Super Bowl "wish list" items are requirements

Minneapolis finds out how much it must give up for the 2018 game

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune today (June 9) published the confidential wish list that the National Football League (NFL) demands of a Super Bowl host. Minneapolis will host the game in 2018. The requirements are detailed in a 153-page NFL document that up to now has been secret.

Among many other things, the NFL demands that the host city provide free police escorts for team owners and 35,000 free parking spaces. The league wants free presidential suites at high-end hotels. The league wants guarantees to receive all revenue from ticket sales and wants NFL-preferred ATMs at the stadium.

The league requests free access to top-quality golf courses during the summer or fall before the game. It wants free curbside parking at a so-called "NFL House," which is defined as a "high-end, exclusive drop-in hospitality facility for our most valued and influential guests to meet, unwind, network, and conduct business."

The hotels where the teams stay are required to televise NFL Network for a year before the game — at no cost to the league, of course. The league requires that government licensing fees be waived for as many as 450 courtesy cars and buses, according to the Star-Tribune. The league wants at least 20 free billboards to promote the game. The host city will pay all travel and expenses for a "familiarization trip" for 180 people to come to the city in advance of the game. The NFL asks that if cell-phone signal strength at team hotels are not strong enough, then at no cost to the league, the host city will be responsible for erecting portable cellular towers.

The league wants — for free — two top-quality bowling venues to be reserved for the Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic. The league demands at least 20 color pages of free space in the leading daily newspaper to promote the game. It also wants four weeks of free promotion on at least six local radio stations, adding up to at least 250 ads.

The newspaper doesn't mention this, but the National Football League claims that the host Super Bowl city can reap anywhere from a $400 million to $600 million windfall. However, objective economists say the take is about $35 million, and some say the host city actually loses money on the game. If you study the free services the league demands, you can see why the host city can easily lose money on the game.

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But Don, how can you doubt The League? They wouldn't possibly take advantage of a host city, would they? Why, it's an HONOR to host the Super Bowl (Just ask the NFL). Teams, er, cities build new stadia everywhere to get in on the Super Bowl rotation--oh, wait, there isn't one anymore. But the hundreds of millions of dollars--oh, wait, fantasy numbers. Oh never mind.

aardvark: Professional football is one of the most profitable of all industries, handed monopoly status by a sycophantic Congress. This is a business that is wed to the gambling industry and knows nothing but greed. A full 18 of the 32 owners in the NFL are billionaires, but even sophisticated cities like Minneapolis rush to hand them taxpayers' money. Best, Don Bauder

Much of these demands suggest something akin to the things done for royalty in the more despotic and backward places on Earth that still have royalty. Everyone is expected to give and give again to the royal family and party and be "honored" to be able to give to the undeserving. Ceausescu in Romania never had it so good! If real football fans understood how the system really works, they might shun the sport for good. Nah, nevahappen!

Visduh: Yours are perceptive observations. Real football fans will never understand how the system works because they don't want to understand it. Best, Don Bauder

Well, maybe cities haven't figured out that spending a billion dollars or so on a football stadium is a horrible investment - but at least they're starting to figure out that spending up to FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS to host an Olympics is a huge waste of money. After Sochi, many applicant cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics are dropping like flies.

ImJustABill: Yes, taxpayers may figure out the Olympics pick their pockets, but they don't want to know how pro football does it. I have tried for decades to show how the NFL historically has been tied to the gambling industry and organized crime, but people simply don't want to believe it. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Again, I am shocked--SHOCKED--that you doubt the sincerity if the NFL. The NFL--tied to GAMBLING??!! Say it's not so! (Of course, there is the little matter of head coaches being fined by the league for not reporting all players injured on the weekly injury reports, and the league tweaking the injury reports to list injured players as probable, questionable, doubtful, or out. Or the changing of the day of publishing the injury reports from Thursday to Wednesday--it's as if the sportsbooks/gambling industry requested the changes, and the NFL obliges)

aardvark: The authoritative book, "Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football," is a thoroughly-documented, heavily-footnoted reference that tells how the league was essentially launched by gamblers and mobsters, and continued to be controlled by that element through the book's publishing in 1989. A new last chapter has been added for e-books. I have been promised I will get a copy. Best, Don Bauder

"I have tried for decades to show how the NFL historically has been tied to the gambling industry and organized crime, but people simply don't want to believe it." Don Bauder, Have you ever considered the possibility that its not that people don't want to believe it, but rather that they simply just don't care?

danfogel: Some don't want to believe and others don't care -- no doubt. When I first joined the Union, I was going to combine with a reporter and do a series on mobster ownership of teams. A Washington DC Congrressional investigator told me how his committee would pile up such evidence, but nobody wanted to hear it, and politicians didn't want it released. (The series never ran; it was killed internally before we ever wrote a word.)

I do believe that those foolish enough to gamble on pro sports, particularly football, would be well advised to read up on the history. Owners have been snug with gamblers since the beginning. You are betting against people who know more than you do. Best, Don Bauder

Perhaps there are some people who believe it but don't want to say it. The National Football League has certainly been known to suppress information that might paint it in a bad light (e.g. forcing cancellation of PBS/ESPN partnership on concussion documentary )

ImJustABill: Yes, the NFL has pressured the media on many other matter than the concussion scandal. Also remember that local sportswriters are wined and dined by teams. In many cities, including San Diego, sports columnists are absolutely in the pockets of owners, particularly when the owners want a multi-million taxpayer handout. Best, Don Bauder

Jack Murphy was a perfect example, though at that time he was in the pocket of the local powers that wanted a big time sports franchise, in this case the Chargers, in San Diego, rather than the owners. I have read that it was the same with the Padres and that Murphy heavily lobbied in favor of the AAA Padres first stadium in Mission Valley, where Fashion Valley is, and then the Murph, which I think was originally called San Diego Stadium. Most people assume that the renaming of the stadium as the Murph and the placement of the statue of Jack Murphy and his dog was because of his status as a sportswriter. There are some, however, who think there was a different meaning intended, a thank you, or an unacknowledged quid pro quo to his efforts on behalf of those who wanted the NFL and MLB in San Diego.

danfogel: Yes, the late Jack Murphy talked original Chargers owner Barron Hilton (who had long-time ties to mobbed up L.A. lawyer Sidney Korshak) to move the team from L.A. to San Diego. Murphy also proselytized for the building of the stadium now called Qualcomm. Also, Murphy recruited a bunch of business executives to ante up for a slush fund to pay Don Coryell under the table so he would stay at San Diego State.

On the other hand, when I opposed the 60,000 seat guarantee and the Padres ballpark swindle, and said so in public, I was punished with a week without pay, and told that it was a conflict of interest to express an opinion outside of the office. I asked that if it was a conflict of interest for me to oppose a stadium deal, why was it not for Murphy to proselytize for one? I was told "he was taking a position in line with our editorial position."

At the time, Herb Klein was the public relations head of the committee pushing for a Padres ballpark subsidy. I opposed it. I was told it was a conflict of interest for me to oppose it in public. I said, "What about Herb Klein? He is the PR man for the project."

I was told, "Oh, he is a special representative for Helen Copley."

I replied, "His title is editor of Copley Newspapers. Should the editor be doing PR for this subsidy?"

No response. I tell you, the Union-Tribune was a barrel of laughs -- then and now. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I doubt you laughed then. More likely you wept.

Visduh: I didn't weep, but they made it extremely difficult for me to continue to oppose these corporate welfare sports schemes. Don't think I got good raises or good performance reviews.

After the brass discussed it, they decided I could talk about it outside of the office (at a speech or on TV or radio) but I had to say that I was speaking for myself, not the U-T. That was not a problem. I would be asked my position on one of the other of the stadium scams. I would say that I do not approve of billionaire sports team owners taking money from state school systems for subsidized stadiums. But I would add, "However, I hasten to add that my newspaper does not agree with that position." Best, Don Bauder

Some enterprising reporter(s) ought to send out a flurry of public-records act requests to find out which public agencies in the Bay Area are giving free services to the NFL and/or paying the NFL's hotel/entertainment tabs for Super Bowl 50. Let's find out how much money is being given away and which politicians are doing the giving.

Matt101: I just wonder if the public record requests would get ashcanned for arbitrary reasons, stalled indefinitely -- you know the tricks that are played. The Minneapolis paper did a great service getting that document that has been kept secret for years.

I have been told the NFL has -- or had -- a booklet telling each team what steps to take to fleece a city into building a stadium for billionaire owners. -- you know, threaten to leave town, ad nauseam. Best, Don Bauder

All the perks are one thing--but as the weather could be very uncooperative--to the tune of 40 degrees below zero at worst--I have to wonder at what cost this could be for the players. The fans can just go inside somewhere. I think the NFL is nuts to hold the Superbowl in an open air stadium in Minnesota. But then I only occasionally experience cold temperatures and when I do, it is by choice.

Eastlaker: The reason the SB is being held in Minneapolis is a new domed stadium is being constructed to take the place of the old domed stadium. Even the NFL isn't THAT dumb. But getting to the game--that could be a bit of a problem for some--as if the NFL cared.

aardvark: You are right and I was confused. The new stadium, which will be ready for the 2018 Super Bowl, will have a roof. The Minnesota Gophers stadium does not, and the Vikings will play in it for two years before the new stadium opens. Mea culpa. Best, Don Bauder

Don: No problem. It really is hard to keep track of all the stadia built in that region recently; Target Field for baseball, TCF Bank Stadium for Univ. of Minnesota football, and the new Vikings Stadium to be built, with the public "contributing" well over $1 billion for all 3 facilities combined (so far).

aardvark: Yes, Minnesota taxpayers feed money to pro and university football, as well as pro baseball, but wouldn't give significant help to the symphony orchestra when it ran into trouble. (It is now back on its feet -- sort of.) Maybe Minnesotans just can't forget Bronko Nagurski. Best, Don Bauder

Buffalo's stadium isn't that new. I'm sure the NFL will be pulling the 'ol "build us a stadium because it will benefit the economy" song and dance there soon. I wonder if they would build another outdoor stadium in Buffalo and if so if they would have a SB in Buffalo. Not as cold as Minn - but a TON of snow there.

ImJustABill: I can't imagine an outside Super Bowl in Buffalo. But if taxpayers are conned into building such a stadium...... Best, Don Bauder

If a new stadium is open-air, don't look for a Super Bowl in Buffalo. Unless they play it in July.

aardvark: Yes, but handing out Super Bowls has now become a gift for any team based in any climate that fleeces taxpayers into paying for a new stadium. That's one reason why the San Diegans who claim that a new stadium will lead to multiple Super Bowls are lying or pathetically uniformed. They should know that so many promises have been made to other cities that San Diego would see very few. Best, Don Bauder

But at least you don't have to worry about that in Denver, either the fleecing of taxpayers like you, or all of the welfare Denver would handout for a Super Bowl, since they will never get one. And as for another Super Bowl in San Diego, LA will get one before San Diego does. And since London will get a team before LA does, thereforea Super Bowl in London is almost a sure thing before San Diego.Personally, I doubt that you will see a Super Bowl in San Diego in your lifetime. The NFL accept bids five years out and it decides which three team are allowed to present bids. They will choose the three teams that can bid on the 2019 Super Bowl this fall. For San Diego to even be consider for being among the chosen 3 to bid, they would at least have to bee at the stage Minnesota is which means they need to have a site, design, plans approved, financing in place and construction under way with a completion date. A little rough math tells me at least 2017, at least before they could even request to be considered for a bidding spot, then a bidding spot the following year, which mean probably the 2023 Super Bowl, at the earliest. And that's only if they get the ball rolling in the next year or so. So, as I said, not something you're likely going to see in your life time.

danfogel: Some people have tried to point that out to rah-rah Chargers supporters. Hey, folks, a Super Bowl will be a long time coming and in the future, Super Bowls will be few and far between -- for San Diego and other cities, too. Best, Don Bauder

I just keep wondering how San Diego has possibly survived in the 11 years since San Diego last hosted the Super Bowl. I don't give a rat's ass if San Diego ever hosts a Super Bowl again--even if/when they build a new stadium.

aardvark: Promoters claim that a city gets all kinds of positive publicity from hosting a Super Bowl. But can you remember who hosted past Super Bowls? I can remember the last one was in the stadium of the Giants and Jets, but only because at the time it was unusual to give a game to a cold metro area without a roof. Best, Don Bauder

eastlaker: Of course it could be bad for the players. But the NFL is run by and for the owners, not the players. They can suffer permanent damage and the NFL doesn't give a damn, as the ongoing concussion controversy illustrates. Best, Don Bauder

CANEPA SAYS "SD CAN'T AFFORD SUPER BOWL" Nick Canepa, influential sports columnist for the Union-Tribune, has long been a rabid supporter of massive subsidies for San Diego pro sports stadiums. This morning (June 11) he shocked many San Diegans by picking up the message from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune piece that ran here two days ago. (I don't know that he got it from the Reader.)

The head on Canepa's column: "SD can't afford to host Super Bowl." Canepa lashed the National Football League for its greedy demands. He also said, "Obviously, San Diego won't get another Super Bowl without a new stadium, but isn't going to get one very often even if it happens." People who understand that the NFL dangles Super Bowls to bribe metro areas to into subsidize local stadiums have known for years that the league is promising bowls left and right. But it is stunning to see the U-T's top sports columnist admit it.

San Diegans wonder if "Papa" Doug Manchester, John Lynch, CEO Mike Hodges and the editor were aware of Canepa's forthright column before it ran. If so, what does that mean? Best, Don Bauder

Don: I mentioned the same thing in the Manchester U-T. A certain faction in this city will be very disappointed. Maybe Canepa is about to retire? Or about to be retired?

aardvark: Well, Tim Sullivan, who was lukewarm on subsidized stadiums, was fired. Upon arriving, Lynch said reporters and columnists had to be for a new Chargers stadium. Sullivan, a thinking person's sports columnist, got canned. Canepa's column is very, very interesting. Best, Don Bauder

Oops. I somehow missed the above post (Don 's re Canepa) before adding my message below.

Sez me,

Maybe Canepa has come to his senses - or at least figured this whole thing has gone far enough. It's a little bit harder now to make the argument "San Diego can have a SB every 5 years if only they would build a stadium" when the NFL has made it clear they will have a SB ANYWHERE that an expensive stadium gets built.

ImJustABill: Also, we must keep in mind that the NFL's dangling of hosting Super Bowls is accompanied by a total lie -- that cities will reap $300 million to $600 million from a Super Bowl. It's more like $35 million, or possibly less than zero. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I see in today's Union that none other than Nick Canepa has unexpectedly taken up the cause and is calling the NFL to task for these shenanigans. Uncharted territory for him, and he even says "......we don't need it, and can't afford it anyway". While I applaud his stance, I sense just a whiff of a jilted lover. Kudos are due, anyway.


by Duhbya

Duhbya: Canepa won't get kudos from the brass, I will bet. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah, any kudos from them would be pseudos.

Duhbya: You couldn't resist that. Best, Don Bauder

I wonder if Citizen Manchester walked into Canepa's office and decided to finish Canepa's column for him, the way Charles Foster Kane finished the negative opera review of his wife.

ImJustABill: Canepa's column was pretty eye-opening all the way through. I still can't figure out why the U-T brass permitted a columnist to tell the truth. Best, Don Bauder

Nick "keep the cannoli" Canepa's column may be an opening salvo in Papa Doug's push for a tax increase to pay for all the goodies. It's clear to me that taxes must rise to pay for AG Spanos Stadium and other projects. Papa Doug probably realizes that new tax revenue is needed to bring his pipe dreams into fruition.

Burwell: That's certainly plausible -- perhaps Papa Doug is preparing San Diegans to accept a tax increase to pay for a Chargers stadium. But to do this, the U-T would in effect be saying, "For years we swallowed b.s. about hosting Super Bowls, and we're not going to swallow it anymore." The paper should have realized the NFL Super Bowl Dangle was b.s. years ago. Best, Don Bauder

Are Manchester and Lynch on the same page re a Chargers giveaway/stadium? I wonder. Lynch loves his unicorn dream of an unfathomably expensive palace on the waterfront (paid for by you and me and other taxpayers of course). Manchester said about a year ago that he could build a new stadium on the Qualcomm Stadium site for far less, and Manchester's own developer, Perry Dealy, rolled out a plan a few years ago to redevelop the land at the Q and build a new stadium on that site.

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