Super Bowl Recession Reprieve in Tampa? Not Really!

On Saturday morning, I flew from Phoenix to Tampa.Not surprisingly, the plane was full of boisterous and friendly Cardinals fans on their way to the Super Bowl. “Go Cards” was the mantra – from the USAir attendant assisting the boarding process to the flight attendant on the plane to the pilot when we landed.I was a disinterested party, simply trying to get from a business meeting in Arizona to a short visit with my mother in Siesta Key, Florida.As a Patriots fan; I kept my allegiance to myself.The best thing about the flight was that one of the passengers was Captain Sullenberger, the hero of the USAir flight that he landed so brilliantly in the Hudson River.It was better than seeing any super sports star or a Hollywood big name. I was thinking to myself – I sure hope someone has given him fabulous tickets to the game.And then how cool it was to see him and the entire crew of USAir flight 1549 on the field being honored.

At least for a weekend, I assumed that the supply demand characteristics of the Super Bowl would outweigh the desultory malaise gripping the rest of the country.I was fully prepared because I had pre-ordered my car at Enterprise.For a mere three days, I was spending $458!!Okay, it was supposed to be $428 (still appallingly steep) and I agreed to an additional $10/day to rent a Prius.It was so worth the extra charge, and I may help the economy when I get home by turning in my gas guzzler and buying a Prius.I was sold when I saw the dashboard indicating that I was getting 99.9 miles per gallon.

In Siesta Key – a full 70 miles south of Tampa – hotel and condo prices were outlandish. “Super Bowl” pricing had been in effect for months.That was the price one paid for being ‘smart’ and booking in advance (before the economy fell off a cliff).But Super Bowl economic clout ultimately proved to be somewhat piddling even in Tampa.Hotel rooms have gone unclaimed and the expected spillover into Sarasota and Siesta Key has been non-existent.Vacancies are higher than normal.

I spoke to a real estate agent who mentioned a one-bedroom condominium overlooking the ocean that was on the market for $580,000.She said, “I wish I had the money to buy it.A year ago, it would have sold for $800,000 and I can’t get anyone to bid today.”

There’s an old saw on Wall Street – and it goes like this.“If an NFC team (or an AFC team that once was part of the NFC) wins the Super Bowl, the market will go up.”Well, it doesn’t happen very often, but this year with the Cardinals in the NFC and Pittsburgh a former NFC team, it meant that regardless of which team wins, the market will go up. The Steelers have won the Super Bowl six times before today and in all six years the stock market went up.Let’s hope they can be a harbinger of good news one more time.

p.s. Last year the Super Bowl indicator was a dismal failure.