With the Super Bowl 50 festivities drawing to a close on Sunday, we would like to consider the impacts of San Francisco hosting the largest sporting event in the United States and one of the largest sporting events in the world. Of course there are positive aspects of having the Super Bowl in our own town. The construction of Super City in the Financial District means there will be increases in spending in the city. Having the Super Bowl here promotes pride for the city and increases tourism (and particularly the money that tourism brings in).
Hosting the Super Bowl isn’t only about consumerism and creating attractions for those with expendable income. The website of the Host Committee for Super Bowl 50 declares, “In 2016, not all records will be set on the field. It is our goal to make the Bay Area’s Super Bowl the most giving one ever, and ensure its impact lives on long after the list whistle is blown.” According to the 50 Fund Legacy site, a grand total of 141 organizations around the Bay Area have received $7,320,000 dollars. Using money earned from Super Bowl profits to aid those in need is obviously a great way to spend it. The legacy fund of the San Francisco Bay Area host committee has been specifically directed towards closing the opportunity gap for low income youth, and young adults in 12 northern California counties.
However, there seems to be a very sharp contrast between the generous aid of the Super Bowl Host Committee and the treatment of homeless people in San Francisco during the festivities. The way the homeless community has been treated due to the event being hosted here is unacceptable. The city appears to be trying to create an image of San Francisco where there is no homeless community, where this isn’t the place with the highest income inequality in the U.S. This is not the reality. Of course, situations where large sporting events displace and mistreat marginalized groups of people are not uncommon. Host nation of the 2016 Summer Olympics Brazil has displaced large numbers of indigenous people in order to build stadiums for the event. Considering that the scale of hosting the Super Bowl is on a slightly smaller scale than the Olympics, we hoped the city would have found a better way to respond to the presence of homeless people and acknowledge their humanity rather sweeping them under the rug.
The controversy surrounding the mistreatment of homeless people and having the Super Bowl here seems to reflect that City Hall does not have the same sensibility as many San Franciscans. Vice President of City Chamber of Commerce, Jim Lazarus stated that In order for San Francisco to increase their chances to host Super Bowl 50, the city asked not to be reimbursed by the NFL. Considering there is over four million dollars that has not been budgeted by the city but is needed pay for this event, it doesn’t seem like asking not to be reimbursed was the best decision for San Francisco. There have been benefits to having the Super Bowl in the Bay Area but because of misconduct from the city, the event could have gone more smoothly. With the homeless being forced out, an exponential increase in traffic, and no actual money to pay for the event, to the average San Franciscans, the drawbacks to hosting Super Bowl 50 don’t justify the benefits.