Pope’s Visit: Bigger Than The Super Bowl

Papal visit to Philly expected to generate $418 million in economic benefits.

Talk about a blessing.

CBS News reports that Pope Francis’s September visit to Philadelphia is expected to generate up to $418 million in economic benefits for the region — more than would be gained by hosting the Super Bowl.

The calculation was done by the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I think it’s safe to say that the economic impact for the City and region will be very significant,” Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, said in an email to CBS News. “We don’t have any detailed data that we’re prepared to share at this time. As you can imagine, there are a host of variables to consider.”

There will, of course, also be big expenses to consider. There will be security — though the feds will share in that cost — as well as the furnishing of portable toilets and trash removal services to accommodate the 1 million people expected to hit the parkway for Pope Francis’s celebration of Mass.

But those 1 million people will need food to eat and a place to stay and might even buy a souvenir or two while they’re in town. And the visit will come at just the right time in Philadelphia’s tourism calendar. “That is low tourist season for a place like Philadelphia so you probably aren’t displacing that many regular visitors,” one economist told CBS News.

Officials are still raising $45 million to cover the costs of hosting the event, but don’t seem worried. “We are pleased with how it is going,” said Donna Crilley Farrell, the executive director of the World Meeting of Families. “Corporations have been very encouraging, very responsive.”