Inglewood braces for business boom as Super Bowl LVI nears – San Bernardino Sun

With Super Bowl LVI fast approaching, businesses in Inglewood are bracing for a sharp uptick in customer traffic.

An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 out-of-town visitors are expected to arrive for the Feb. 13 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi stadium, and they’ll be spending money at local restaurants, hotels, Airbnb and scores of other businesses.

How much money?

A recent report from Micronomics Economic Research and Consulting predicts Inglewood will see a positive economic impact of $23 million to $52 million, with $900,000 to $1.8 million in added tax revenue and an annual employment gain of 350 to 800 jobs.

On a broader scale, Los Angeles County stands to gain as much as $477.5 million in economic benefits, the report said.

What eateries are expecting

Donte Hewett, manager of the Sweet Red Peach bakery on South Prairie Avenue, expects a significant boost in business. The bakery, which offers a broad selection of made-from-scratch cakes, cookies and Southern specialty desserts, is already a favorite among locals.

“On a typical weekend, we have a big turnout,” he said. “We open at 11 a.m on Saturday, but people start lining up around 10 to get in. There’s usually a line going around the building.”

Hewett said much of his weekend business comes from fans attending games at SoFi.

“Sometimes people come in before a game, but most of them don’t want to leave the food in their car all day, so we get more people coming in after the games are over,” he said. “We’re normally open until 5 p.m. on Sunday, but we’ll extend our hours if we’re not sold out by then.”

Woody’s Bar-B-Que also expects an influx of Super Bowl LVI customers. But owner Roderick Phillips said his expectations are tempered by fears surrounding Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant.

“In the climate we’re in now … I just don’t know what to expect,” he said. “But we’ll be prepared for anything.”

Phillips isn’t alone. A new survey from Goldman Sachs shows 79% of small business owners are concerned about the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Seventy-one percent say the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has impacted their revenue, and 37% say their business has been forced to temporarily close or scale back operations due to the surge.

“We have a dine-in area with four tables and a long bar but we prefer to keep it closed right now,” Phillips said. “We have three windows where people can order food and an area where they can eat outside. Our customers wear masks when they order food.”

Local businesses are getting a leg up through Super Bowl LVI Business Connect. The program identifies and supports minority, women, LGBTQ+ and veteran-owned small businesses through professional development, networking, and contract opportunities with the Super Bowl and beyond.

Hotels, Aibnbs primed for a surge

Visitors who stay in hotels, Airbnb units and other lodging will spend $318.24 to $348.75 a night with average stays being four days and three nights, according to Micronomics.

More recent figures from STR, a research and analytics firm for the hospitality industry, predict the average daily rate for Feb. 11-13 hotel stays in the Los Angeles market will be $445 — the second-highest for a Super Bowl weekend.

Blake Reiter, STR’s director of custom forecasts, offered additional projections in an interview with TravelDailyNews.

Reiter said Super Bowl hotel occupancy rates in Los Angeles are expected to average 89%, topping Tampa’s 82.4% average during last year’s Super Bowl, but falling short of Miami’s 92.8% average for the 2020 Super Bowl.

The inflow of out-of-town visitors will likely not reach peak projections since the Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers, a team that would have brought scores of Bay Area fans to the Big Game.

Desiree Peeples, who uses half of her Inglewood duplex as an Airbnb rental, initially blocked out rental dates on and around the time of the Super Bowl over concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But she has since re-thought that issue.

“I normally rent it for $250 a night, but I went online and saw that quite a few other hosts had really increased their prices,” she said. “I few are renting for $1,200 a night, which I can’t imagine! That seems ridiculous, so now I’m thinking about $400 a night.”

Peeples said her rental is typically booked most of the time, although Super Bowl LVI has generated more inquiries than usual.

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls for the weekend of the Super Bowl,” she said.

Airbnb has already reported an increase in bookings. Figures released last week from the home-sharing platform show searches for stays in Los Angeles during the week of the big game increased by 50 percent from October to November alone.

When Atlanta was home to the Super Bowl in 2019, local airbnb hosts earned nearly $3.5 million, the company said.

Airbnb announced Friday that it has established a customer support team across the region to help address issues that may arise over the next week in the greater L.A. area. The team will focus heavily on safety and security for hosts, guest and neighbors.

The home-sharing network emphasized it “take a hard line on disruptive parties” during the week of the Big Game and will also provide hosts with tips on how to spot human trafficking.

‘The proof is in the pudding’

Micronomics’ economic projections appear to bode well for Inglewood’s business community, but when the numbers were released late last year, Inglewood Mayor James James Butts added a caveat:

“This is an economic study and projection,” he said. “Cities do the same thing every year. The revenues and expenses always turn out to be somewhat different in reality and normally fall short of expectations.”

Butts, who freely describes SoFi as “the most magnificent stadium in the world,” acknowledged the economic activity surrounding Super Bowl LVI will be big. Still, he’s taking a wait-and-see approach.

“This will definitely be positive for the county and region, although who gets what in terms of jobs and sales tax revenues will have to be sorted out,” he said. “It should be spread pretty evenly … but we believe the proof is in the pudding.”

Transportation demands

Super Bowl LVI will also place heavy demands on local transportation companies as visitors travel to and from their hotels and to local tourist destinations.

Mosaic Global Transportation in Inglewood plans to partner with other transporation companies to handle the crush of Super Bowl visitors that will be coming to town. The company has an expansive fleet of sedans, SUVs and executive vans, all the way up to 54-seat motor coaches. (Photo courtesy of Mosaic Global Transportation)

Maurice Brewster, founder and CEO of Mosaic Global Transportation, figures he’ll have to partner with other transportation companies to handle the heavy crush of Super Bowl visitors. The San Jose-based company operates a local office in Inglewood and maintains a fleet of 91 vehicles, including sedans, SUVs and executive vans, all the way up to 54-seat motor coaches.

“I have 116 employees and I anticipate we’ll have to hire at least 25% more people than I have now, but I can tell you that’s going to be a virtual impossibility,” he said. “I’ve had trouble recruiting people since mid-2021 when we started to feel COVID-19 was coming back.”

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