It all began when the Bidwill’s and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) couldn’t find a home for their proposed football stadium. Sites were chosen and were either rejected by the voters of certain municipalities or their city councils or rejected by AZSTA and the Bidwills. Glendale was their last, best hope to make it happen. AZSTA and the Bidwills bought the land from the Pendergast family and the Rovey family. AZSTA and the Bidwills paid for the construction of the stadium. The Bidwill’s share of costs came from an NFL loan made at an incredibly low interest rate.
It was a rocky relationship from the start between Glendale and the Bidwills, in part because the Bidwills suffer from a grandiose sense of entitlement. They demanded various zoning concessions from the city that the city did not grant. So the Bidwills’ heartburn with Glendale started with the first time the city said, “No.” AZSTA and the Bidwills seem to forget that Glendale has some “skin in the game” having ponied up $35 million for infrastructure improvements in and around the stadium.
Glendale knew when the stadium came to town that the Super Bowl was part of the package. The thinking at that time was that Glendale would host its first Super Bowl, hoping to break even. Glendale embraced its hosting duties for the 2008 Super Bowl to make it the best ever. Judging from after-event comments, that is exactly what occurred. Kudos were bestowed on all partners: The Host Committee, AZSTA, the Bidwills and Glendale. Getting to the event and parking were painless thanks to the city’s Transportation Department. The weather was perfect thanks to God. The stadium was breathtakingly new and offered boundless amenities thanks to AZSTA and the Bidwills. Related NFL parties and events went off without a hitch thanks to the Host Committee. It was an unparalleled success.
There was one fly in the ointment – Glendale, the host city, lost money. Glendale had reserved over $2 million dollars for the event and spent over $2 million dollars (probably closer to $3 million) for public safety, transportation and traffic (helicopter rentals used to monitor traffic to the NFL Experience and on game day are not cheap), and sanitation (someone had to empty those pesky garbage cans every day). Those were just some of the costs associated with hosting. Be sure to add in the countless hours of staff time planning and preparing for the event.
Why didn’t Glendale make money? There are countless reasons. Some were that the city did not have the cache of Phoenix or Scottsdale or enough commercial amenities surrounding the site to cash in on. No one can deny that the rest of the state benefitted, from the Grand Canyon to Tucson. International and national visitors came to the state a week or better before the event or stayed for some time after the event. For some visitors to Arizona, it was a once in a lifetime experience and they made the most of their time here.
Is it any wonder why Glendale suffering a fiscal crisis (sports related debt) is asking for reimbursement this time around? It’s not a strange concept. The states of Texas and Florida already have systems in place for reimbursement of host cities. The first Super Bowl hosting was a test, a pilot project for Glendale. This time around it is not. I did not vote to support the bid for the 2015 Super Bowl until there was some replacement mechanism that could recompense Glendale for its hosting expenses.
Lately many of the ill-informed media have been dumping all over Mayor Weiers and Glendale for having the temerity to ask for such a mechanism. If they know the facts, they are ignoring them. Why would anyone volunteer to lose millions of dollars? Surely they must be aware that the entire state benefits from such an event. It just makes for good talky-talky but at the expense of public misinformation.
Michael Bidwill’s trashing of Glendale makes for great news also but does a disservice to everyone. If he thinks that will help to get Glendale’s hotels to cap their rates he is sadly mistaken. Those hotels are private businesses and cannot be made by Glendale to take an action that they prefer not to do. If the NCAA Final Four does not come here, thank Michael Bidwill for poisoning the atmosphere.
Let’s not leave the NFL out of this tirade. It has been reported that the NFL will earn $9 BILLION from the 2014 Super Bowl. They pay no tax on those earnings because they enjoy non-profit status granted to them by Congress. What a joke! If nothing else the NFL can surely afford the cost of making host cities whole. But it’s all about money, isn’t it? The NFL (read the football team owners who are the NFL) is not about to give up a penny. Greed is king. I am always reminded of seeing homes (mansions) with 28 bathrooms. Yet you can only use one at a time. When is enough money enough? Never, some will say.
If the NFL will not make host cities whole and there is no state mechanism to recompense host cities (other than Texas and Florida) then perhaps it is time for the host cities to form their own coalition. I have called for such action for years. If the cities got together, put some basic cost claims forward to the NFL and stuck together, the NFL would have to accede. Where would their event go?
One final word. After weeks of hype in anticipation of a super game instead we witnessed a super dud. It was disappointing to say the very least. The score was not even close. No one can, of course, control the outcome but one hopes that the scoring will be close to make the game entertaining. 43 to 8 is not entertaining. It is a blood bath. A few of the commercials were better than the game. Over 100 million tuned in but by the time it concluded you can be sure many of them had stopped watching.
My last informal poll on the question of the former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall’s questionable ethical behavior had 59% saying ‘Yes” his behavior was unethical to 41% saying “No.” My latest poll is to the left of this column.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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