SBD/February 26, 2014/Sports in Society

Support Growing For NFL To Move Super Bowl If Arizona Passes Right To Refuse Service

University of Phoenix Stadium last hosted the Super Bowl in '07
The NFL has "stopped short of saying" Super Bowl XLIX "could be moved" from University of Phoenix Stadium if Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer allows passage of a bill permitting businesses to deny service to LGBT individuals, according to Brady, Corbett & Pelissero of USA TODAY. The league has "moved a Super Bowl out of Arizona before, and the implicit threat floats invisibly but menacingly in the desert sky." In '90, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue "threatened to move the 1993 Super Bowl out of Arizona if the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day." Voters turned "thumbs down on the holiday and the NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena." Arizona subsequently "voted to recognize MLK Day in 1992 and the 1996 Super Bowl was played in Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium." Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said that the NFL "should consider moving the game if the bill becomes law." With the game just 11 months out, Brady, Corbett & Pelissero wonder if that is "enough time to make a switch" if the NFL chooses to do so. Former NFL exec Jim Steeg, who oversaw the Super Bowl for 26 years, "thinks it is." Steeg: "If we want, anything can be done, given what it is." You Can Play Exec Dir Wade Davis said it will take "a groundswell of corporations and local businesses," not just the NFL and the promise of a Super Bowl, "to push Jan Brewer to make sure that legislation is not enacted" (USA TODAY, 2/26).

LOST IN THE DESERT:'s Kevin Seifert wrote, "I can't envision a scenario in which the NFL plays the Super Bowl in Arizona if Brewer allows the bill to become law." The NFL "awarded this game to Arizona long before SB 1062 became an issue." But part of the Super Bowl bid "for any site is to remain in compliance with all NFL rules and policies." Seifert: "The guess here, based on the NFL's statement, is that Arizona would run afoul of that requirement under SB 1062." The logistics of moving a Super Bowl less than a year out "would be a nightmare for NFL employees, but it wouldn't compare to the fallout of playing in a state that provides an authorized platform for discrimination" (, 2/25). A DENVER POST editorial is written under the header, "Use Your Power In Arizona, NFL." If Brewer "does not veto this measure" the NFL "should take its 2015 Super Bowl away" (DENVER POST, 2/26).
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