GREENFIELD — Despite packed hotels during February’s Super Bowl, public coffers ended up in the red after the city decided to play a part in the big game.
The Hancock County Tourism Commission and Hancock County Visitors Bureau – both funded by innkeepers tax money collected from local hotels – doled out a combined $26,000 to fund local efforts to attract visitors during Super Bowl XLVI hosted by Indianapolis Feb. 5.
The efforts resulted in significant jumps in occupancies and room rates during the week and weekend leading up to the game for the county’s six largest hotels. But revenue from the accompanying 4 percent innkeepers tax on room rentals fell short of covering the county’s expenses.
More than $24,000 was collected. A portion was removed for tourism director Dave Scott’s salary, and the remaining $17,688.42 was paid to the tourism commission.
The total was still nearly three times what the commission collected the month before and nearly double what it collected during the same period last year.
Despite the almost $10,000 gap between what was spent on promotion and what was collected, Hancock County Tourism Commission President David Dellacca said it was money well spent.
“We don’t view it as a loss necessarily,” Dellacca said. “Any time you do marketing there is the inherent idea that you may not recoup everything you put out.”
The visitors bureau paid for the majority of the Super Bowl expenses with innkeepers tax revenue from previous years while the newly formed tourism commission was going through a budget-approval process.
The visitors bureau paid $17,000 for round-trip bus service to the Super Bowl Village for hotel guests and residents alike. An additional $3,600 was spent on a trolley making rounds from the hotel cluster near Interstate 70 to downtown. The remainder of the money went toward administrative costs and pay for Jean Howell, who headed the local Super Bowl committee.
The committee staffed welcome tables at each of the hotels, placed volunteers on each of the buses and coordinated several special events during the days leading up to the game. Howell said that while most of the visitors would probably have stayed in Greenfield hotels anyway, she hoped the committee’s work made their stay better.
The efforts were appreciated by many hotel managers, including Derek Winchester.
“They did a good job of keeping track of everything,” said Winchester, manager of the Hampton Inn, which contributed the most revenue from the innkeepers tax. “From what I saw, they did a very good job with this event.”
Now, the tourism commission will look ahead to the extra money it received last month. Dellacca said the group will continue to look into a new welcome center downtown and is eager to hear proposals from area nonprofits.
“We’ll just continue to move forward and know we can do more than could have before,” he said.