On April 22, 2014 on a vote of 16-10 HB 2547 was rejected in the Arizona Senate. It would have partially reimbursed Glendale for public safety expenditures related to hosting the upcoming Super Bowl in 2015. This is an event that generates large sales tax revenues all over the state and especially in the Phoenix Metro area.
Here are realities some Arizona senators conveniently ignored. The state, the county, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA), the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the Bidwills all breathed a sigh of relief when Glendale stepped up to the tune of $35M for infrastructure improvements surrounding the stadium and accepted construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale when no other city in the Phoenix Metropolitan area was willing to do so. Glendale held its tongue when publicly slapped in the face by the naming of the stadium as the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Glendale looked forward to its first Super Bowl hosting experience and assumed that new sales tax revenues would cover the costs associated with being a host city. It was a pilot project and learning experience. Glendale did an outstanding job of hosting and has been praised as a model experience. Glendale spent $2.2M in 2008 as a host city. It earned sales tax revenue of $1M losing $1.2M in the process. It was an expensive lesson.
If anyone believes that public safety was the only cost to Glendale for hosting the 2008 Super Bowl, they are fools. Don’t forget at a minimum to include sanitation and transportation. Glendale sanitation had extra duties in assuring that the venue was clean and neat for a minimum of two weeks.. Glendale’s transportation staff coordinated all of the transportation logistics during the NFL Experience and on game day. Then there were the countless hours of Glendale staff time in preparation for the event and the countless meetings with NFL and Arizona Host Committee officials. Glendale put a lot of skin into the 2008 game yet it was cities like Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix that reaped gorilla sized sales tax revenues.
Some of these Arizona senators were lied to with impunity. They were told that Glendale made money on the 2008 Super Bowl. I was there. I was on the city council. I saw the figures. Glendale did not make money. I was one of only two councilmembers who voted against hosting it again in 2015 for the very reason that Glendale lost money. I said publicly at the time that without a reimbursement mechanism in place I could not support hosting it again.
If anyone believes that $2M will cover the costs of hosting the Super Bowl in 2015, next year, they, too, are fools. City Council intended to build up a fund of $4 to $6M over 6 years to cover the anticipated expenses. Everything from gas, to salaries, to vehicle use, to supplies has gone up. Then council became preoccupied with the Coyotes mess and was raped by the NHL to the tune of $25M a year for two years. The set aside fund never materialized.
Finally, this year Glendale crafted a bill to recapture its costs as a host city. The original figure requested was $4M and it watched as the bill was steadily watered down to $2M accepting that something was better than nothing. In the meantime AZSTA, the Host Committee and the Bidwills came up with their own bill requesting $10M. It never made it to the Arizona House of Representatives’ floor for a vote. It died an ignominious death.
So where were they? Why didn’t AZSTA, the Host Committee and the Bidwills buck up and support Glendale? When their bill died did they just pick up their marbles and leave the fight? You bet they did. They view Glendale as a red-headed stepchild – a child that doesn’t play well with others. After all, how dare Glendale not make its hotels bow to the pressure and cap their room rates? They blamed Glendale for not dictating terms to private hotel entities. They also claimed, falsely, that Glendale would not provide the necessary, stipulated parking needed for game day. Not true but in their view Glendale, quite simply, had become a pain in their butts.
Mayor Weiers and Vice Mayor Knaack publicly acknowledged at the April 22, 2014 council meeting that Glendale cannot continue to absorb the costs of hosting the Super Bowl without reimbursement. They made it quite clear that it is an unsustainable proposition. I applaud the fact that they have put everyone on notice and unless a reimbursement mechanism is created Glendale will not be in the business of hosting future Super Bowls. It’s about time. It’s nice to finally have some public company on this issue. Way to go Mayor Weiers and Vice Mayor Knaack. The ball is in AZSTA’s, the Host Committee’s and the Bidwill’s court. It’s their turn to play nicely and to acknowledge that Glendale is a valuable asset to them. After all, they can’t pick up their marbles (er, stadium) and go away, can they? Ironic, isn’t it? They may have cooked their golden goose.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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