HOUSTON – NFL owners chose Arizona on Tuesday to host the Super Bowl for what will be the second time in seven years, a signal that the state will now be in the regular rotation to host football's biggest spectacle and that its tough immigration laws are having a waning impact on attracting visitors.
Arizona has hosted two other Super Bowls, most recently in 2008 in the shiny new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, a $455 million facility just west of Phoenix. Glendale edged out the only other candidate for the 2015 game awarded Tuesday, Tampa, Fla., which hosted the Super Bowl four times between 1984 and 2009.
"We're in the rotation now," said Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. "Now we're in there with the Miamis, the Tampas, the San Diegos."
The 2015 game in Glendale will come on the heels of some cold Super Bowls: next year in Indianapolis and the New York/New Jersey area in 2014.
"In early February, when the rest of the country is in a deep freeze, Arizona will be a great postcard to the rest of the country," Taylor said.
NFL owners chose the Phoenix area despite the passage of a controversial immigration law last year that prompted boycotts of the state. Studies of the estimated economic losses to the state over the law, known as SB1070, vary, but some peg the number at as high as $141 million.
Even so, the law had very little impact on Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, held in downtown Phoenix in July.
Critics had asked players, coaches and fans to boycott the game as part of a wider call for companies to stop doing business with Arizona, but the controversy largely fizzled out and there were only about 30 game-day protesters who were largely ignored by baseball fans making their way to the ballpark.
"As we continue to get more distance from the passage of that law, its effect on the market will continue to diminish," Taylor said. "If you look back at the All-Star game, you could see there was very little SB1070 controversy come game day, and I would anticipate that to be the case as years go by."
SB1070 would require all immigrants to carry immigration registration papers and requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question people's immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally.
The last time Arizona hosted a Super Bowl, in 2008, the game drew $500.6 million in spending by visiting fans and organizations, according to the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
"This is huge for the state of Arizona," said Mike Kennedy, chairman of Arizona's host committee. "It just has huge intangible, emotional, positive ramifications for the entire state."
He said Tampa was tough competition for the Phoenix area, and that he sees Arizona's victory as a reflection of how well the state pulled off the 2008 game.
"We're in the Super Bowl business," Kennedy said. "I think they planned to come back at some point in time, and I'm just happy that day was today."
Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said he expects the 2015 Super Bowl to pull in even more dollars than that game.
"I think it's going to be a great economic impact this time around in 2015 to give our community something to really rally around over the next couple of years as we go through these economic times," he said.
Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor at the W.P. Carey school, said that $500.6 million "is nothing to sneeze at" but that it could arguably be called "a drop in the bucket" of Arizona's $250 billion annual economy.
Hoffman said it's the long-term impacts of a Super Bowl that matter most.
"Cities aggressively compete to be able to host the Super Bowl, and they do so to first of all, reap that short-run injection, which is sizeable, but they also do it so they can expose their region to arguably 40,000 or 50,000 people who are exactly in those income brackets that you would most want to expose this region to," he said. "They're the movers and shakers, the business executives, and they make major decisions on moving capital around."