Everyone here seemed sure the 49ers were going to make it to the Super Bowl. Even before the National Football Conference championship game against the Chicago Bears, CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger told a local radio announcer:
"I've never seen a city so sure of itself."
A newspaper headline the day after the win over the Bears proclaimed: "The faithful knew it from the start."
But because the 49ers justified their fans' faith, the business bonanza that San Francisco expected from Super Bowl XIX will be a little smaller. Officials expect 18,000 fewer out-of-town visitors and about $10 million less in tourism expenditures during Super Bowl week because the home team is playing Sunday.
$210.25 a Day in Tampa
Still, local officials expect about 60,000 out-of-town visitors to spend between $80 million and $102 million, even with the 49ers in the game. That should prop up what is normally the slowest time of year in the tourist trade here.
At last year's Super Bowl in Tampa, the average fan spent $210.25 per day in an average 5.3-day stay, according to a study done for local businesses. It added up to more than $72 million. The National Football League, the media, the football teams, corporations and other groups spent an additional $15 million, the study said.
Organizers expect fans to spend even more this year.
The Super Bowl will be played just south of here, at the 85,000-seat Stanford Stadium, and the 49ers get 24,000 of the tickets. Locals are far less likely to stay in hotels, eat out at fancy restaurants, go on shopping sprees and spend big money at the game, San Francisco officials acknowledge.
Only once before, when the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in 1980, has a host team played in the Super Bowl.
Despite the drop in expected out-of-town visitors, most of the city's upscale hotels have filled up for the long Super Bowl weekend, according to Dale Hess, a spokesman for San Francisco's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Many of the area's finer restaurants also expect a busy week. At Chez Panisse in Berkeley, the weekend was booked even before the 49ers won their way into the game on Jan. 6, and the Washington Square Bar and Grill in San Francisco said reservations for the weekend were almost full.
Some large corporations use the Super Bowl as a chance to reward good workers and good clients. Ford Motor Co. is putting up 750 top-performing employees at some of San Francisco's finer hotels. Nissan has chartered an ocean liner to serve as a hotel for its 350 guests. Altogether, according to a Bank of America forecast, organizations and corporations are expected to spend $30.4 million during Super Bowl week.
Large-Screen TVs in Demand
Ticket agencies and stores that rent and sell large-screen televisions say they are doing well.
Larry Gold, a spokesman for Ticket Time, an agency selling Super Bowl tickets at its outlets in Los Angeles and San Francisco, said business is very good. "It's just like women's gymnastics at the Olympics or a Bruce Springsteen concert," Gold said.
"Business is fantastic. Our big screens . . . have really been going," said a spokesman for House of Color TV in Mountain View.
Even 14 members of the 49ers got into the act just before the playoffs started and recorded a song, "We're the 49ers." The single has been derided by disc jockeys, who nonetheless play it repeatedly; it has sold nearly 28,000 copies in the Bay Area.
Megatone Records, the San Francisco company that pressed the disc, is trying to get more copies out before the game. The 49ers' share of the profits, a little more than $5,000 so far, is being donated to the United Negro College Fund.
Stanford Stadium Renovated
Stanford expects to collect $200,000 to $250,000 as its share of concession sales at the game and had a $2.3-million stadium renovation pushed along by the National Football League and other donors.
The stadium has a refurbished press box, a new ticket complex, enlarged locker room facilities and expanded restrooms (an attempt to alleviate the long waits that have plagued events at Stanford Stadium for years).
Students and faculty members at Stanford won't be playing a big part in the game. Only 200 tickets were raffled off to faculty, staff and students, and an informal Stanford Daily poll shows that half the recipients plan to sell their tickets at scalper's prices, most recently quoted at $400 to $800 per seat.
Stanford officials said students are not Super Bowl-style big spenders anyway. According to university officials, the average fan at a Stanford game spends only $1 to $1.50 on concessions while the average Super Bowl spectator spends $15.
Officials in nearby Palo Alto, across the street from Stanford, said they doubt the city itself would benefit much from the game. June Fleming, the assistant city manager, said increased hotel and sales tax revenue from the weekend, estimated at $130,000, would probably just about match their expenses for extra policing, cleanup and other city services.
"I don't think we'll run into the red on this, but I don't know for sure," Fleming said.
Some of the local restaurants and hotels say they will do well, however. At the University Creamery, a 24-hour diner in downtown Palo Alto, "we're planning for a big week," said Mike Callaway, an employee. "Everything is booked in the area, and the hotels are expecting it big."