SBD/April 25, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Documents Reveal Richardson Asking Goodell For "Major Favor" In Moving '12 Season Opener

Goodell (l) moved the opener to Wednesday night at Richardson's request
Newly released transcripts of closed-door negotiating sessions between the city of Charlotte and the NFL Panthers reveal rare comments by team Owner JERRY RICHARDSON before city leaders in the team’s pursuit for public funding for renovations at Bank of America Stadium, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. During “the first meeting” in January, Richardson “reminded city leaders he had not only provided Bank of America Stadium for the finale of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he also assured it a larger TV audience” before rain forced it to be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena. Richardson detailed how he “called in a major favor” from Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, as PRESIDENT OBAMA’s acceptance speech at the stadium was scheduled for the first Thursday in September, the same night the first nationally televised NFL game of the regular season would air on NBC. But the NFL moved the game to a day earlier and Richardson talked about that move to council members “in a brief monologue that, no doubt, had the intended effect.” Among his remarks to the council members:

* “I think it is worthwhile for you and I to reflect just a little bit on an example of us trying to go to bat for the city. You know I went to bat for you in the DNC, I think, as strongly as possible. And I think you will agree, too.”

* Convention organizers requested kickoff of the Cowboys-Giants Thursday night game be moved to 7:00pm ET from 8:30pm. Richardson said, “I have a good relationship with (the other) NFL owners, but we did a calculation and that would have cost every owner about $3 million to do that, including me. I try to get votes, that is one of the things that is real important in the NFL and that just wasn’t going to happen. So I called the (NFL) commissioner and said, ‘Just listen to me until I finish. Can you visualize Mount Everest and just moving it 100 feet to your left?’”

* Goodell laughed, and Richardson recounted: “I said, ‘Do you have that visual?’ And he said, ‘I do and that is very difficult.’ And I said, ‘My request is very difficult.’ He said, ‘What is your request?’ I said, ‘I would like for you to move the opening game of the season (to Wednesday).’ I thought he was going to have a heart attack when I asked him the question. Then he said, ‘Well, you know, we’ll have to take this to the membership.’ And I said, ‘That is my second point. I would like for us not to take it to the membership ... I was chairman of the committee that selected you as commissioner and I’m expecting you to take some leadership.'”

* Richardson said that the two continued their conversation the next morning, and Goodell said that the "only time the NFL had made a similar move was during World War II," and he called Richardson’s request a "big one." Richardson’s response: “Well, we’ve got a big problem down in Charlotte.” Goodell "reminded Richardson that 31 owners had to be considered, too." Richardson: “I said, ‘No, you don’t, don’t ask them, go ahead and make a decision.’ As you know, he did and (the Wednesday night game) is what happened” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/24).
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