NFL Demanded Huge List of Freebies from Minnesota Taxpayers for Super Bowl
Rock and Roll bands are famous for their long lists of crazy contract riders that promoters have to fulfill to get them to play a venue. The NFL took that concept to the extreme with the "riders" that the league heaped on Minneapolis for that city to host the Super Bowl.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported the huge list of pricey and secret Super Bowl contract demands that Minneapolis had to accept to get the big game--and the list is amazing.
The NFL submitted a 153-page contract to the city with its demands carefully detailed. The paper got a copy of the early contract, though it appears it isn't the final version. Still, the list of demands shocks.
The paper says that the contract contains, "Free police escorts for team owners, and 35,000 free parking spaces. Presidential suites at no cost in high-end hotels. Free billboards across the Twin Cities. Guarantees to receive all revenue from the game's ticket sales--even a requirement for NFL-preferred ATMs at the stadium."
There is much more: "The NFL’s requests covered everything from free access to three 'top quality' golf courses during the summer or fall before the Super Bowl, to free curbside parking at a yet-to-be designated NFL House--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 contract also demanded that portable cell phone towers be erected near the players' hotel rooms, and that TVs and ATMs be installed where the league desires they be placed. As to the ATMs, the league also requested that those machines must be linked up with the NFL's own banks and any machines that weren't should be physically removed from the hotels and the stadium.
The NFL also demanded that "top quality bowling venues" in the city be reserved only for NFL officials and players. The league conducts a charity bowling event in the lead up to the Super Bowl.
There were far more demands than those listed above. The fact that the contract was secret leads many to complain over the lack of transparency in the negotiations, especially considering the fact that tax dollars are involved because the contract also has a long lost of requirements on local government.
In the original contract the NFL demanded that government provide police at no cost to the NFL. This demand would obviously mean over time spending and that means tax dollars will be spent.
The NFL also demanded that the Minneapolis police department assist with special security for players at hotels, while traveling on surface roads, and at the airport. More overtime pay would be required for this, of course.
Then there are the demands that the police cut off some legal activities of Minneapolis citizens and business owners within one mile of the stadium.
The "Government Guarantees" section, in addition, also demands that public officials create "clean zones" that cover at least a one-mile radius around the football stadium and a six-block radius from the NFL's headquarters hotel. Creating "clean zones," according to the NFL, typically "restricts certain activities" and "provides for the temporary suspension of new, and possibly existing, permits for such activities."
But with all these burdens on the local government and the tax dollars that must be spent to fulfill the contract were negotiated in secret with no input from the people. The costly impositions add to the sting taxpayers feel upon funding the planned stadium for the Vikings, which will host the Super Bowl, to the tune of a half-billion dollars.
Finally, the Star-Trib reported that Minneapolis rejected at least one demand. The NFL insisted that it control the local airport and have full power over what vendors were allowed to set up shop inside the terminals.
Authorities at the Metropolitan Airports Commission nixed that idea saying that the NFL would have to contract with the vendors already approved by the government and working at the airport.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com