Earlier this week, the NFL parlayed the interest of five cities into three Super Bowls via a process that, as a practical matter, results in the submission of competitive bids. Even with the loose, wink-nod quid pro quo that calls for a city with a new stadium to be included in the currently non-rotating Super Bowl rotation, cities need to bring something more to the table.
Case in point: The “wish list” for Super Bowl LII to be played at the soon-to-be christened venue in Minneapolis. Building the stadium should have been enough to get the game. As uncovered by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014, however, the NFL wanted a lot more than that. From free police escorts for team owners to 35,000 free parking spaces to presidential suites at no cost in high-end hotels, the league wasn’t bashful about asking for all sorts of stuff in exchange for the privilege of hosting the league’s premier annual event.
So what similar inducements were made by the cities vying for the trifecta of Super Bowls awarded on Tuesday via the submission of formal bids?
“We do not make them public,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email.
There’s a reason for that. Apparently, the bids include all sorts of extra stuff that could embarrass the league at best and invite scrutiny from relevant outside governmental agencies at worst. For example, one source with knowledge of the bids tells PFT that the failed New Orleans proposal for Super Bowl LIII included a $50,000 per-team credit for ground transportation, parties, and related expenses during Super Bowl week. Given that most teams inevitably will be spending that kind of cash during a week in New Orleans prior to the Super Bowl, it’s essentially a $50,000 gift given to each and every franchise — a total of $1.6 million in free money offered to the league by the New Orleans host committee for giving the city the Super Bowl.
Although every Super Bowl host committee relies on privately-raised funds to offset the costs for staging the games (I wonder whether the folks who donate know exactly how the money is being used), there’s a fine line between reimbursing costs and stuffing the already deep pockets of the league’s owners with more cold, hard cash. For that reason, it would be interesting to see each of the bids that were submitted in connection with Super Bowl LIII, LIV, and LV.
If anyone who has them wants to pass them along with a clear and unwavering commitment of anonymity and full protection, we’re easy to find.