Seahawks post-season means payday for local economy

SEATTLE -- Beyond the big plays and fan frenzy that come with the NFL playoffs, hosting a post-season game also promises a huge payday for the regional economy.

Late January can be a slow time for hotels, restaurants and bars, but a playoff game changes all that. However, even bigger is the national TV exposure, which is free to the city but priceless for its image.

"Our skyline, our waterfront. When they come to play in Seattle, it's nothing but an advertising piece for our community," said Ralph Morton, the executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission, which monitors the economic impacts of pro sports for the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"A home game in the playoffs means a huge crowd downtown," Morton said. "It means excitement for days building up to the game."

The 12th Man brought that excitement to FX McRory's in Pioneer Square, where fans ran up the tab. Owner Mick McHugh says the playoffs will be even better.

"It's January, right? Usually the deadest month of the year," McHugh said. "Now it's going to be a very exciting month."

Mchugh says his employees also come out on top.

"Everybody's on call," he said. "We had everybody on call already for the second week in January and so now they got a job and they are all thrilled."

Packed restaurants and booked-up hotels are great. There's also the run on merchandise like team jerseys and t-shirts, but the real treasure is the national exposure.

"It's going to be on TV and people are going to see that it's a great city," said Nick Fairburn shortly after the win over the St. Louis Rams. "Great place to live, great place to hang out."

Recent estimates show that hosting an NFL playoff game can generate anywhere from $9 million to $20 million in economic activity. The payday will only get better if the Hawks keep up their winning ways.

"If it becomes the Seattle Seahawks playing in New York in February, Seattle will be at the heart of every news story on all the sports channels," Morton said.