Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Unlike Big Oil, The NFL Need Not Clean Up Its Mess

 I'm so disgusted with politics that I swear never to write another story on that derisive subject until Thursday morning when President Obama holds a press conference on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In the meantime, I will seek comfort in the confines of the wonderful world of sports.

Oh my gosh, the National Football League owners are being accused of a fix for naming New York the site of the 2014 Super Bowl game. For years the game's biggest event has been played in a warm weather city or in one with a roof on its stadium.

The new stadium for the Giants and Jets ain't got a roof for a game played in either the last week of January or first week of February. Have you been in northern New Jersey on any Feb. 1? Oh, the inhumanity of it all. Shucks, even all the ice sports are played indoors. Forget the fact that football and its distant cousin rugby were designed for foul weather.

"The fix was in for New York," South Florida host committee chairman Rodney Barreto told the Miami Herald. "We threw $1 million extra on the table last night for game-day expenses. We could have put $10 million and it wouldn't have made a difference. We put an incredible presentation that clearly was head-and-shoulders above everyone.''

This, of course, could be sour grapes, but unlike the U.S. Senate, there is no filibuster rules in the NFL on Super Bowl site selection. Those closer to the game than I say between nine and 15 of the 32 NFL owners preferred a South Florida site.
"I think each game will be decided on an individual bases," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday.  "I do believe that New York is a unique market.  I think the membership recognizes that.  It is the number-one market in our country and in many cases around the world.  From that standpoint it will be a great experience for our fans and for the NFL.  I am confident that the bid they put together will turn out to be a great event."

I checked it out. Since the first "Super Bowl" game played in 1967 between the Green Bay  Packers and Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles, no game has been played in an NFL city where the average climate is under 50 degrees for the week around Feb. 1 except for those city's with lids on their playing fields.

Even the 2015 Super Bowl tentatively awarded to Kansas City is contingent on two votes authorizing construction of a roof on its stadium.

So what's the big deal? After all, the most paying customers can squeeze into these stadia is about 100,000 and a good portion of them with a blood alcohol level illegal to drive. The rest of us 100 million or more watch the game from the cozy confines of our homes, bars or restaurants.

I have a pony in this race, being a loyal fan of the San Diego Chargers. Each year I scour the schedule to find Charger road games played in those cold climate cities in November, December and January. My guys aren't adept at being mudders, skaters or skiers, you know, just a bunch of Left Coast wusses.

Mike Florio, the occasionally erudite NFL observer, offers this assessment:

Basically, the New York/New Jersey decision opens a new frontier of leverage when it comes to bidding for the Super Bowl, both as to the financial packages presented to the league and the ongoing keeping-up-with-the-Jerry-Joneses pursuit of newer and better stadiums.  In the end, the NFL will continue to win, and win big.

The only surprise in this regard is that it took the league 48 Super Bowls to figure this out.
Let's see. If the fix was in for New York, is there a fix in for voters to authorize taxpayer dollars to build roofed stadiums in foul weather cities for privately-owned NFL teams?

That sounds familiar. Oh, yes. It is the same as the federal government granting tax breaks and suspension of royalty payments to oil companies for off-shore deepwater oil drilling where quarterly profits are measured in 12-digit figures. Don't worry. The NFL owners don't have to clean up the mess if the project turns sour.

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