Phoenix Business Beats Recession By Renting Local Homes to Visiting Sports Fans

The Arizona Cardinals failed to grab the brass ring at this year's Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, but at least one Valley resident came away victorious.

Keith Johnson, owner of Phoenix-based, says his business has been booming since Super Bowl XLIII. Johnson's company rents out local peoples' homes to fans in various cities who are there visiting for major sporting events, and this past Super Bowl was a boon.

"The reason we're renting and listing homes all over the country now is because we had major success at the Super Bowl in Tampa," Johnson says.

Johnson's idea for came about during Super Bowl XLII, held at University of Phoenix Stadium last year.

"I had family coming into town in a large group, and they didn't want to stay at a hotel because the hotel was going to split their rooms up between floors three, four, and five," Johnson says. "So we decided to just rent a house. And then I thought, 'Hey, we could do this nationally.'"

A recent story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that during the Super Bowl in Tampa, Johnson nabbed a week-long stay at a luxury home that included use of a Mercedes S500 and six tickets for the Super Bowl. Johnson tells New Times the company was so pleased with the business it did during the '09 Super Bowl that they didn't bother trying to rent out homes for the NBA All-Star weekend, which took place in Phoenix February 12-16.

On its Web site, the company's got a laundry list of sporting events across the country for which they offer rentals -- including the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis in July, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York this fall.

And Johnson says the company's branching out, trying to get ticket brokers in on the deals, too.
"I want ticket sellers in Arizona to know we have an affiliate program. Every time a ticket broker refers someone to us for a rental, if they rent from us, the broker receives a commission check for $500," he says.
With the announcement that University of Phoenix Stadium will host Wrestlemania next year (an event which drew more than 74,000 fans to Orlando, Florida last year), we wondered if Johnson's company will be offering housing. He says he's not sure yet.
"I haven't considered Wrestlemania," he says. "I'm not too familiar with the WWE or the demand for housing. But I might look into it."

The next major sporting event in the Valley for which plans to offer service  is the Fiesta Bowl, slated to take place January 4, 2010, at U of P Stadium.