Disclaimer: I voted in favor of Glendale’s hosting of the 2008 Super Bowl. I wanted to see if its results benefited Glendale financially. It did not. As a result, I voted against Glendale’s hosting of the 2015 Super Bowl. Please take a moment to participate in my informal Super Bowl poll to the left of this article.
The NFL is a non-profit and also a monopoly. It has tremendous wealth and power. It encourages potential host cities to upgrade or construct football facilities with the promise of a Super Bowl. It validates the economic benefits of a Super Bowl by funding economic studies and then uses their results liberally.
How did Glendale end up in this mess? Go back to the time when the Bidwills were looking for a permanent home for the Cardinals’ stadium. Remember? None of the East Valley cities, even Mesa, wanted it. The East Valley was where they yearned to locate but it was not to be. So it came as no surprise that John F. Long’s offer of free land in West Phoenix adjacent to the 101 was rejected. Glendale was the bridesmaid who became a bride by default. After all possible options had been explored Glendale was chosen. It was positively embarrassing.
The state created the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) as a mechanism to fund construction of the stadium and the Bidwills took out a loan (at an extremely favorable interest rate) from the NFL’s G-3 Stadium Program. Glendale issued $35 million dollars worth of bonds to pay for enhancing the infrastructure around the stadium. Make no mistake it may be a County facility outwardly under the control of AZSTA but it is the Bidwills who silently manage and operate the facility.
As the specifics of the event unfold it was learned that Scottsdale would continue to have a mutual relationship with the NFL for many years to come regarding hotel rooms and in fact, the teams would stay at Scottsdale hotels. Nearly all of the associated events and parties – even the media center — would be in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe — any place but Glendale. We aren’t tony enough. Is it any wonder when you hear when Jacksonville hosted the Super Bowl each of the 32 team owners was given personalized use of a yacht?
It remains advantageous to every entity but Glendale to this day. Just look at the Scottsdale Council Economic Development report of April 30, 2013. Here’s the link: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/Asset48262.aspx . Check out the proposed agreement summary below between the Arizona Host Committee and Scottsdale. Is it any wonder Glendale may not be thrilled with the prospect of hosting at a loss when it continues to receive the back of the NFL’s and Arizona Host Committee’s hand?
“Proposed Agreement Summary
The following are benefits outlined in the proposed agreement between the City and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
• Host Committee will include 3,194 hotel and resort rooms within Scottsdale in its official Super Bowl XLIX room block.
• Host Committee, working with the SCVB (Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau), will encourage Host Committee sponsors and prominent groups to use Scottsdale hotels and resorts for Super Bowl XLIX.
• Host Committee, working with the Sponsor and SCVB, will encourage the use of Scottsdale venues and businesses as sites for Host Committee events and activities related to Super Bowl XLIX. The Host Committee will encourage the use of Scottsdale bars and restaurants as sites for third parties for private events.
• Host Committee will include Sponsor and SCVB representatives, to the extent qualified, on committees dealing with regional public safety and transportation issues associated with the Super Bowl. Sponsor and SCVB will also be represented on committees, if any, dealing with Host Committee events in Scottsdale.
• Host committee will work with SCVB to highlight key Scottsdale resorts, venues, restaurants, etc. during the Host Committee FAM trip proposed for 2014.
• Host Committee will use commercially reasonable efforts to include applicable Scottsdale businesses in Host Committee’s Business Connect Program, benefiting local minority and women-owned businesses.
• Sponsor will have representation in the Host Committee Business Development program, focused on attracting new companies to or expansion of existing companies in Arizona and Scottsdale, and increasing Scottsdale’s convention and meeting business.
• In accordance with the Agreement and Sponsor Guidelines, Sponsor or SCVB logo or text will be included in Arizona Host Committee promotional materials including website and brochures.
• In accordance with the Agreement and Sponsor Guidelines, Host Committee will include Scottsdale events in its social media and provide support for Sponsor events, which might include guest speakers, mascot appearances, etc.
• Host Committee will provide Sponsor directly, or if requested by Sponsor, provide SCVB for the benefit of Sponsor, with corporate entertainment and hospitality opportunities related to Super Bowl XLIX consisting of:
• 12 Super Bowl XLIX Game Tickets
• 12 Host Committee Pre/Post Game Hospitality Tickets
• 30 NFL Experience Tickets
• 12 Tickets, in the aggregate, to Host Committee events or other VIP experiences as mutually agreed upon between the Host Committee and Sponsor
• Host Committee will designate a Host Committee liaison that is available to the Sponsor for questions, concerns, resolutions.
• Host Committee, at the Sponsor’s request, will provide an annual meeting and/or written communications that provide updates on all that is occurring in the way of progress, planning of the event, as well as sponsorship deliverables beginning December 2013.
• Host Committee shall provide the Sponsor a Post Event Report, which will enable an evaluation of the Host Committee’s performance under this Agreement Report shall include a valuation of the Sponsorship Benefits. The report shall be provided to Sponsor no later than 60 days following the conclusion of Super Bowl XLIX.
• In addition to the Post Event Report, if requested. Host Committee will work with Sponsor to prepare recap for the Sponsor Council within 60 days following Super Bowl XLIX.
• Host Committee will make available to SCVB additional promotional opportunities related to Super Bowl XLIX.”
ESPN has announced it will use Scottsdale as its base for weeklong Super Bowl coverage and will offer the city tons of free publicity as it highlights Scottsdale’s desert scenes. For another “diss” to Glendale check out this website: http://www.visitphoenix.com/media/details/index.aspx?nid=412 that blatantly announces that the NFL has chosen Phoenix as its 2015 host city. Geez…and all along we thought Glendale was the host city. How silly of us. Every Glendale resident should be outraged.
How does the Arizona Host Committee fit into this scenario? It is the interface with the NFL. It prepares and presents a bid for consideration to the team owners. It is charged with raising millions of dollars to offset the costs (and perks offered to team owners and NFL upper management) of the Super Bowl. It is the visible voice of the Super Bowl until the NFL arrives in town. It must gather thousands of volunteers to work the event. Each of the participating cities must tithe to the Host Committee based on population (ironically, Glendale’s population is greater than that of Scottsdale’s). Prior to the first Super Bowl in Glendale the Host Committee virtually ignored Glendale. It had meetings of which Glendale was not informed and to which Glendale was not invited to participate. From then until now it has treated Glendale as the poor relative to be tolerated. It never welcomed Glendale as a full participant in the decisions or preparations. When Glendale’s financial loss from the first Super Bowl it hosted was known I began to call for the Host Committee and major beneficiary cities like Phoenix and Scottsdale to lobby for legislation to make the host cities financially whole. After all, it would have benefited them as well. The silence was deafening. What about the Bidwills? After all, they have a lot of influence in this state. Where was their support? Oh wait, they are holding out for a parking garage built by the city. Collectively there was none and instead we heard that perhaps we should wait a few years until the legislative atmosphere was more amenable. Well, a few years have passed and there’s still no support.
The September 29, 2013 edition of the Arizona Republic blares that the NFL will place events in other Valley cities. Oh really? No big deal. They’ve been sticking it to Glendale for years. Excuse me, what are they going to take away when there are no events slated for Glendale to begin with? No, this is really a piece of heavy handed blackmail, big time, by the NFL. They perceive that proverbial crack in the host city dike. They want Glendale’s hotel rooms. Glendale’s hoteliers have declined to participate and why should they? What’s in it for them? Do they get additional publicity because a team is staying at a Glendale hotel? No. Do they get additional publicity because NFL team owners are staying at a Glendale hotel? No. There is no incentive for Glendale hoteliers to cooperate. It earns them nothing other than a cap on what they charge for a room during the event. When will they realize that if they want Glendale’s support and that of its hoteliers rather than using the blackmail stick they might consider the incentive carrot. Our Moms used to say, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.” It’s time for the Host Committee and the NFL to welcome Glendale into the fold as a full participant in preparation for this event.
Think about this. The NFL has set up a system whereby host cities must bid against one another and are forced to offer more and more outrageous goodies for the privilege. It’s time for the host cities to form a consortium of their own to stop this ever more expensive and crazy bidding war. They should develop their own basic ground rules and commonalities of interest. Perhaps they should develop a rotation system. It would certainly be to their advantage. What is the NFL going to do? Move to Europe? Hardly.
Did Glendale do a good job hosting its first Super Bowl? You bet it did. The city received many kudos. We were told by NFL officials, “You had the best Super Bowl ever.” Is Glendale capable of hosting the Super Bowl? Of course it is. Transportation and Public Safety personnel already have the experience of one under their belts and have been planning for the next one. Our city personnel are competent and experienced. The city is ready. Is parking an issue? No, it is not. Part of the parking requirements in the bid refer to the NFL Experience which is going to Phoenix, not Glendale. No surprise. The NFL rents vacant land to use as temporary parking lots in addition to the parking provided by Glendale. It’s a non-issue. There is one area of concern. In preparation for 2008 the council made a conscious decision to allocate funds in a special account for several years prior to the event. This time there has been no conscious decision to allocate funds for use during the event. Perhaps it will be done at the October 1, 2013 city council workshop or failing that, certainly at the council budget workshops in the spring. The 2008 Super Bowl cost the city over $2M. Expect that cost to have doubled to at least $4M. Where will it come from? Council must address this issue and do so quickly.
Someone asked if the first Super Bowl was so bad for Glendale why is it hosting another one? The answer is not quite so simple. A majority (I was not one) of the council voted to participate in the bid process and therefore were on board to act on a winning bid. I cannot speak for the majority. Their rationale appeared to be to ignore Glendale’s fiscal loss from 2008 and to focus on the intangibles, especially the Frisoni message of intangible publicity value for Glendale. I question that assumption when the media center will be sited in Phoenix and networks like ESPN will broadcast from Scottsdale. I assume they thought the intangibles outweighed the negative fiscal loss to the city. Or perhaps they feel that hosting the Super Bowl gets them an invitation into the “big boys club.” Our former mayor, who voted in favor of hosting the Super Bowl in 2015, often stated that the West Valley, especially Glendale, did not get the respect it deserved from other Phoenix metro cities. Councilmembers Knaack and Martinez were very tight with the former mayor and may have shared her perspective.
If I was on Glendale’s city council and another opportunity presented itself to host another Super Bowl, just as for 2015, under the current conditions, I would vote “no.” It’s a matter of principle. Glendale must be recognized by the NFL and the Arizona Host Committee as a full partner in the process. It must reap some of the rewards as a host city by becoming a site for major special events and parties. Until there is a financial mechanism in place to make Glendale whole it makes absolutely no sense for our residents to subsidize an event that seems to benefit everyone but Glendale.
©Joyce Clark, 2013
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