The Blade - Toledo, Ohio
Super Bowl's boost to area economy unlikely to be XL: Lack of room bookings dismays some
By Mary-Beth Mclaughlin
Jan. 26--It sounded good on paper: big spenders willing to book rooms in
But 10 days before the championship football game an hour's drive up I-75, reality is setting in.
"It's not going to be as lucrative as everyone had thought it was going to be," said Greg Gooding, general manager of the 241-room Wyndham-Toledo.
"We're already flirting with dropping our prices," he said. The rooms are $199 per night for the Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 4-5. A room this weekend can be rented for $129.
James Donnelly, president and chief executive of the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he expects a $2.5 million economic impact in the
His staff has been working for six years with the National Football League and its representatives to lock up hotel rooms, he explained.
"They said that all rooms within a 60-mile radius of a game are usually filled up, so they've blocked 7,500 hotel-room nights in our area," he said.
Fewer hotel bookings or shorter stays also mean less is spent at restaurants and probably less is spent on gasoline or other items that might be included in the football game's local economic effect.
Mr. Donnelly admitted he's disappointed that
More outspoken is Michael Sapara, general manager of downtown's Radisson Hotel-Toledo.
"The NFL has had 200 rooms reserved here for three years and as of [yesterday], they've produced zero bookings," he said.
The deal was that the rooms would be sold on a four-night minimum at $129 per night, with the hotel paying a commission on each booking, and customers paying a $75 nonrefundable rate for each room when making the reservations, he said. A regular rate is $109 per night.
"We have sold 200 of our own rooms outside of the block, and I'm canceling their block of rooms today and we'll sell them on our own," Mr. Sapara said.
Jeff McFellin, director of sales and marketing for the Clarion Hotel-Westgate and its neighboring Comfort Inn, said he too is taking matters in his own hands and taking reservations for two or three nights, rather than adhering to the four-night minimum stay. The rooms are priced at $179 to $300 a night.
"They've been telling us all summer that every hotel within 60 miles of a Super Bowl will definitely pick up, but most of them have been in destination cities," Mr. McFellin said.
And that is the
Unlike last year's Super Bowl in
"People don't see it as an opportunity to make it into a vacation," he said. "A lot of people literally just want to come in for the game. It's hard to push the four-night minimum."
Visitors especially don't want to stay for more than two nights if they live as close as
"I don't think anyone's at fault," he said. "People who go will have a great time, just like at any other Super Bowl, but it will just be a little chillier."
The economic impact of a Super Bowl runs into the millions of dollars. A study by Lawrence Technical Institute in
Dan King, general manager of the Hyatt Regency in the
Spokesman Ken Kettenbeil of the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee said there is still room availability within a 15 to 30-mile radius of downtown
Toledo-area hotels are free to release the rooms that had been blocked for the NFL, he said, but he defended the four-day minimum, a standard NFL procedure.
"I'm sure there are some people that are turned off by the cold-weather destination," Mr. Kettenbeil explained, "but
One Toledo hotel reporting an increase in business for Super Bowl weekend is the Hilton-Toledo, which has reservations for 80 of the 100 rooms blocked by the NFL, said Rich Nachazel, general manager.
"We're also doing all right through our own Hilton reservation line," he said. "There are a number of people who have come through indicating the Super Bowl was part of their plans."
Rooms in the 211-room facility are going for $169 a night, up from the $129 normally charged this time of year.
The Hilton is getting lucky because out-of-town visitors recognize the name of the chain and because Hiltons in other parts of the country are referring their best customers to the
The Hilton general manager said he expects to be booked for the Friday and Saturday night of Super Bowl weekend, while Mr. Gooding, of the downtown Wyndham, said he expects a 65 to 70 percent occupancy rate.