As Philadelphia and Pittsburgh compete both against each other and with many more cities to become the second Amazon headquarters, there’s another brewing in-state rush for something even bigger to their sports fans.
The Super Bowl.
Only one time did two teams from the same state square off in the Super Bowl. It came in the 1994 season and only after San Diego came to Three Rivers Stadium and pulled a huge upset in the AFC championship to advance to Super Bowl XXIX opposite San Francisco.
Now the Philadelphia Eagles, atop the NFC at 6-1, and the Steelers, tied atop the AFC at 5-2, would like to make it an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl XLII.
It would be Wentzylvania vs. Bensylvania, pitting sensational Eagles’ second-year quarterback Carson Wentz against 14th-year vet Ben Roethlisberger and his two rings. It would be a boom for both cities and the state.
If each team can stay on its path and wrap up a No. 1 playoff seed in its respective conference, two home playoff games for both could bring in nearly $100 million to both areas of the state.
“The most important thing in terms of improving economic outcomes in a city from events like this is how many out of towners the city can attract and stay overnight,’’ said Mary Hansen, an economics professor at American University.
VisitPITTSBURGH, which specializes in such things, estimates that each Steelers playoff game would generate $22 million for the region.
“One thing economists pay attention to is not so much spending but how much the net gain is,’’ Hanson said. “Playoff season is a time when there’s not a lot going on. The impact in January would be much larger than the impact, say, when you have big summer festival. Adding an event during the Fourth of July won’t do much good, but adding an event when there’s a lot of open hotel space would have the maximum amount.”
Besides the economic boost, an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl would be an emotional shot to the entire state. The center of the state, emanating from Gettysburg and north through Penns Woods, could serve as the next great battlefield, this time an East-West division. Harrisburg or State College would be the epicenter of the football universe in January and February.
The closest the teams came to playing each other in a Super Bowl occurred in the 2004 season. Philadelphia won the NFC championship to advance to Super Bowl XXXIX, but the Steelers lost to the Patriots in Heinz Field in the AFC title game.
It may be too early to speculate with more than half the season to run, but what the heck.