Report: NFL Explored Options to Relocate Super Bowl if AZ Gov. Didn't Veto 'Religious Freedom' Bill
Hours before Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial "religious freedom" bill on Wednesday that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to individuals, including gays and lesbians, based on religious grounds, the NFL started exploring options to potentially move the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona if Brewer signed the law.
That may have forced Brewer's hand, especially after the state's Super Bowl Host Committee and the Arizona Cardinals had already come out against the bill.
Sports Illustrated reported, based on a league source close to the situation, that the NFL "on Wednesday morning began investigating the necessary steps to move next season's Super Bowl from the Phoenix area, if the proposal becomes law."
According to the report, since Tampa Bay finished as the runner-up for the 2015 Super Bowl, it would have most likely been the league's top choice to replace Arizona. Next year's Super Bowl is schedule to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, where the Cardinals play. Arizona hosted the Super Bowl in 2008, and economic impact on the state was estimated at $500 million, and the 2015 Super Bowl is expected to have a greater impact.
Brewer had until Saturday to veto or sign the legislation.
"What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together," the Arizona Cardinals said in a statement. "We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home."
The NFL did not take an overt position, simply saying in a statement that there "policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard." But the league said that it would be closely monitoring the situation if the bill became law, which many took to mean that the league would consider moving the Super Bowl if the law was enacted. The NFL did not respond and simply repeated the league's generic statement when Breitbart Sports asked if the league contacted Brewer's office about the situation.
In 1993, the NFL moved the Super Bowl from Arizona to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena after Arizona refused to acknowledge the Martin Luther King holiday. Tempe, Arizona was awarded the 1996 Super Bowl after the state adopted the Martin Luther King Holiday.
"No one wants to do this, but if the league's hand is forced, it would have to begin preparing for that process,'' the source close to the situation told Sports Illustrated. "If this doesn't get vetoed, it has to know, what has to be done next? That discussion has begun.
"Two weeks ago no one would have been discussing who finished second in the 2014 Super Bowl bid process. So that's what changed. The NFL has to know the possibility, however remote, that it would have to move the game and begin preparations to do that. It would be imprudent not to begin that process.''
Had Brewer signed the bill into law, "the final decision to move the Super Bowl would fall to NFL team owners, and 24 of the 32 ownership groups would have to vote in favor of such an option."
That is all moot now, since Brewer, after being pressured by other business interests, vetoed SB 1062 on Wednesday.