As noted here yesterday, the NFL awarded Super Bowl LI to Houston. The game will be played at Reliant Stadium in February 2017. There are plenty of you out there who couldn't care less about football and sports in general. Frankly, the Super Bowl is often anticlimactic as a sporting event, but it is still the single biggest sporting event on the planet and it is coming to our city.
So, before we get bored with the topic and ignore it until a month before it happens -- at which point I assume we'll all complain about the traffic more than usual -- I figured I'd remind everyone, including those of you who hate sports, why getting a Super Bowl is a good thing for the city of Houston.
Let's not confuse Houston with San Francisco and think that lovely aerial shots of downtown are suddenly going to entice tourists to flock to Houston to visit, what, the Beer Can House? But it does shine a fairly intense light on the city from a very picky group: the media. If they like you, they will take that back with them and talk about it. Beyond that, there are thousands of people who descend upon the city to work. The two-week Super Bowl madness shuttles hundreds of people into work events and all of those people -- never mind those watching on TV -- will take their experiences back to their homes as well.
Just like when you run around like a crazy person getting your house nice before a party, the city will be doing the same and with help from the NFL. Trees will be planted. Streets will be cleaned. Everything the city can offer will be spit-shined and there is nothing wrong with that. It's not that Houston is particularly dirty, but a thorough washing never hurt anybody.
It's not that the city will suddenly engage in massive projects to improve itself just because of one event, but it will speed them up. Before the Super Bowl in 2004, the light rail, which had been on the burner for years, actually opened for business. In fact, it was January 1, 2004, when the first cars started moving between downtown and Reliant Stadium. There is no question the push to get it finished in time for the Super Bowl was on. The same will happen this time around and we've got a much bigger head start on many of them than we did last time. By 2017, new light rail lines will be installed, the Buffalo Bayou project will be done and many street repairs will be completed. This will help.
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This may seem like a rather innocuous -- never mind ambiguous -- concept when it comes to the city, but Houston is already having praise heaped upon it from some surprising places, most notably The Wall Street Journal. It matters, and not just for bringing tourists here or convincing people Houston's a great place to live. People who plan events and businesses looking for place to relocate take notice of the buzz in a city. Everyone wants to get in on something when it's going good. A great Super Bowl experience in 2017 could come at the pinnacle of the city's newfound popularity.
This is a simple and easily measurable equation. When thousands of people visit a city, the people who work there make money. Anyone associated with the entertainment, hospitality or transportation industry will see his business boom. The commitments for other events will roll in. Money will be pumped into the city before, during and after the game is over. It's the single biggest reason to have an event of this magnitude in your city. Like sports or not, they generate billions of dollars in revenue every year and there is nothing wrong with Houston seeing a piece of that pie.