The Purple Lining in Vikes’ Failure to Make Super Bowl LII

On January 22, Minnesotans awoke to a depressing reality. The night before, the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in what can only be described as a blowout, ending the Vikes’ playoff run and hopes of being the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl on their home field. As a true tax nerd and number cruncher, I’ve taken slight but nonetheless real solace from the Vikings’ failure to make Super Bowl LII: a little extra ka-ching in the Minnesota economy.

According to USA Today, fourteen percent of Super Bowl ticket purchases are to Pennsylvania—the home state of the now-hated Eagles. Even without an Eagles victory in the NFC championship game, probably some purchases would have been made in the Keystone State. After all, fanatics willing to pay over $5,000 for a chance to watch the most hyped event in all of sports can be found everywhere. Let’s assume that—in the absence of the Eagles’ victory—ticket purchases in Pennsylvania would have been only four percent instead of fourteen.

Of course, if the Eagles lost, the Vikings would have won. So let’s further assume that the ten percent reduction in Pennsylvania ticket purchases would have been replaced by Minnesota purchases, and that other Minnesota fans—eager to see the first Purple appearance in the Super Bowl since the Bud Grant era—purchased another five percent of tickets. In total, we guess that fifteen percent more ticket purchases would have been made by Minnesotans had the Vikings made it to the big game; because of the Vikings’ loss two weeks ago, these tickets are now instead purchased by non-Minnesota football zealots with too much disposable income.

With the Vikings’ failure to make the Super Bowl, the number of non-Minnesotans coming to the Gopher State to eat, drink, recreate, buy warmer clothing, and otherwise spend out-of-state dollars increases; this infusion of outside revenue contributes to additional economic activity for Minnesota. If the Vikings were in Super Bowl LII, the additional Minnesota fans at the game—who may already have lodging and who certainly have winter coats—probably would spend less than their non-Minnesota counterparts. Furthermore, much of the money that Minnesotans would have spent at the game would have been spent elsewhere in Minnesota, and thus would have produced no net gain for the state’s economy.

Projections prepared for the Super Bowl Host Committee anticipate a $343 million net increase in regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (It’s not clear if this includes the money paid to consultants to craft these projections.) More skeptical economists argue that the actual impact is generally about one-tenth of the official estimate; if they are right, the net GDP gain would be about $34.3 million. Had the Vikings made it to the Super Bowl, this more pessimistic estimate would arguably be fifteen percent—or about $5 million—less; we base this conclusion on our rough estimate that the number of out-of-state attendees decreases by fifteen percent and that their Minnesota replacements generate no net gain in state GDP.

So there you have it. Our consolation prize for the Vikings failure to make it to SB LII is another $5 million of economic activity—or about 91 cents for every man, woman, and child in the North Star State.

If that doesn’t seem like much, remember that it could have been worse. Suppose the Vikings made it to the big game and lost. In that case, the Vikings would own the ignominy of being the only team to lose five Super Bowls without winning one, and the first team to lose a Super Bowl on its home field. And, we would’ve lost our 91 cents.

Okay, I admit this isn’t much comfort. But work with me, Vikings fans. I’m doing my best to find a silver lining, if not a purple one.