By Recker McDowell —
The Scottsdale City Council approved a $1.2 million outlay earlier this month as part of the regional effort to host Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
Scottsdale should repurpose that money to help local businesses being devastated by the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Super Bowl money is coming from the Tourism Development Fund via four annual outlays of $305,100 starting this year.
The NFL, Tom Brady and the Super Bowl will survive without Scottsdale’s contribution to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. Many Scottsdale businesses (and jobs) will not survive without immediate help with the virus sparking economic and public health fears and anxiety. Scottsdale businesses are poised to cut jobs impacting workers’ livelihoods. Other businesses will wither and die. They need help now.
The Coronavirus has air travel and tourism in a free fall. Shops, bars and restaurants are closing or cutting hours to protect public health and because of drops in business. Events have been canceled. Spring Training Baseball (one of Scottsdale’s big economic drivers) had its games called off because of the outbreak. Workplaces are closed. Fear and anxiety are gripping consumers.
All that threatens not only businesses but their employees and the city’s tax base.
At the federal level, President Donald Trump, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and congressional leaders are crafting a federal stimulus and response package in response to the pandemic. That could include $1,000 payments and help for devastated industries. Mnuchin said Wednesday that the U.S. could see the unemployment rate hit 20 percent if Washington fails to respond to the virus. The current U.S. unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.
Scottsdale and other communities need to act now in response to the Coronavirus. That means finding resources and ways to help local businesses and their workers. The $1.2 million earmarked for the Super Bowl is needed right now to help with that effort. The money can be used as part of a Scottsdale effort to help local business stay afloat and survive this contagion. We need an aggressive and immediate economic response to the fear and fallout to save jobs, to save small businesses, to save the backbone of our community.
The city can come back later and help with the Super Bowl effort but right now our local economy needs immediate help.