"The Super Bowl is the NFL's championship game and our most important opportunity to celebrate with our teams, fans, and business partners. For the host region, it is also an economic engine that can accelerate the development of local infrastructure improvements, enhance community pride, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact."
That paragraph is the crux of the NFL's sales pitch to cities who think, "Hey, hosting the Super Bowl sounds like fun!"
Hosting the city is essentially one massive billion dollar salve on all of your city's urban blight, and a ticket to infrastructure plastic surgery that will have your metropolitan area functioning in a space age warp that makes the sci-fi city the Jetsons live in look downright antebellum. A real life Coruscant!
Since multiple cities have successfully bid on the Super Bowl multiple times (including Houston!), I am going to assume that the NFL's pitch is baked in truth, which makes this article in Minnesota's Star Tribune all the more interesting.
In case you missed it over the last couple weeks, Minnesota won the right to host Super Bowl LII (that's 52, to you non-Romans), much to the chagrin of radio hosts and media types who enjoy warm weather, outdoor drinking, and locale specific cuisine (shout out to Mother's near the French Quarter, where I ate once a day back in January 2013).
If you didn't know this, your reaction was probably similar to everyone else's -- MINNESOTA?!? WTF?!? (Mine had more outright curse words.)
Yes, Minnesota. How did this happen? (Read that question in a "harried, bitter" tone for media members. Everyone else, read it in a "just curious" tone.)
Well, like a handful of other cities, Minneapolis (and the Vikings) responded to this Request For Proposal, and were ever mindful of the following clause: "Meeting the minimum Bid specifications outlined in the following subsections are essential to a successful Bid."
If you have about two hours of free time and fetish for extreme boredom, you can read all 153 pages of the RFP. For our purposes here, I just wanted to pick out a few of the highlights with an eye on Super Bowl foibles past and the other eye on Houston's successful bid for the Super Bowl in 2017.
First, let's preface all of this with this little factoid -- the words "at no cost to the NFL" are found in this document 161 times. And that's with an easy "find/search" of those exact words. That doesn't include phrases like "rent free" and "complimentary" that basically mean the same thing.
The moral of the story -- be ready to pony up a LOT of free shit if you want your city to get the Super Bowl.
Now, some of the more poignant sections in the RFP, with my comments:
SECTION I. STADIUM A. Stadium Configuration 5. Climate Control. The NFL requires a climate-controlled domed Stadium if the historical average daily temperature over a 10-year period in the Host Community on the week of the Game is below 50 degrees.
SP: Clearly, a clause that was added after New York City got their Super Bowl. Also, clearly San Antonio will never be bidding on a Super Bowl, what with their indoor arenas all hovering in the mid-90's temperature-wise.
SECTION I. STADIUM A. Stadium Configuration 6. Stadium Field Condition. The NFL requires that a natural grass field must be re-sodded for the Super Bowl at no cost to the NFL.
SP: We will just call this the "Reliant Stadium Turf Monster" Rule and leave it at that.
SECTION I. STADIUM A. Stadium Configuration 7. Electrical Output. The NFL requires the Stadium be equipped to provide at least 6,000 kVA electrical loads within the stadium and 5,200 kV A electrical loads on the site premises.
SP: We will just call this the "Superdome Electrical System" Rule and leave it at that.
SECTION I. STADIUM B. Stadium Operations 1. Definition of Key Dates c. Lockdown Period: The period when the Stadium is under security lockdown, anticipated to be ninety-six (96) hours prior to kickoff.
SP: Under security lockdown...except if you act like you know what you're doing, and just stroll into the bowels of the stadium, right New Orleans?
SECTION I. STADIUM B. Stadium Operations 8. Communications Requirements b. Cellular & Wi-Fi- Coverage & Capacity The standards are expected to the ability to provide a carrier and device agnostic infrastructure delivering ubiquitous cellular and Wi-Fi coverage and capacity to support all fans, media, game operations and supporting staff in attendance.
SP: Of all the advancements and improvements, both city-wide and near the stadium, that I am most excited about as a Houstonian is the adherence to this clause. By definition of compliance, the fans in attendance should all be able to use trouble free wi-fi, with no delays or glitches. So rejoice, Houston! By 2016 or so, you should be able to place second half bets and check fantasy scores during Texans home games!
SECTION I. STADIUM I. Signage and Advertising 6. No Commercial Exploitation The Stadium owner must agree that it will not use the Super Bowl Game in its sponsorship sales promotions or otherwise, and will not attempt to commercially exploit the designated Super Bowl, unless it obtains the NFL's advance written approval of such use.
SP: How about this one! Yeah, you can bid on the Super Bowl, you just can't brag about it or exploit it. This is like when Ronald Miller spent $1,000 to "date" Cindy Mancini in Can't Buy Me Love, but she made him walk ten feet behind her. Exact. Same. Thing.
SECTION I. STADIUM W. Stadium Tours The NFL reserves the exclusive right to promote and conduct Stadium tours available to the general public during the Super Bowl Period. The Stadium and/or club should include the details of any similar fan tour programs currently in existence in the Bid response.
SP: "Hey, we are going to live in your house rent free for the week, and we are going to show it off to people like it's ours. Hey, can you let us know the best way to go about showing off your house?"
IV. TRANSPORTATION A. NFL Transportation Requirements 1. Minimum Vehicle Availability The Host Community must be able to provide a minimum of the following types of rental and for-hire vehicles: a. Buses (750) b. Limousines (500) c. Taxis (1,000) d. Rental cars (10,000)
SP: Pretty funny that a city is going to commit to X amount of cabs for a Super Bowl in 2018, when Uber will have swallowed all the cab companies whole.
IV. TRANSPORTATION D. Traffic Management Plan
SP: I just put this one in here so that all of you in Houston could get a good chuckle.
VI. GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES J. Alcohol Ordinance Waiver The NFL requires assistance from the Host Committee in obtaining waivers or exemptions from any laws and/or ordinances that prohibit the serving of alcoholic beverages such that beverages may be served until at least 4:00AM following the Game at the sites of the NFL and Teams post-game parties.
SP: So if you're looking for a place to keep the party going after 2 a.m. during Super Bowl weekend, find out where the two teams are having their post game parties.
XIV. MEDIA CENTER AND ADDITIONAL FACILITIES D. Golf Courses The NFL requires the reservation of three (3) top quality 18-hole golf courses, at the same site or in close proximity to one another, for use by the NFL Foundation Golf Classic, scheduled for the Saturday prior to the Game. Greens and cart fees at these three courses must be waived, or otherwise provided at no cost to the NFL. For deep winter locations, the NFL reserves the right to stage this event in the summer or fall of the regular season preceding the applicable Super Bowl.
The NFL requires the reservation of one (1) top quality 18-hole golf course, for use by the NFL, to host a NFL Network golf event in early March following the Super Bowl.
SP: We are going to need free golf, and some more free golf. Also, we will need free golf. And when the Super Bowl is all done, we will celebrate our mutual success with more free golf!
XIV. MEDIA CENTER AND ADDITIONAL FACILITIES E. Bowling Lanes The NFL requires the reservation of up to two (2) top quality bowling venues at no rental cost for use by NFL Foundation for hosting the NFL Foundation Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic events on the Wednesday and/or Thursday evening before the Game.
SP: Rent-free bowling! I love stuff like this in an RFP. Even better would be if this is what losing a Super Bowl bid came down to... "Yeah, we loved everything about Indy's bid, but the bowling alleys were the difference. The bowling alleys in Minneapolis were just flat out better. Next question..."