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Impact of Super Bowl LI felt far beyond the game

In addition to the big game, Super Week has featured events all over the city, creating an atmosphere aimed to bring crowds back to Houston. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

Hundreds of thousands of visitors are flocking to Houston this week for the many festivities surrounding Super Bowl LI.

The football game is just a small part as Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee prepared parties and events to entertain those even without a ticket. Being a host city means more than just hosting the biggest football game of the year: it means a vast influx of resources and people into the local economy.

“I do believe that the return for the city will far outweigh the public expenditure and the public amount,” Turner said in a press conference Wednesday.

According to international consulting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper, the events are expected to bring in $190 million in direct spending to the Houston economy. This would be a 40 percent increase over what was spent in 2004, the last time the city hosted the big game.

According to KHOU, Turner also expects an extra $350 million to be spent by visitors in the form of hotel occupancy and sales tax and business earnings.

But many of the benefits of being a host city are not seen in direct spending during “Super Week.” While the world’s collected media is here, Houston is getting attention and marketing that can’t be bought.

Much has changed since Houston last hosted the game. Discovery Green didn’t exist when the Patriots battled the Panthers, and according to Forbes, the amount of hotel rooms in the area has nearly doubled.

The event doesn’t come entirely cost-free though, as Houston will have to pay for the increase in police, fire and other city workers needed to host such a large event. Turner estimates that the increase is going to cost about $5.5 million.

“Part of the agreement we have reached with the Super Bowl Host Committee is for them to pay us that money before the game as they work on the return from the major events trust fund with the state of Texas,” Turner said. “I can say to the people in the city of Houston that we have received that estimated payment.”

Turner hopes that the event will lead more ventures to come to Houston.

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