PHOENIX (Oct. 11, 2011) — America’s biggest sporting event is coming back to America’s sunniest metropolis.

The National Football League announced today that Phoenix has been selected as the host city for Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. The decision brings the NFL’s showcase event to Phoenix for the third time, with the city having previously hosted the game in 1996 and 2008.

University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will serve as the site of the game, and the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix will accommodate the worldwide media, as both facilities reprise their Super Bowl roles from 2008. That year, according to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, the Super Bowl generated an economic impact of $500 million for Arizona.

Steve Moore, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, said today’s decision by the NFL represents a huge win for both Phoenix’s economy and the city’s reputation as a visitor and group-meeting destination.

“Greater Phoenix is in the business of hosting mega sporting events, and this is the most impactful of them all,” said Moore, who served on the executive committee for the 2015 bid effort. “The Super Bowl not only generates hundreds of millions of dollars of visitor spending for our community, it places Phoenix in the national media spotlight for all the right reasons. For a week, the world gets to see our city for what it is—a warm, welcoming, beautiful destination that can accommodate massive events with aplomb.”

The return of the Super Bowl continues a trend of Greater Phoenix serving as the stage of high-profile sports events. Arizona’s capital also has been the site of the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, two BCS Championship college football games, and World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania.

Greater Phoenix’s sunny weather, world-class sports stadiums, and wealth of resorts and hotels are natural draws for such events. But an additional selling point for Phoenix’s latest Super Bowl bid is a revitalized urban core that includes a new light-rail public transportation system, an expanded convention center, and a two-block retail and entertainment district called CityScape.

Mike Kennedy, who chairs the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, specifically addressed downtown’s renaissance in his presentation to the NFL this morning, saying, “The downtown phoenix construction zone that you may have seen—but likely avoided—in 2008 has given way to a dynamic, bustling, inviting urban environment that you must truly see to believe.”

Downtown’s new additions made an impression on Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President of Special Events, Marla Miller, who headed MLB’s All-Star organizing efforts in Phoenix this summer.

“The city of Phoenix demonstrated its ability to flawlessly handle all aspects of the 2011 MLB All-Star Week festivities,” Miller said. “An event of this magnitude required a great amount of planning and coordination, and it was clear that Phoenix had extensive experience hosting other major sporting events. The city was outstanding to work with and played an important role in making the 2011 MLB All-Star Week a major success.”

Phoenix’s light-rail system, which was under construction during the 2008 Super Bowl, debuted in early ’09. The system operates at street level and is powered by electricity from overhead wires. Fares are $1.75 per ride or $3.50 for an all-day pass.

By the time Super Bowl XLIX arrives in Greater Phoenix, visitors will be able to ride from Sky Harbor International Airport to the nearest light-rail station aboard a $1.1 billion, driverless people mover called the PHX Sky Train. Scheduled for completion in 2013, Sky Train will feature a 100-foot-tall bridge over the taxiway, making it the first location in the world where a train passes over an airplane.

Downtown Phoenix’s new retail and entertainment district, CityScape, features independent restaurants and bars, fashion retailers, a comedy club, an upscale bowling alley, an urban grocery and a fountain-filled public courtyard. The Hotel Palomar, a 250-room boutique property, will join CityScape’s roster of tenants in spring 2012.

The restaurants of CityScape join an urban culinary landscape that already includes James Beard Award winners Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco) and Nobuo Fukuda (Nobuo at Teeter House), whose nationally famous eateries are located within walking distance of the Phoenix Convention Center.

The convention center itself has undergone a metamorphosis since the Super Bowl last came to Arizona. With the opening of the North Building in 2009, the facility tripled its original size. The campus—which features an IACC-certified Executive Conference Center, a food court, and temperature-controlled loading bays—will serve as the headquarters for more than 1,200 print, TV and Internet journalists from across the globe.

Within walking distance of the convention center are more than 3,000 hotel rooms, including 1,000 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, which had not yet opened when Super Bowl media descended on downtown Phoenix in 2008. The city center’s newest hotel, the Westin Phoenix Downtown, debuted in March. And its neighbors, the Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Wyndham Phoenix Downtown, are both fresh from multimillion-dollar renovations.

Besides generating a half billion dollars of economic impact for the state, the last Super Bowl to come to Arizona, in February 2008, was responsible for the following impacts:

  • It attracted more than 91,000 out-of-state visitors who spent $218 million during their stays. (source: W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University)
  • Super Bowl visitors stayed in Arizona an average of 3.9 nights and spent $617 each day on hotels, food, transportation, recreation, shopping, etc. (Source: W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University)
  • During the four days leading into the game (including Super Bowl Sunday), Greater Phoenix’s lodging industry experienced a 22 percent increase in occupancy, a $32 million increase in total room revenue and a 157 percent increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) over the same four days the previous year. (Source: Smith Travel Research)
  • Sales-tax collections from the City of Phoenix’s hotels and motels increased 25 percent in February compared to the same month the previous year. (Source: City of Phoenix)

Assuming media coverage and television viewership mirrors recent Super Bowls, the game will attract more than 1,000 journalists from across the globe and be watched by more than 100 million TV viewers in the United States. According to the NFL, the potential worldwide audience for the game is 1 billion people.

The 2011 Super Bowl, featuring the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, was the most-watched program of any kind in American television history, with an audience of 111 million viewers. The last Super Bowl held in Arizona, Super Bowl XLII in 2008, between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, attracted 97.5 million viewers, which, at that time, made it the most-watched Super Bowl ever.

The NFL chose Phoenix over fellow finalist Tampa, which was bidding to host its fifth Super Bowl after hosting the game in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.