Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Meadowlands Super Bowl the worst-kept secret in sports

Meadowlands Super Bowl the worst-kept secret in sports
TUESDAY, 25 MAY 2010 21:16

If you understand how National Football League owners operate, then it is really no surprise that the 2014 Super Bowl will be played in the Meadowlands. The NFL has been targeting a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl for years, first as part of a Manhattan west side Olympics/football stadium and then after that project failed in 2005, East Rutherford, N.J., at the new football stadium that would eventually replace Giants Stadium.
The new place didn't have a roof, but that was no big deal, even though the NFL likes warm weather sites for the extravaganza. The NFL uses the Super Bowl for leverage in getting new facilities and rewarded Houston, Detroit and Glendale, Arizona for building new stadiums with the Super Bowl. Next February's Super Bowl is at Jerry Jones' new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. If there is a 2011 NFL season, the big game will be played in Indianapolis in 2012. Indianapolis, despite the dome on the stadium, has been given the game because locals built a new stadium.
New Orleans gets the 2013 game partly because of guilt over Hurricane Katrina and because Louisiana came up with money to redo the Superdome and worked out a new lease arrangement with Saints owner Tom Benson.
The awarding of Super Bowls to communities who have done "the right thing" by NFL owners should not go unnoticed in places like San Diego, Santa Clara, California, Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minnesota. The NFL ownership is telling you, do the right thing – provide public money, and tax breaks such as payments in lieu of taxes or tax increment financing – and you will get a Super Bowl complete with the economic impact of at least $300 million although that figure is open to conjecture particularly in places like Miami, Tampa and Glendale, AZ., where "snowbirds" are displaced in favor of people coming to the Super Bowl.
Local motels and hotels raise their rates for the game but if the hotel/motel is part of a chain, the extra money goes back to the home office instead of the community. Hotel/motel workers do not get paid more money just because it is Super Bowl week. The economic impact is less than estimated in places like Miami, Tampa and Glendale and is substantially higher in Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul where there are not a lot of tourists in February. New York has a lull during February and this will bring some people to the area.
The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl's first impact might be felt in Santa Clara, California a week from Tuesday when voters will be asked to provide funding for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium. There has been one Bay Area Super Bowl at Stanford Stadium. The Super Bowl and the "economic impact" is a carrot that will be dangled before voters. No one knows exactly how much the Santa Clara stadium will cost or if it will house one team, the 49ers, or two, the 49ers and Oakland Raiders, or even if 49ers owner John York has the money to actually fund this nearly billion dollar building but proponents should be pointing to the Meadowlands Stadium as proof in the "if they build it, they will come" mantra.
South Florida may be out of the Super Bowl running because the NFL just doesn't like the present set up of the stadium and wants major improvements at the Miami Dolphins home just a few years after a major renovation. New York/New Jersey's 2014 win might be just the jolt that is needed to get someone to pony up a quarter of a billion dollars to fix up the Dolphins home. The NFL doesn't need Miami now that the door has been opened to Super Bowls in the metropolitan area and also Washington, Foxboro, MA., Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver and other cold weather cities.
San Diego and Minnesota are out of the Super Bowl rotation. The NFL wants no part of the more than four-decades old San Diego stadium and the nearly three-decades old Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Minnesota legislature tried to put together a Vikings stadium package in the recently concluded session but the clock ran out. They will try again next year with the Vikings/Metrodome lease expiring at the end of 2011. There seems to be nothing going on in Los Angeles in terms of getting a new stadium built and the NFL's hopes of holding Super Bowl L (50 for those who don't like Roman numerals) in 2016 seem to be fading. The Los Angeles Coliseum will still be there but it is not an NFL-friendly stadium.
The NFL is a business and can do what it wants with Super Bowls. The Giants' and Jets' new building lacks a corporate naming rights partner. The two teams might pick one up with the Super Bowl coming as Joe Robbie/Dolphin and a-host-of-naming-rights-partners Stadium did prior to this year's Super Bowl in Broward County in South Florida. But Jones' Cowboys Stadium is still Cowboys Stadium and the Super Bowl is just nine months away.
The Super Bowl is a big-ticket item and is not designed for the average fan. The high rollers are around for just Super Bowl weekend and just to clear up one misconception that Jacksonville learned the hard way, the high rollers just want to be seen at the game and have no intentions of relocating their business or opening up a branch for their business just because they are in town for a game. Jacksonville thought that would happen in 2005.
It didn't.
People are having trouble understanding the rationale behind the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl. Woody Johnson and John Mara are in the club, the owners club, and they were taken care of by their brethren. Just wait until the NFL decides to hold a game in London – not Ontario, but England. The Super Bowl might be a TV ratings monster in the U.S. and grab some Canadian viewership along with Mexico but globally the NFL is a dud.
The NFL would kill for the eyeballs that India/Pakistan gets for cricket or table tennis watchers in China. New York/New Jersey just might be the launching pad in a whole new chapter for the Super Bowl with just one goal in mind. Get as much money as possible from the Super Bowl franchise no matter what the weather is.
Evan Weiner is an author, radio-TV commentator, lecturer on the Business of Sports and can be reached at

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