PHOENIX – With the Super Bowl and WM Phoenix Open taking over the Phoenix metro area earlier this month, it wouldn’t be a reach to assume the influx of people would mean a boom in business.
Though some downtown Phoenix businesses felt the benefits, others did not.
Take Seamus McCaffrey’s for example. This Irish pub has been in downtown Phoenix since 1991. Before the eventful week, the bar bulked up on inventory and increased staffing for the expected surge, bartender Krista Smith said.
“We expected to see a huge amount of traffic, and we were really nervous because we didn’t know if we were going to be able to take on that burden. We were kind of scared actually, but we were actually slower than normal,” she said.
Smith said she heard the slowdown wasn’t only at Seamus McCaffrey’s, which is a common drinking spot for others in the restaurant industry. “So a lot of other bartenders were coming over just like, ‘Where is everybody?’” she said. “We got more customers than most of the other places.”
Not all downtown restaurants saw the same lack of business. Arizona Wilderness Brewing has a beer garden on Roosevelt Row. “Our Thursday was similar to what we usually see on a Friday, and our Friday was similar to a Saturday. But Saturday was when we truly saw the impact of the Super Bowl; we broke our single-day sales record that night,” Frank Gervasi, general manager of Arizona Wilderness DTPHX, said in an email.
However, Gervasi shared Smith’s concerns about downtown Phoenix tourism on a wider scale, noting that having the events spread out – Glendale for the actual game, Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open and downtown Phoenix for Super Bowl Experience events – likely diluted the crowd. “It felt like all the tourism wasn’t fully concentrated on the DTPHX area,” Gervasi said.
Arizona Wilderness also took steps to prepare for the expected influx of people. Justus Swanick, head of restaurant operations for Arizona Wilderness Brewing, said the Valley-based brewing company evaluated staffing two months in advance, bulked up on inventory, purchased an ID scanner and attended multiple community calls to know what to expect when it came to parking closures and nearby events.
Another idea was to modify hours. “We did extend our hours an extra hour every night during Super Bowl week, but it didn’t result in much additional sales,” Swanick said.
In a January 2022 press conference, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee played a video touting the benefits the big game would bring to Arizona. Over awe-inspiring background music and footage of the stadium, fans and desert landscapes, bold words like “FORWARD PROGRESS” and “SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT” laid the groundwork for what was to come.