BALTIMORE — Some Baltimore businesses, from bars to sportswear shops, are profiting off the Ravens’ Super Bowl run during the slow post-holiday period.
But economists said the football team’s success is probably having a limited impact on the region’s economy as a whole.
“Sure people are going out to bars and restaurants to watch the game… but they would have just done that somewhere else otherwise if the playoff run wouldn’t have been going on,” said Brad Humphreys, a University of Alberta economics professor who has studied the economic impact of sports on cities.
Businesses that cater to Ravens fans, however, are seeing a real benefit.
At Mother’s Federal Hill Grille, which sits within earshot of M&T Bank Stadium, owner Dave Rather said he has seen a 30 to 50 percent increase in business during the Ravens’ three playoff games. He said the boost in sales is largely due to customers buying more drinks in celebration.
Business is typically slower in January, but Mother’s is expecting another big crowd for Super Bowl Sunday.
“The Ravens games are the busiest days all year long, so the playoffs are like having your busiest day four times over,” Rather said.
The rise in alcohol sales during the football postseason has benefited not just bars, but also liquor suppliers and wholesalers.
“I’m making a lot more money this month. I’m up 50 percent from last year… We’re just killing it,” said Angelo Picillo, a sales representative for Republic National Distributing Company.
He said he had sold $100,000 of alcohol in Baltimore in the last week alone, and $255,000 during the Ravens’ playoff run. One of Picillo’s most popular products this month: purple Three Olives vodka.
Local clothing vendors have also sought to capitalize on Baltimore’s purple fever. With local favorite Ray Lewis retiring after this year’s Super Bowl, his jerseys have been “flying off the shelf,” said Xavier Dandridge, manager of The Sports Shop in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Dandridge said his revenues this month are three time higher than in January 2012, which he attributed almost entirely to the Ravens’ postseason victories.
City officials said they hoped the national attention focused on Baltimore over the last two weeks will convince tourists to visit in the future.
“Having the Ravens in the Super Bowl shines a national spotlight on Baltimore both as terrific sports town but also as a great city to visit,” said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “People all around the country are hearing about and seeing Baltimore.”
But this week, the Ravens success is drawing few tourists to the city to help Baltimore’s tourism economy. Diehard Ravens fans are leaving town to spend money in New Orleans, home of Super Bowl XLVII.
“A significant amount of spending power, some of which would have taken place in Baltimore, instead will take place in New Orleans,” said Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore-based economic consulting firm. “There is a source of negative impact associated with the Ravens going to the Super Bowl.”
The costs associated with a trip to the Super Bowl are staggering. The least expensive ticket available for the game as of Wednesday evening (Jan. 30) was priced at $1,600 according to TiqIQ, a website that aggregates ticket listings on secondary markets. New Orleans hotels, rental car agencies, restaurants and bars will benefit, not their counterparts in Baltimore.