SBJ/20090126/Super Bowl XLIII

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  • 42 Years of Super Bowl Sundays

    XLII - The game is shown in 223 countries and territories in 30 languages. With a worldwide audience of 148.3 million viewers, it’s the most-watched TV program ever.

    XLI - The world feed of the Super Bowl is provided in high definition for the first time.

    XL - ABC, part of the Super Bowl rotation since 1985, airs its seventh and final title game. The Disney-owned network is shifting its NFL coverage to ESPN with its new TV deal.

    XXXIX- Jim Steeg produces his last Super Bowl for the NFL after more than a quarter-century of such work for the league. Frank Supovitz succeeds him.

    XXXVIII - The FCC issues a $550,000 fine against CBS television stations for broadcasting Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show. The fine is thrown out on appeal in July 2008.

    XXXVII- Reebok introduces its ad campaign featuring Terry Tate, office linebacker, running through a workplace tackling slack employees.

    XXXVI - The Super Bowl is played in February for the first time, a result of the regular season being suspended in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    XXXV- The NFL and NFL Films introduce the first fully produced world feed of the Super Bowl.

    XXXIV - 17 dot-com companies buy Super Bowl ads, including, and Nielsen/NetRatings reports that the buyers see an average 16% increase in unique visitors to their sites from Super Bowl Sunday to the next day.

    XXXIII - A Budweiser ad featuring two Dalmatians separated at birth starts a 10-year run for Anheuser-Busch atop USA Today’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter.

    XXXII- NBC’s game broadcast is the network’s last NFL broadcast until a new deal is signed prior to the 2006 season. “We want to thank you,” Dick Enberg tells viewers as the network signs off.

    XXXI - The first Super Bowl broadcast by Fox is seen in 42 million homes.

    XXX - At the conclusion of the halftime show, singer Diana Ross departs from the field in a helicopter.

    XXIX- The game broadcast by ABC sees ad rates of more than $1 million per 30-second commercial for the first time.

    XXVIII - NBC becomes the first network to air consecutive Super Bowls outright.

    XXVII- The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., hosts the Super Bowl for a fifth time. The game has not returned to the Los Angeles area since.

    XXVI - The league’s NFL Experience interactive area debuts.

    XXV - ABC’s coverage of the halftime show featuring New Kids on the Block is pre-empted for coverage of the Gulf War. The network airs the show after the game instead.

    XXIV - San Francisco 55, Denver 10 … and the only Super Bowl since Super Bowl V to earn less than a 40.0 household rating.

    XXIII - Anheuser-Busch airs six 30-second spots to promote the first Bud Bowl.

    XXII - Doug Williams becomes the first African-American to play quarterback in the Super Bowl.

    XXI - The game is watched live or on tape in 55 foreign countries, and NBC Radio’s broadcast is heard by a then-record 10.1 million people.

    XX - NBC’s telecast replaces the final episode of M*A*S*H as the most-viewed program in history, with a worldwide audience of 127 million viewers.

    XIX - President Reagan takes his second oath of office before tossing the coin via satellite from the White House.

    XVIII - The Super Bowl ad game changes forever. With ‘1984,’ Apple introduces the Macintosh and gives viewers a spot later named commercial of the decade for the 1980s by Advertising Age.

    XVII - The Super Bowl caps a postseason that saw the NFL adopt a format of 16 teams because of the players’ strike that reduced the regular season to nine games. Eight teams from each conference are seeded 1-8 based on their regular-season records.

    XVI - The first Super Bowl to be played in the North (Pontiac, Mich.) also becomes the highest-rated game, with a 49.1 rating.

    XV- The Oakland Raiders become the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl.

    XIV - “Hey, kid.” With those words, Pittsburgh lineman “Mean” Joe Greene  tosses his jersey to a wide-eyed fan, and Coca-Cola  makes its “Coke Adds Life” pitch to viewers.

    XIII - The Super Bowl ends the first regular season that had 16 games, up from 14, and a postseason that expanded from two rounds to three for each conference.

    XII - The first game held indoors (Louisiana Superdome) also becomes the first Super Bowl to draw more than 100 million viewers on TV.

    XI - The Disney-produced halftime show features the cast members of the New Mickey Mouse Club and is the first Super Bowl halftime show to include crowd participation, with fans waving colored placards on cue.

    X - The Dallas Cowboys become the first wild-card team to play in the Super Bowl.

    IX - The game originally scheduled for the new Louisiana Superdome is played at a rainy Tulane Stadium due to unfinished construction at the new facility.

    VIII - The Super Bowl is played for the first time in a stadium that is not home to an NFL or AFL team (Rice Stadium in Houston).

    VII - The Miami Dolphins complete a perfect, 17-0 season.

    VI - Although Tulane Stadium is sold out for the game, CBS’s live telecast is not shown in the New Orleans area because of NFL blackout rules in place at the time. This is the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the TV market in which the game was played.

    V - The Super Bowl Trophy is renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    IV - Four-year television contracts are awarded to CBS (NFC games) and NBC (AFC games), except for Monday night games, with the two dividing rights to the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl games.

    III - The term “Super Bowl” is recognized by the NFL for the first time, after the first two championship games were known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coined the term.

    II - The game earns the first $3 million gate in pro football history.

    I- The league championship game airs on both CBS and NBC to a combined 22.5 million homes.

  • Companies trim spending on Super Bowl events

    The Super Bowl long has been a prime chance for corporate activation, and so it is again this year. Most companies setting their sites on Tampa, however, are planning far less than in years past.

    Not surprisingly, the ongoing recession is the most-cited reason for a change of plans, but at least one marketer said Tampa’s game was facing a challenge even before the economy soured.

    “We knew in March that it was going to be a light year, having nothing to do with the economy,” said Brian Gordon, president of Miami Marketing Group, which helps organize events around the Super Bowl.

    Gordon said his company ordinarily operates four to six Super Bowl-oriented events annually, if not more, including for clients Victoria’s Secret and Pontiac. This year, he’s working on two, and he says the host site has something to do with that. He notes not only the relative lack of luxury accommodations for Tampa proper — visitors will stay in St. Petersburg or even Orlando  — but also how the city compares with recent and future Super Bowl hosts.

    “Tampa is … sandwiched in between two very good Super Bowls, from a celebrity and entertainment standpoint: Phoenix and its proximity to L.A., and 2010 in Miami,” Gordon said. “We felt there [were] going to be a lot of people on the entertainment side that would just want to skip it.”

    GM won’t advertise during the Super Bowl
    broadcast, but will maintain the sponsorship
    of the MVP award through its Cadillac brand.

    For many league-level sponsors, the task is finding ways to reduce costs while still being active at the NFL’s premier event. Among them, General Motors, recently the benefactor of billions of federal bailout dollars, and Circuit City, which in November filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, both plan to use the Super Bowl again this year as a targeted way to leverage their brands.

    In the case of GM, the company two years ago had more than 400 courtesy vehicles on the ground to shuttle VIPs across town during Super Bowl XL in its home city of Detroit. This year, that number has been scaled back to several dozen, according to GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato.

    In addition, the company in the past has held national dealer meetings at the Super Bowl site. Those meetings, which already had been scaled back in recent years, are “pretty much nonexistent this year,” Cusinato said.

    “All part of cost reductions,” she added.

    The company is, however, maintaining with its Cadillac brand its years-long sponsorship of the Super Bowl MVP award. That sponsorship is part of GM’s larger partnership with the NFL. “We still see this great opportunity to showcase our products to a large TV viewing audience,” Cusinato said. “Our affiliation with the NFL and with the Super Bowl still provides us with a high-profile partnership.”

    Similarly, Circuit City  is title sponsoring the Celebrity Flag Football Challenge on Saturday as an extension of its relationship with the NFL. Lisa Levine, a spokesperson for SPP Sports, which is organizing the event, said the outing is still seen as a strong promotion despite the company’s recent Chapter 11 filing. “For everybody in a hosting city,” she said, “it enables them to really appreciate what Super Bowl has to offer, since most of your average consumers will never get to the game.”

    Pepsi, in its seventh season as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL, plans to host a handful of events leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, including a pair of concerts on Thursday and Friday nights featuring musicians such as Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias and Fall Out Boy. “The NFL is a big hit with our consumers” said Pepsi spokeswoman Michelle Naughton. “We find it invaluable to be able to use league marks for our football-themed marketing efforts.”

    ESPN The Magazine will
    host its biggest event of the
    year (top) in support of its
    “Next” effort, while DirecTV
    will return as sponsor
    of the Beach Bowl.

    NFL media partners ESPN and DirecTV will be active players around this year’s big game, as well, hosting events in Tampa similar to what they’ve done at recent Super Bowls. Both value the on-site presence as a way to leverage their brands, but they also see it as a way to thank their partners, according to company executives.

    ESPN The Magazine, in support of its “Next” effort, will host its biggest event of the year in Tampa: a VIP party for corporate sponsors and dignitaries on Friday, and an all-day free tailgate for fans on Saturday.

    “The Super Bowl is the great secular national holiday,” said Gary Hoenig, ESPN Publishing general manager and editorial director. “It is essentially the biggest sports convention you can possibly conceive of. If you’re trying to push the idea that you are about the future of sports, and if you have this big event celebrating the athlete you pick as the ‘Next’ athlete, there’s no other place to do it.”

    The “Next” event garners more sponsorship, both in quantity and dollars generated, than any other event the magazine puts on throughout the year. ESPN this season locked in seven sponsors for the two-day gala, up from five for the event in Arizona last year. All told, according to a company spokesperson, the venture is a money-making effort, with several million dollars in revenue being generated.

    Ford, as part of a greater relationship with ESPN, will leverage its F-150 truck as the presenting sponsor for the “Next” soirée. “This year, more than any other year, we’re not going over the top,” said Eric Peterson, Ford Truck communications manager. “But being at the Super Bowl, and being part of a partnership that gets us there, makes a ton of sense.”

    The third annual DirecTV Beach Bowl, with live coverage on DirecTV on Saturday, offers the satellite provider the opportunity to reinforce its Sunday Ticket partnership with the NFL. “The Super Bowl is the biggest event of the year,” said Jon Gieselman, DirecTV senior vice president of advertising and public relations. “You’ve got to be a part of it.”

    But as companies continue to scrutinize their finances, sports inevitably will see the adverse effects of a thriftier corporate America, even for the Super Bowl.

    “I think the game is going to change, not just with the Super Bowl but with all events,” said Miami Marketing Group’s Gordon. “If you can’t make people feel like their business objectives are going to be met, then the money isn’t going to be there just for hospitality or having their brand associated with a really cool party.”

    Brian Helfrich is a staff writer for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.

  • Concessionaires prepare for a daylong food fest

    The Super Bowl is unlike any other live event. Nobody knows that better than the concessionaires faced with feeding more than 70,000 people lunch, dinner, and perhaps even a late breakfast for what has become an all-day buffet for spectators attending the game.

    One of the first things Steve Trotter did after settling into his job as Centerplate’s general manager at University of Phoenix Stadium was make hotel reservations for 45 company chefs and front-house managers supporting its food operation at the 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

    Trotter, a veteran of four Super Bowls, knew he had to make those calls, as well as book rental cars for those Centerplate officials, 2 1/2 years before the Super Bowl — a time that was even months before the stadium opened for the Arizona Cardinals.

    Indeed, that’s the enormous stretch of lead time it now takes for food providers to get ready for the Super Bowl, said Joe Glynn, Aramark’s director of operations at Reliant Stadium in Houston, site of the 2004 contest.

    “I was in on the early stages of planning [the facility], and it was geared toward the Super Bowl: what it would take with points-of-sale and the appropriate amount of stock,” Glynn said. “[The Super Bowl] is basically 2 1/2 games, with all the commercial breaks. People come early, and it’s a very long event.”

    Stadiums stock 2 1/2 to three times as
    much as they would for a regular game.

    The food per caps reflect the daylong food fest, where gates open four hours before kickoff compared with two hours before a regular-season game. This year, it’s Levy Restaurants, the concessions firm at Raymond James Stadium, that will be serving Super Bowl patrons.

    Levy has operated stadium concessions for three Super Bowls previously, most recently in 2006, at Ford Field in Detroit. In Tampa, the concessionaire plans to deploy 24 executive chefs from around the country in addition to 150 line cooks, prep cooks and other kitchen staff. Approximately 2,900 nonprofit and part-time workers will be employed for the effort, company officials said.

    For the 2007 game, Boston Culinary Group reported a $78.50 per cap despite a steady rain at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Revenue from suites, club seats and concessions exceeded $4.4 million, while game-day catering added another $1.2 million.

    By comparison, the per cap for a regular-season NFL game can range from the high teens to $20, said Sal Ferrulo, Boston Culinary Group’s senior vice president. “That number gives you an idea of the magnitude of the Super Bowl,” Ferrulo said.

    The sales totals also reflect variable pricing, where beers and hot dogs are priced a few dollars more than during the regular season — as approved by the NFL — and spending is heavier in the premium areas, where the corporate crowd is entertaining its best customers.

    For concessionaires, the preparations for Super Bowl Sunday have especially increased in scope since the 2001 terrorist attacks, which changed the rules forever for how the NFL gears up for the game.

    All food service workers face a background
    check before they are allowed on site.

    For example, food service firms have to comply with background checks for all their Super Bowl workers, a number that ballooned from 1,200 part-timers for a Dolphins game to 3,500 for the NFL title game, Ferrulo said. Individuals must submit their applications by the first week of January, and there are always some who do not clear those checks and are turned down for temporary employment, he said.

    As for having enough product on hand, the events of 9/11 ushered in a new policy for ordering supplies.

    “You’re forecasting for 2 1/2 to three times a normal sold-out game, and if it’s not on the property [by kickoff], you’re not getting it,” Glynn said. “Before, you may have been able to run a beer truck in the gates during the game, and people looked the other way. Now, with FBI checks and lockdowns … everything has to be ordered weeks, months in advance. You can’t call your local Bud distributor and have him send somebody over.”

    The pressure to perform a flawless food operation increases in the premium areas. To make it easier for those corporate clients and the food providers, concessionaires now routinely provide three-course meals for Super Bowl skybox patrons, compared with a la carte options during the regular season.

    “Every suite has the company’s CEO and No. 1 client, so we took the approach that ‘Here’s three great packages, all-inclusive,’ so they don’t have to worry about re-ordering,” Glynn said.

    The easiest way to make sure everybody in the stadium is happy and well-fed is to keep it simple, provide enough points of sale with permanent stands and portable units, and “flood the bowl with hawkers and vendors” so fans don’t miss a play, Glynn said.

    “We don’t change who we are as a company,” he said. “Nobody’s leaving early to beat traffic. There’s no falloff: 72,500 have tickets, and 72,500 are coming. People spend. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so their thinking is ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves and splurge.’ ”

  • Getting in the game for the game

    The Super Bowl comes to Tampa this week, returning to the Florida city for the first time since 2001. Over the past 10 years, nine cities have hosted the event, and Dallas and Indianapolis are in line to join that list. Where the Super Bowl goes in the years after that, and how the league comes to those decisions, is as difficult a question for teams and their cities to answer as it’s ever been.

    The chairman of South Florida’s Super Bowl committee is all Miami: born there, raised there and educated there. Before rising into rarefied air as a real estate developer with deep political ties, he worked as a city of Miami cop. His first Super Bowl was the one he sneaked into at the Orange Bowl as a rough-and-tumble kid.

    Getting ready for the Super Bowl involves work
    at and around Raymond James Stadium,
    on Tampa’s streets, and in its hotels.

    You never will convince Rodney Barreto that there is a better place to hold the Super Bowl than Miami, any more than you could convince Joe DiMaggio that there was a prettier girl than Marilyn Monroe.

    So when Barreto headed to Detroit three years ago for a glimpse of what another Super Bowl host was up to, he came away reminded of the complex dynamics that go into the bestowal of America’s biggest game.

    Super Bowl beauty is in the eye of the bestower.

    “No disrespect to my friends in Detroit, but, you know, I walked through the snow to go to their community event,” Barreto said, spitting the word “snow” as if it were an expletive. “It was terrible, OK? It was terrible. The game was great. It was controlled-climate; domed stadium. But it’s not South Beach and it’s not Joe’s Stone Crab, you know what I mean?”

    Sure you do. Everyone does — particularly everyone stuck in an Atlanta hotel that ran out of food during the ice storm of 2000, or waiting in line to get off a Jacksonville cruise ship in 2005, or trying unsuccessfully to convince a client to bring the CEO to Detroit three Februarys ago.

    How the game long associated with South Florida’s beaches, Bourbon Street and the wonders of sunny Southern California has ended up in Detroit — twice, no less — and is bound for ice-threatened Dallas in 2011 and Indianapolis in 2012 is testimony to the incalculable calculus that goes into the selection of the host.

    The last eight Super Bowls have been played in eight different cities. Tampa, host of this week’s game, is the first to land the game twice since the turn of the millennium. That is striking, considering that 25 of the 33 played before that were held in Southern California (9), South Florida (8) or New Orleans (8), and that the league never went more than two years without returning to one of those three familiar destinations.

    Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, says that today’s Super Bowl “can be accommodated, either minimally, or ideally … everywhere where the NFL currently plays games.”

    Detroit’s cold weather makes the city a
    challenging place for Super Bowl hospitality.

    It is the “minimally” that worries people like Andrew Judelson, chief marketing officer at Sports Illustrated, which typically entertains heavily at the Super Bowl but will pull back this year, citing the sinking economy.

    “Given its scale and importance in the sports business landscape, the Super Bowl is almost what I’ll call market-proof,” said Judelson, who before joining SI headed corporate marketing at Sprint and then the NHL. “It can go to Detroit. But, with all due respect to Detroit, Detroit from an entertainment standpoint is not South Beach. You are going to have to recalibrate your entertainment.

    “All markets are not created equal.”

    That fact, crossed with the emergence of amped-up facilities across the NFL and the fade of buildings in some of the gold-standard Super Bowl cities, makes this an interesting time for America’s largest sporting spectacle.

    Los Angeles and San Diego, two popular host cities, both are off the list of qualifying venues. The former won’t get the game because there’s no longer an NFL team there; the latter is out because the league considers the stadium to be subpar.

    New Orleans is thought to be a strong contender to return as a regular host, but not until the state of Louisiana works out a lease extension with the Saints. There’s no telling what will happen beyond that for a stadium with some of the same shortcomings as San Diego’s.

    At the same time, several cities are running hard to enter a “rotation” that, for the record, the NFL says has never existed.

    South Florida, which will host the game next year, has its spot locked. Weather always has favored it — and still does, despite its surprising distinction of having hosted the only rain-drenched Super Bowl two years ago. South Beach’s emergence as a world-class destination gave it the second side of the triangle. A $250 million renovation that added 360,000 square feet of entertaining space to Dolphin Stadium completed it.

    Tampa Bay, which is hosting its fourth Super Bowl and its second at Raymond James Stadium, has proved it has the horsepower of a repeat host, albeit with longer breaks between its shots.

    Dolphin Stadium touts the vast space
    around the venue, which is ideal for
    support attractions and crowd flow.

    Dallas has 2011 and Indianapolis 2012. Both cold-weather cities got the game as payback for funding new, climate-controlled stadiums.

    Three sites that have hosted multiple Super Bowls — Arizona, New Orleans and South Florida — are expected to bid on 2013.

    Where the Super Bowl goes after that will go a long way toward clarifying things for cities that have made large investments predicated on the idea of being more than a one-and-done host.

    “I’ve said many times now that we are in the Super Bowl business,” said Michael Kennedy, the chairman of last year’s Arizona host committee. “It’s pretty clear to me that Miami is in the Super Bowl business. And I think Mr. [Jerry] Jones is going to try to put Dallas in the Super Bowl business as well.

    “A big part of being in the business is deciding how frequently you want to be in the business: how often you need it and how often you can handle it. Unfortunately, you don’t control that. You don’t dial in and say, ‘We want to be a one-in-five-years city’ or one-in-three-years city. You keep throwing your hat in the ring, and you hope the owners choose to keep coming back.”

    Like South Florida, which a few years ago proposed that the NFL lock into playing there every third year, Arizona would like to see a rotation similar to those of earlier days, so long as it is included. So too, it seems, would North Texas, which is still two years away from hosting its first Super Bowl.

    “The NFL has changed over the last 20 or 25 years,” said Bill Lively, who earlier this month began full-time work as president and CEO of the North Texas host committee. “The nation has changed. Certain cities have changed. And certainly stadiums have changed. The warm-weather cycle that favored Florida and New Orleans and California for so long is still a relevant cycle, but the NFL is looking beyond that for lots of reasons.

    “We see ourselves here in a historic posture … to plan and produce our first-ever Super Bowl, but to do it in a way that is legacy-oriented. We’d like to be in this cycle and do this again every three to five years, whatever the cycle is.”

    What it takes

    The baseline requirements for hosting a Super Bowl, the bid specs, are straight-forward. The league says it will consider NFL cities that have:

    A 70,000-seat stadium, or one that can be suitably expanded to that size for the game;

    About 19,000 hotel rooms that will provide three- and four-night minimums, totaling about 90,000 room nights;

    An average daily temperature of above 50 degrees on the week of the game, or a climate-controlled stadium; and,

    Hotel rooms are prime real
    estate during the event, and
    the demand quickly drives
    up rates.
    When a city hosts a Super Bowl, hotel room rates rise signifi cantly in that market. In turn, recent Super Bowl host cities have seen their total hotel room revenue increase by a double-digit percentage during the month of the game compared with the year-earlier month.
    click here

    Letters of support from all the government entities that will be asked to provide services such as police, fire and ambulances at no cost to the NFL.

    There are more than 200 pages to the document that outline further specifics, but most of them can be negotiated up or down, depending on the abilities of the market. Many cover minutiae, such as the breakdown of workout equipment to be provided at the practice facilities for the two teams.

    “The [specs] have not changed dramatically in the last three years … in terms of what is required in order to host the Super Bowl, at minimum,” Supovitz said. “What has changed dramatically is the amount of enhancements that a stadium, team or community will add to the minimum-bid specifications in order to present a competitive proposal.”

    Miami knew that its competition for the 2010 game, Houston and Atlanta, could bring stout financials to the table. It figured that in order to land the game so soon after hosting it in 2007, it had to distinguish itself. So it got creative, offering a series of perks that included the use of a yacht for each of the 32 owners.

    For this year’s game, Tampa offered all 32 teams free golf.

    North Texas included in its bid $1 million paid directly to the league to cover game-day costs, and that’s after running laps around all previous hosts in terms of the number of seats and suites it will provide. Total capacity for the game will exceed 100,000, and the NFL will get the use of 150 suites.

    “Everyone is out there finding ways to shoulder more and more expenses for the NFL,” said Michael Kelly, the only person to have headed a Super Bowl host committee in three different cities: Tampa (2001), Jacksonville (2005) and Miami (2007). “Paying for more tents at NFL Experience, for more hotels, for more travel for NFL staff. Everyone is out there trying to find another piece that would be attractive to the NFL.”

    The South Florida committee expects to put on next year’s game with a budget of $12 million to $15 million. That would put it above the $11 million that Tampa’s committee will spend this year, but beneath the $17 million that Arizona spent last year, or the $25 million-plus that Dallas wants to raise for 2011.

    In 1995, South Florida hosted the game on less than $5 million.

    “And we fulfilled all our obligations, and everybody was happy,” Barreto said. “Everything has gone up. At some point, there’s going to be a breaking point in all this. At what point is that? I don’t know. Somehow, we haven’t seen it yet.”

    The process is designed to encourage competition.

    Each November, the NFL sends out its bid book, the 200-some pages of specifications that detail what is expected from cities that want to host the game. Draft bids are due in April. The league’s event division reviews those, conducts an initial comparison and then reports back to each bidder to go over shortcomings and answer questions.

    While the league will tell a city when its plan comes up short compared to others, it won’t reveal the specifics of other proposals.

    “The NFL is careful about that,” Kelly said. “They don’t say, ‘You have to do this and you’ll get it.’ They just tell you, ‘This is what somebody has done in the past,’ or that maybe in their minds you’re a little short on something. And then they leave it to you to compete. Cities know that if they don’t do something, somebody else will.”

    In the end, it’s about landing the votes of NFL owners. The analysis may be objective. The voting is not.

    When Houston bid against Miami and Atlanta for the 2010 game, Texans owner Bob McNair advised his constituents to structure their bid so that it would be the most lucrative of the three.

    Houston’s was the first bid eliminated.

    Texans owner Bob McNair
    would like to see the NFL
    revamp its selection process
    so that fewer cities would
    be sent away wondering
    where they went wrong.

    “You submit a bid that’s better than anybody else’s, and you still don’t get it,” McNair said earlier this month, still clearly frustrated by the experience. “Houston should be there [as a repeat host], but I think when it comes time to vote, there are other things that enter into it.”

    In 2004, then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue named McNair to chair a committee to study the economics of the game and make recommendations in preparation for the coming round of labor negotiations. Not surprisingly, the debate over the ways in which teams share revenue became contentious. McNair ruffled feathers. When Houston came looking for a second Super Bowl, he had few allies at the table.

    “I think that that did play into it,” McNair said. “There were some people that probably resented my forthrightness. They didn’t agree with me and they sort of viewed that in a negative way when it came time to vote on the Super Bowl. I don’t think that’s the way we should conduct our business, but I think that’s probably what happened.”

    That premise doesn’t surprise anyone who has made a run at the game.

    “I’m a very political animal, so I understand,” said Barreto, who counts a lobbying firm among his holdings. “Over the years, I believe the NFL has played politics with its own owners. They reward the ones who are good with the Super Bowl. They reward owners who are able to parlay their political strength to build a new stadium. They reward owners who have been good soldiers. … And then, I gotta believe there’s also their own in-fighting. There are going to be some who don’t want to see another guy benefit all the time.

    “But put that all aside. At the end of the day, you gotta look at where people want to go.”

    More than a game

    While the NFL’s events staff analyzes all aspects of the bids — from average temperatures to line-item tallies — the comparison it delivers to the owners typically looks most closely at the financials of the proposal, the quantity and quality of the hotels and other venues that will be used throughout the week, the geographic layout of those venues, and the transportation plans that will link those sites.

    In recent years, the owners have proved that they’re willing to take chances on locales that may not be able to check off all the boxes. Jacksonville memorably created a hotel district from nothing by bringing in cruise ships, a solution that ended up earning points for creativity, but enough complaints to make it unlikely that the league will ever bend its lodging requirements quite so liberally again.

    This year’s host city, Tampa, offers lovely weather, a picturesque bayfront, Gulf sunsets, great golf and one of the better stadiums in the league. But its shortcoming is that same worrisome matter of lodging: not enough room at the inns, or at least the premier ones that are within 20 minutes of the stadium.

    The league has reserved about 20,000 hotel rooms for its executives and teams and their guests this year. The plurality of those, about 8,700, are in the Orlando area. About 7,800 are on the Tampa side of the bay. About 3,600 are on the St. Petersburg/Clearwater side.

    While a visit to Disney will appeal to guests of the league who choose to bring their families, some wonder whether those visitors will even feel like they’re at the Super Bowl and whether that divide will rob the event of its massive scope.

    “You could be in Orlando and not even feel like the Super Bowl is going on,” Judelson said. “That’s an issue when you want to create event bigness.”

    The stadium is a far larger piece of the equation for the NFL than it was a decade ago. This year, for the third consecutive year, the league will be putting its NFL Experience interactive showcase on ground adjacent to the stadium. It then will attach its tailgate party to it on game day, and it likes lots of space around both of them to make it easier to line people up to clear security on the way in.

    The quality and amenities of stadiums such
    as Tampa drive hospitality decisions.

    Because NFL Experience alone takes up about 1 million square feet, a stadium in the middle of a large, open footprint, such as those in South Florida and Arizona, generally works best.

    “There’s much more of an organic site plan for Super Bowl than there has been in the past,” Supovitz said. “The stadium has become much more of an epicenter of activity and interest.”

    But even that can be adapted when the owners vote to take the game to a place that can’t accommodate it all in one spot.

    In cold weather cities — such as Detroit and, in the near future, Dallas and Indianapolis — NFL Experience moves inside, into the local convention center. That will be within walking distance of the stadium in Indianapolis, but the stadium and convention center will be in entirely different municipalities when the game goes to North Texas.

    What the league says it can’t work around is the condition, and level of amenities, of the stadium.

    “If you’re going to pay certain levels, you want proper leg room, you want a cup holder, you want luxury access, you want to be able to get in in a reasonable way, you want a video board that you can see and enjoy,” Kelly said. “And from a logistical standpoint, there are some that you just flat out can’t do it right and meet security standards. You just can’t create that much more extra queuing space to get people into the darned place.

    “The realities of venues like Miami and Dallas and Phoenix: they’re just ideally suited to an event of that magnitude.”

    For all of that, many who use the game as a means to entertain clients still see the locale as the priority and the stadium as an incidental piece of the equation.

    When Judelson ran corporate marketing for Sprint, the staff there used to reach the end of a week of revelry and joke, “Oh, there’s a game?” Since then, he has headed corporate marketing for the NHL and served as chief marketing officer for Sports Illustrated.

    “I’m a huge football fan,” Judelson said, “but the game is an afterthought.”

    Judelson empathizes with the league’s need to place the game in virgin cities to reward them for funding new stadiums. When he was at the NHL, the league often awarded its All-Star Game to Sun Belt cities that had built new arenas to attract teams but still needed all the help they could get to foster interest in the game.

    Still, in the role he plays today as a corporate host, he’d prefer that the league stick to three tried-and-true markets: South Florida, New Orleans and San Diego.

    “The [stadium quality] has an immaterial impact on our hospitality decisions,” Judelson said. “What we want most is a marketplace that knows how to put on a major event.”

    Changes for the process?

    The man who made Super Bowl magic happen in three different corners of Florida is relieved that he isn’t the one on the hook for the spiraling cost of the games still to come.

    Michael Kelly says he is sure all the cities will make good on their promises, but he suspects the pressures to do so in an economy that has gone the way of a steeply descending punt will be immense.

    “The NFL is cutting staff in New York, and at the same time, it’s making enhanced requests of the cities,” said Kelly, who parlayed his big-event success into a more stable job overseeing football for the ACC. “So when does that breaking point come? You can’t keep getting more from the [host] city because the city has nowhere to go to get that money either.

    “How much can you ask? It’s becoming harder and harder to get the public resources. There are so many pressures on local governments. They want to be supportive, but there are so many other responsibilities that have to be met when you’re looking at shrinking tax bases. Almost every city you look at is having a major budget crisis. They’re going to need to pave that road or fix that hospital before they worry about paying for a Super Bowl.”

    Tampa plays host to the Super Bowl for a fourth time this week. In doing so, it becomes the first city to host the game twice this decade. With first-time hosts Dallas and Indianapolis ahead, the list of cities that can call themselves a Super Bowl host will continue to get longer — with each market offering unique characteristics. Following are details for select past hosts as well as for the ultimate wild card: New York .
    Click here

    Tampa Bay will be the first of the Super Bowl hosts to feel that pinch.

    “Companies in the community have been very supportive, which has put us in a position where we will be OK,” said Reid Sigmon, executive director of the Tampa Bay host committee. “But it is absolutely different from what we all thought of when we started.”

    The timing of the economic tumble worked in Tampa Bay’s favor. The host committee there sold most of its sponsorships before the credit-market crash. Still, by the time November rolled around, Sigmon realized it was unlikely that the group could meet its goal of raising $8 million from sponsorships and hospitality packages. Its goal was to have sold out by then.

    The committee reconsidered its expenses and decided it could put on a successful event for $7 million, plus about $4 million from government sources. Sigmon said he expects to hit that number, though it will be close.

    At least he has warm weather working in his favor.

    “If it were Indianapolis or Detroit [this year] or even next year, people aren’t going,” said Arizona committee chairman Kennedy. “No slam on Detroit or Indy, but [the weather] is too handy an excuse in this economy. But the other side of it is, you have to have that incentive [to build stadiums]. You have to be able to send the Indianapolis ownership back to town saying ‘Here’s the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow for your public investment.’”

    Kennedy said he has no quarrel with that approach but thinks it should be limited to every fifth year. He’d like to see Arizona included in a rotation — there’s that word again — for the other four slots.

    While they differ on how frequently they’d like their turn to come up, most of the prospective hosts would like to see the league return to a more predictable model than it has followed for the last decade.

    McNair says Houston deserves to be in that mix, but almost as much as he wants the game, he’d like to see the NFL revamp its selection process so that fewer cities would be sent away wondering where they went wrong.

    “Because they work on these [bids] for two years,” he said, “they get discouraged and they start thinking, ‘Why should I put out this much time and effort and money when I really don’t have a high probability of succeeding. I don’t think that’s good for the league. I think it creates ill will.”

    Instead, McNair would like the league to pre-qualify a handful of cities as suitable hosts and then rotate the game among them. Bidding would determine when a city would host the Super Bowl rather than whether it hosted the game.

    “If Houston is deemed to not be in that category, so be it,” McNair said. “At least you’d know where you stand.”

  • Halftime evolves as sponsorship vehicle

    For the Super Bowl’s first 26 years, the game’s halftime show was as routine as a run up the middle. It was a saccharine combination of marching bands, acts like Up With People and Disney-themed shows such as “It’s a Small World.”

    The Michael Jackson show ushered
    in the modern era of on-field
    entertainment ad dollars.
    Click here

    Then came 1992. The Fox network, without NFL rights at the time, challenged the Super Bowl halftime production with a live episode of its “In Living Color” show. That counterprogramming, labeled “Doritos Zaptime/In Living Color,” siphoned off some 20 million viewers from network partner CBS and TV’s most-watched show.

    The NFL knew it was the end of the line for marching bands at Super Bowl halftime.

    “It was all about the spectacle before, something that would fill the field, and at that point, our competition was really the Orange Bowl [halftime show],” said Jim Steeg, who ran 26 Super Bowls for the NFL, from 1980 to 2005, before leaving to become executive vice president and COO of the San Diego Chargers. “After the Fox thing, we knew we had to do something that really made a difference from an entertainment standpoint.”

    For that next Super Bowl, the NFL not only got Michael Jackson at the peak of his stardom, but it also turned the Super Bowl halftime into a sponsorship offering, allowing a sponsor to attach its name to the extravaganza. It was such an opportunity that Frito-Lay, the same company that had sponsored Fox’s halftime show the year before, did a 180 and sponsored the legit Super Bowl halftime for 1993.

    This year, Bridgestone will be sponsoring its second consecutive Super Bowl halftime show. Phil Pacsi, vice president of marketing for the company, said the sponsorship has already increased brand awareness and purchase intent and helped steal market share from competition in those areas.

    “If you want to build brand awareness, this is the place,” said Michael Fluck, Bridgestone brand marketing manager. “The downside is that you don’t know who the talent is going to be when you sign and you might get something like a wardrobe malfunction [referencing Janet Jackson’s infamous 2004 appearance]. But the upside of being in front of so many eyeballs and being associated with a premium event is very high.”

    Springsteen is the latest veteran
    musician to sign up for the
    halftime extravaganza.
    A rundown of Super Bowl halftime show sponsors:
    Year Show sponsor
    2009 Bridgestone
    2008 Bridgestone
    2007 Pepsi
    2006 Sprint
    2005 Ameriquest
    2004 AOL
    2003 AT&T Wireless
    2002 E-Trade
    2001 E-Trade
    2000 E-Trade
    1999 Progressive Auto Insurance
    1998 Royal Caribbean
    1997 Oscar Mayer
    1996 Oscar Mayer
    1995 Frito-Lay
    1994 Frito-Lay
    1993 Frito-Lay
    Source: SBJ/SBD archives

    Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band get their shot in the Super Bowl halftime slot this year. Here’s how we’d rate the last five acts to have the stage to themselves, rated on a scale of rank (1 guitar) to rock solid (4 guitars).

    Janet Jackson’s nipple was part of an ensemble in 2004 and therefore isn’t included.

    Click here for the ratings

    Pepsi sponsored the Super Bowl XLI halftime show in 2007. Genesco Sports Enterprises helped negotiate the deal.

    “There’s only one front porch on the Super Bowl, and the halftime show is it,” said John Tatum, co-founder of GSE, whose other NFL sponsor clients include Coors, Motorola and Frito-Lay. “The key is retail activation, so you can really convert that Super Bowl connection into sales.”

    Pepsi activated with a sweepstakes offering a jeweled Pepsi can worth $100,000 and Super Bowl tickets for life. However, as often happens, the winner took a cash equivalent.

    As the talent names got bigger, some inevitable complications arose.

    “One of our struggles was that no one wanted to compete with Michael [Jackson], so it took us a while to get people to overcome that,” Steeg said. “After that, the most difficult thing was us trying to top ourselves every year.’’

    More recently, the NFL has been able to attract big names slightly longer in the tooth, like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and, for this year, Bruce Springsteen, based on the Super Bowl’s ability to push sales of recorded music.

    It’s no accident that Springsteen’s new recording will first be available Super Bowl week.

    “We always saw a spike in record sales, even when it was the person that sang the national anthem,” Steeg said.

  • Here for the party, gone by the game

    The Super Bowl long ago become more than just the biggest day in American sports. Super Bowl is now a catch-all phrase for the biggest days, or even week, in sports, as the parties, meetings, media attention and revelry that consume the host city each year can often outstrip the game itself.

    “Go to the airport on Sunday morning and see how many people are leaving,” said Jim Steeg, who organized the game for the NFL for two decades and now works for the San Diego Chargers. “It is a convention. Everybody is there.”

    By Steeg’s count, 30,000 people come to the host city each year who do not attend the game.

    Bob Potter, a sports filmmaker, was on one such flight home last year from Phoenix. Why? His meetings with potential sponsors of his films, the likes of Nike and Bacardi, were done, he said, and working in the sports industry, he has been to enough sporting events. So, the founder of Bombo Sports took the 7 a.m. Continental flight home to New York in order to watch the game with his son.

    From the beginning, the Super Bowl host city has been positioned as a destination for fun, relaxation and a place to do a little business. Steeg said former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle insisted the game occur in warm weather climates and entertainment capitals like Miami and Los Angeles, and the timing of the game allowed companies to reward their best employees of the previous year with trips to the game.

    Parties to a certain extent have always been part of the scene. Rozelle threw the first Commissioner’s Party in Los Angeles at the Biltmore Hotel for journalists before the inaugural game in 1967. Sponsors from early on have also thrown parties around the game. But the emergence of unrelated entities such as Playboy and Maxim, groups with no deep connection to sports, throwing huge, seven-figure parties is a more-recent phenomena.

    “It is a convention.
    Everybody is there.”

    Allen St. John, the author of “The Billion Dollar Game: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Day in American Sport: Super Bowl Sunday,” traces the emergence of the mega Super Bowl party to the 2000 game in Atlanta.

    Playboy was unveiling a new Web site at halftime of that game, and as part of the promotion, it held a party at a local bar. Playboy executives, St. John said, were shocked when the line snaked around the block to get in.

    But it was the 2002 game, he added, when the parties really took off. That was the year when the Super Bowl was moved back a week from its original date because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks disrupting the season. Because of the one-week move, St. John said, Playboy was able to secure the Anne Rice Mansion in New Orleans, thereby setting a new standard for the type of venue that houses these events.

    Now, tickets on the secondary market to the parties thrown by the likes of Playboy and Maxim can fetch more than Super Bowl tickets. Before last year’s game, tickets to Maxim’s party could be had on ticket-resale sites for as much as $4,000 each, which was more than what some tickets to the game were costing.

    “There are 65,000 people who get into the game, but there are only 1,200 who get into the exclusive parties,” St. John said, noting the number of people who can be invited to one of the giant parties. “I have even heard tales of trades,” he added, meaning there are fans willing to give up their seat at the game to get into one of the A-list parties.

    Whether that continues this week, what with the down economy, is a question. Some traditional parties, including Sports Illustrated’s and Playboy’s, have already been scuttled. CAA Sports, which had thrown a party the last several years, also canceled its event. Corporate spending is sure to be down as well (see story, opposite page), and how many fans of the two teams besiege Tampa will also be a closely watched indicator for how this week compares.

    Nonetheless, many of the parties will go on simply because, as they have become such big events, they are budgeted and booked far in advance.

  • Inside the creative process of Bud ads

    It was 1988 when Anheuser-Busch first pitched a TV network on the idea of buying four minutes of advertising in the Super Bowl, along with having alcoholic beverage category exclusivity.

    At the time, Miller Brewing Co. had postseason NFL rights, so A-B could not even use the words “Super Bowl” in its ads. The solution: Create its own championship as a way to leave Budweiser’s mark on America’s biggest sports event.

    The Bud Bowl was born.

    Anheuser-Busch first made its mark in the
    Super Bowl with the start of Bud Bowl.
    NBC is selling at $3 million for a 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl broadcast. A look here at how the ad price has increased through the years.
    Click here

    A-B needed a spot in each quarter to air the ad creation, which saw helmeted, stop-motion animated bottles of Bud play football against bottles of Bud Light during the Super Bowl XXIII broadcast.

    “We knew we were leaving ourselves open for a big price from NBC,” recalls Tony Ponturo, the recently retired head of A-B’s global media and sports marketing operation, “but of all the things in my career, creating a position in the Super Bowl is one I’m proudest of.”

    Those first four spots cost $5 million, together. That’s $1 million less than the asking price for two spots in this year’s game.

    For the record, Bud beat Bud Light that year, 27-24 on a late field goal, but more importantly for the industry, since then, A-B has not relinquished its position as the Super Bowl’s biggest advertiser. It holds those exclusive category rights through 2012.

    The Bud Bowl petered out as a TV ad platform in the mid-1990s, but A-B hung onto its annual practice of running four to six minutes of new ads in each game. It wasn’t just about winning ad polls like the USA Today Ad Meter. It was about selling beer: a monthly lift of 17 percent in the Bud Bowl’s first year and coming in January, typically a dead sales month.

    “We drove a spike in the January beer business that’s still maintained,” said Bob Lachky, A-B’s chief creative officer, who’s had a hand in the company’s Super Bowl ads dating to that first Bud Bowl. “The Super Bowl grew and became a huge event socially, and we grew with it. You’ve got almost 100 million sets of eyeballs and most are beer drinkers in a social occasion. It’s just the most natural place for us to be.”

    Brand marketers and their agencies sweat enormously over producing even one Super Bowl ad because it is the industry’s biggest showcase. As Lachky notes, it’s also the day “everybody in America becomes an advertising expert.”

    Because A-B traditionally is a heavy fourth-quarter calendar advertiser, the concepts for the company’s many Super Bowl ads typically begin to get discussed just after Labor Day.

    From the inspirational to the silly,
    Anheuser-Busch commercials have
    been among the most memorable
    spots shown during the Super Bowl.

    Mark Gross, senior vice president and group creative director at A-B agency partner DDB Chicago, says the process starts with “literally hundreds of scripts.” By November, somewhere between 12 and 20 scripts have been turned into storyboards. After meetings at the brewery, a dozen to 15 are selected for production. Most are shot before Christmas, but spots that don’t use special effects and won’t take as long to complete can get shot in January.

    The week prior to Super Bowl week, 12 or more of the spots are shown to focus groups at cities in the Midwest, West and East. There are about 30 people in the room who have identified themselves as beer drinkers between the ages of 21 and 55. They are asked to rate the ads on a 1-10 scale.

    “If an ad gets an eight, it is really difficult for them to say it’s not going on the Super Bowl,” Gross said.

    Normally, the focus groups are reliable. “Skydiver,” an ad in which a pilot jumps from a plane, pursuing a six-pack of Bud Light, won the testing before Super Bowl XXXIX and subsequently won the USA Today poll. Another ad, in which a band of crabs steal a cooler of Bud and then genuflect in front of their new master, tested only OK, but it won the Ad Meter in 2007. Lachky still doesn’t know why.

    “It was good enough to be in the game, but I didn’t think it was terribly funny or surprising,” he said.

    A 1999 ad, “Separated at Birth,” the tale of two dalmatians from the same litter, got indifferent ratings from focus groups. After it was tweaked to more clearly show both the passage of time and more succinctly identify the two dogs, it won the Ad Meter, something A-B has done for the past 10 years.

    Lachky said the internal approval process is not difficult, although he said working on the ad in Super Bowl XXXVI where the famed A-B team of Clydesdales paid homage to 9/11 victims was “gut wrenching.”

    Aside from that ad, which ran just once, lest A-B be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy, one of the bigger points of discussion comes in deciding where each of the ads gets placed during the game broadcast.

    “It used to be you wanted to load up in the first half, the first and second quarter,” Lachky said. “But now, I don’t think that is valid, because there is interest in the game that stays.”

    The ads are usually delivered to the network four to five days before the game, although Lachky recalls changing his mind about what to air as late as a day before the Super Bowl.

    Anheuser-Busch has scored the highest-rated Super Bowl ad in USA Todays Ad Meter for 10 consecutive years, starting with a 1999 spot featuring two dalmatians and continuing through last year, with another dalmatian-starring spot.
    Year Description
    2008 Dalmatian trains Clydesdale to make beer wagon team.
    2007 Crabs worship cooler of beer.
    2006 Magic refrigerator hides Bud Light from unwelcome visitors.
    2005 When skydiver wont jump for Bud Light, friend and pilot do.
    2004 Dog bites man to get him to give up Bud Light.
    2003 Zebra reviews instant replay during Clydesdale football game.
    2002 Husband slides out bedroom window diving for wifes Bud Light.
    2001 Cedric the Entertainers date ruined when Bud Light bottles explode.
    2000 Dog imagines chasing a Bud truck but jumps face first into parked van.
    1999 Two dalmatians separated at birth are reunited.
    Source: SportsBusiness Journal archives

    The money A-B has poured into the networks over the years has bought some influence along with air time. Ponturo recalls two of what may have been the only instant make-goods in the history of the game.

    At Super Bowl XXVI in Minnesota, a call to Ponturo from a viewer in Florida told him that a first-quarter ad broke up. The network didn’t see anything at its end but granted A-B another ad slot in the third quarter. Later, it was discovered that a satellite problem had scuttled the ad in 11 percent of the country.

    Another year, when Bud had its name on the blimp hovering over the Super Bowl venue, the obligatory shot was marred by the blinding sun. After a few phone calls, the blimp got a second beauty shot, this time with a clearly visible logo.

    Exactly what makes an ad “Super Bowl worthy” is something that the folks behind the creatives will debate forever.

    “You want something that is new, high on the entertainment scale, funny and perhaps surprising,” Lachky said.

    But doesn’t that sound like every Bud Light spot?

    “A lot of advertisers that get on the game seem like they are all doing Bud Light ads,” Lachky said. “The good news for us is, that is our strategy, but it can be a crowded game when everybody follows the same formula. There are times I’ve seen [other Super Bowl] ads and said, ‘I don’t know what the brand is,’ so we try to make sure that doesn’t happen with any of our creative.”

    This year’s crop of A-B Super Bowl ads is expected to include three spots using the iconic Clydesdales: one showing a romance with a circus horse, another tracing Clydesdale history, and a third with a game of fetch. Bud Light will continue its recent “drinkability” campaign, and expect pushes for two recent launches: Budweiser American Ale and Bud Light Lime.

    “We’re just trying to show Bud is still a great American brand and nothing has changed,” Lachky said, referencing A-B’s acquisition last year by Belgium’s InBev.

    DDB’s Gross said it’s about finding a universal concept. His favorite ads are the relatively simple ones, like “Magic Fridge,” featuring an attempt to hide a stash of Bud Light in a revolving fridge that “magically’’ appears in an adjacent apartment. He also noted “Shopping,” where a guy reluctantly shopping with his wife finds refuge inside a clothes rack with other guys, quaffing Bud Light and watching football; along with “Satin Sheets,” in which a man is enticed to bed by some Bud Light. After diving on the sheets, he goes flying out the window, sans clothes.

    “The toughest part in all of this is finding that one simple, relatable idea,” Gross said. “I’m not the guy who wants the giant, million-dollar exploding-car chase scene. It’s never that; it’s ‘What’s the core idea?’

    “‘Satin Sheets’ was a silly spot about a guy flying out the window. … It was just a great visual. When we finished ‘Magic Fridge,’ I worried about how it looked, but people just loved the idea. It’s all about putting a new and funny spin on a common truth.”

  • Money talks for licensed gear, goodies

    Two hours before Super Bowl XXIX, a father and son stepped out of the Florida sunshine and into Joe Robbie Stadium, hurrying to the souvenir stand closest to the gate.

    “What can I get, Dad?’’ pleaded the towheaded 10-year-old.

    Clutching tickets in one hand and grabbing for his wallet with the other, the man told his boy what he wanted to hear: “Anything you want, son.”

    That kind of unbridled consumerism has helped make the Super Bowl the top merchandise seller among one-day events, annually bringing $100 million or more at retail and drawing among the highest per cap rates of any event in America: three to four times that of a regular-season NFL game.

    “Players always say each round of the playoffs takes it to another level. The same is true from a merchandising perspective,’’ said Milt Arenson, president and CEO of Facility Merchandising Inc., which has exclusively sold merchandise at Super Bowl venues for more than 20 years. FMI also administers merchandising in the host city’s hotels and distributes the Super Bowl game program. “Going to the Super Bowl is on every sports fan’s bucket list, so you know people are going to spend. We’ve done Olympics and World Cup; the Super Bowl is still at the top of the heap.”

    Jim Steeg ran 26 Super Bowls for the NFL, from 1980 to 2005, before leaving to become executive vice president and chief operating officer of the San Diego Chargers. When asked about the difference in merchandising for the Super Bowl and any other NFL game, he offered an example.

    The NFL allows the host city
    to sell Super Bowl-logoed
    items as early as Aug. 1.

    “A team might sell 5,000 programs for a regular-season game,” Steeg said. “For the Super Bowl, we’d sell around 30,000. I’ve seen guys buy a box of 25 and just pass them down the row.”

    As a further point of comparison, programs at Steeg’s first Super Bowl cost $2.50. At this year’s game, they will be priced at $25.

    The benchmark for Super Bowl merchandise is $100 million in retail sales, with 50 percent in the host city and 25 percent in each of the two competing cities. That can vary greatly, though, as can the ratio of team-specific to championship-market product and the ratio of hot-market to generic product, based on which teams are playing. Pittsburgh’s triumph at Detroit in Super Bowl XL was the league’s biggest based on licensed sales because of the Steelers’ national fan base, the proximity of their home market to the game site, and the fact that Detroit’s winter weather boosted sales of outerwear.

    “It really makes a difference if a team has won before,” said Leo Kane, NFL vice president of licensing and consumer products, who has worked the last 16 Super Bowls. “That means they’ll have a big fan base and there will be a demand for commemorative product, which usually lasts well into the next season.”

    The scope of Super Bowl merchandising as it stands today is largely the result of a symbiotic relationship that draws back 20 years. The Super Bowl, as an event, came of age at almost the same time as the licensed sports apparel boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    “You had teams like the Cowboys and 49ers winning it multiple times and creating unprecedented demand,” said Jim Connelly, who from 1993 until 1998 ran NFL licensing as senior vice president of consumer products. “All of a sudden, everything was about ‘if-win’ orders, and the difference between winning and losing was tens of millions. So we got very good at meeting that mushrooming demand with instant gratification.’’

    Merchandising Marks
    Super Bowl XL (2006)
    • Terrible Towel with Super Bowl marks part of Pittsburgh purchasing wave
    • Product co-branded with marks of halftime act: Rolling Stones
    • Build-A-Bear introduces Super Bowl-themed product in all stores
    Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)
    • Cold weather merchandise introduced
    • Activa launches Super Bowl ticket collection
    Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
    • Point-of-purchase materials offered in English and Spanish
    • The Highland Mint brings the Super Bowl flip coin to TV advertising
    • Kolder introduces Super Bowl jersey can holder
    Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)
    • Fotoball produces champion footballs
    • Pro Specialties Group introduces Super Bowl-themed disposable cameras
    Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)
    • TD becomes the first and only Super Bowl bean bear in a stadium giveaway; 80,000 given out
    Super Bowl XXXV (2001)
    • Artist Charles Fazzino does his first Super Bowl commemorative piece
    Super Bowl XXXIV (2000)
    • Millennium-inspired Super Bowl countdown clock released
    Super Bowl XXXI (1997)
    • Northwest establishes throw blankets as a hot-market item
    • Sales records set with first Green Bay Packers title in 29 years
    Super Bowl XX (1986)
    • Wilson offers football with logos of Super Bowl and participating teams (Chicago, New England)
    Source: NFL

    Sales have also been fueled by the addition of new products to the mix each year. Susan Rothman, NFL consumer products vice president, cited handbags, jewelry and camisoles as examples for this year’s game.

    “Location and temperature really dictate the product mix,” Rothman said. “We needed very different product in Detroit than we’ll need in Tampa.”

    Steeg traces the rise of generic Super Bowl product to an aggressive push by the Super Bowl XVI host committee for the 1982 game in Pontiac, Mich.

    “They were the first host committee with real muscle, and when they started pushing hard on sales of stuff with host committee marks in Detroit, it showed us the opportunity,” he said.

    Before the next Super Bowl, generic Super Bowl-licensed products were in airports and hotel gift shops long before the game. These days, the NFL permits retailers in the host city to sell generic Super Bowl-logoed items as early as Aug. 1.

    While apparel makes up the majority of Super Bowl licensed products, over the years, there has been an intriguing variety of offerings. Steeg’s mulch pile of forgotten Super Bowl licensed merchandise includes playing cards with images of tickets on the back, inspired by the amount of time he spent “shuffling tickets.” Also in Steeg’s attic are jigsaw puzzles and forgotten recordings of halftime marching bands.

    This year, the more than 80 Super Bowl licensees’ hundreds of offerings include car mats, pewter letter openers, electric trains, pizza cutters, baby booties, rugs and leather recliners. Playing to the NFL’s assertion that the Super Bowl trails only Thanksgiving as a food-consumption holiday in America, there’s also a Super Bowl Crock-Pot from Jarden Corp., cake decorations from DecoPac, and M&M’s with Super Bowl logos from Mars Direct. Hallmark markets some 40 Super Bowl party products, including invitations, cups, napkins and plates.

    It should be no surprise that Arenson’s favorite Super Bowl was played at the game’s largest venue, the Rose Bowl, which has hosted the game five times.

    Remember the scene in “Hoosiers” where the coach has his team measure the distance from the rim down to the floor to show them that the site of the state championship game is the same as their gym back home? Capturing the merchandising dollars from the affluent Super Bowl crowd requires the opposite philosophy.

    “We start planning for next year the day after the Super Bowl because every site is unique,’’ Arenson said. “Nothing out there makes Tampa like Miami, or Miami like Dallas, or Dallas like Indianapolis. They’re all different, and the key is to plan and react with that in mind.”

  • NBC stands firm on $3M ad rate

    NBC is holding the line on its $3 million Super Bowl ad rate despite a recession that has thrown the TV advertising market into a state of “outright paralysis,” said NBC’s top ad sales executive.

    Fox charged $2.7 million for a 30-second
    advertising spot during last year’s Super Bowl.
    Click here

    “We’re not going to significantly break price,” said Seth Winter, NBC’s senior vice president for ad sales. “I feel strongly that when you’ve done business with 20 of your best partners … [you don’t want to] compromise what you’ve done. That doesn’t make sense on any number of levels.”

    While $3 million is the cost of doing business, Winter said there are several opportunities for potential advertisers to get a Super Bowl spot for less, particularly if advertisers buy in other NBC Sports programming.

    “While we’ve been asking for $3 million, we’ve been asking as loudly, if not louder, for peripheral investment to give me a reason to write it for less than $3 million,” Winter said.

    Former Anheuser-Busch sports marketing and media chief Tony Ponturo said Winter will have to get creative to cut the last couple of deals.

    “Seth and NBC got out of the gates quick with strong unit pricing and fast sales but ultimately hit the ‘dreaded’ last-eight-to-10-units-left wall in the fourth quarter [of 2008] and now a tough economy,” Ponturo said. “I know Seth wants to maintain the integrity of the pricing, so creativity and some packaging with other inventory may be in order.”

    Last years Super Bowl had U.S. consumers spending an estimated $9.5 billion as a direct result of the game, with many of those purchases coming at the grocery store.
    Item Pct. of viewers buying the item specifically because of the game
    Food/beverages 67.40%
    Team-specific apparel or accessories 6.00%
    TV 4.10%
    Furniture 1.90%
    Note: Information based on more than 8,000 U.S. adults (ages 18+) being asked a series of questions in early January about their Super Bowl plans.
    Source: National Retail Federation annual survey, conducted by BIGresearch
    When you watch the Super Bowl, what is the most important part for you?
    Click here
    Click here

    The best category so far, Winter said, has been movie companies. “Without them, I don’t know where we’d be,” he said.

    The worst? Domestic autos, which for the first time in memory, had not purchased any time during or around the game as of mid-January.

    “There are certain advertisers that you’d expect year in and year out,” Winter said. “We’re selling in a marketplace where there are categories and advertisers who are just not there to support the game. It’s startling, but we continue to move ahead.”

    Getting good results is important to Winter, who took a big risk earlier this spring when he set the price of a Super Bowl ad at its highest-ever level.

    The increase was unprecedented, especially considering that for the past several years, TV ad rates for 30-second Super Bowl spots generally have risen by $100,000 per year. Last year, Fox wrote business for $2.7 million. Most observers expected NBC to charge $2.8 million this year.

    Predictably, the ad sales community complained loudly when NBC set its price, but the network saw a lot of early success with its new, aggressive rate. In September, coming off a wildly successful Olympics — which brought in more than $1 billion in advertising — NBC said it had sold 85 percent of its Super Bowl inventory, leaving just 10 spots available.

    John Elway led the Broncos
    to a win in the last Super
    Bowl broadcast by NBC.
    NBC will broadcast the Super Bowl for the 16th time in the games history this year, but it marks the first Super Bowl broadcast for the nextwork since 1998.
    No. of Super Bowls
    Note: Includes the shared broadcast of Super Bowl I.
    Source: SportsBusiness Journal archives

    Then the economy tanked. Winter describes the fourth quarter as a period of “outright paralysis in the marketplace with certain companies.”

    Earlier this month, NBC said it was 90 percent sold, with seven spots left. That means the network had filled just three spots since September, and it was planning a big push to sell the remaining spots in the final weeks before the big game.

    “We left for Beijing with a solid foundation, thinking that we would come back post-Labor Day and we’d continue to march to this inevitable sellout,” Winter said. “Obviously, the world changed in September pretty dramatically. The road to sellout has been littered more greatly than we thought it would be. We continue to move ahead, but it’s not with the same ease prior to leaving for Beijing.”

    Winter defended his decision to push the $3 million price point.

    “If advertisers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, why would you let $100,000 get in the way of the most important day of their advertising calendar?”

  • Parties may be smaller, but Vegas still draws crowds

    The NFL’s clampdown on massive Super Bowl viewing parties in Las Vegas a few years ago tempered the atmosphere on the Strip, but the ability to legally gamble on the game continues to attract crowds.

    The league in 2003 sent cease-and-desist letters to numerous casinos, citing copyright violations over promotions and large public viewings on television screens of more than 55 inches. Prior to that, casinos would clear out convention halls, put up large televisions and throw lavish Super Bowl parties. For a $50 entry fee, the typical party offered all-you-can-eat food and drink to spur wagering in the sports book.

    These days, casinos show the game on TV screens in restaurants and sports books, but the large-scale parties are no more. Hotel marketers still entertain guests, but they do so in a more underground fashion by throwing smaller parties and flying in former NFLers and other public figures to mingle with key clients in suites.

    Two of the larger hotel properties in Las Vegas declined to comment about their plans this weekend, citing concerns about attracting the ire of the NFL. Marketers with two other properties did not return messages.

    “We probably shouldn’t be talking about this considering what happened a few years ago,” said one hotel employee.

    Travel to Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend rose incrementally the last few years, topping out at an estimated 290,000 in 2008, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, though hotel occupancy rates for that weekend declined from 95 percent in 2005 to 92 percent in 2007, the last year data was available.

    “It’s still a very nice weekend for us,” said Kris Tibbs, senior research analyst for the visitors group.

    Despite the NFL’s actions, the Super Bowl remains one of the more popular weekends of the year in Las Vegas in terms of gambling revenue. Analysts believe Las Vegas casinos could record up to $100 million in Super Bowl wagers this year.

    “The lack of parties hasn’t affected the amount wagered at all,” said John Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas.

    Counting total dollars wagered at the sports books along with table wagering, Super Bowl weekend ranks with other busy dates like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July.

    “It’s definitely among the top three or four weekends of the year,” said Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

  • Record-size security staff stands guard

    On Sunday, Feb. 3, last year, Kurt William Havelock, a 35-year-old restaurant owner, left the Tempe, Ariz., condominium he shared with his fiancee, her two children and two dogs, and drove to a post office half an hour east in Glendale, where he mailed off eight letters.

    Havelock’s plans for that afternoon had originally included a trip to Desert Ridge Marketplace, a glitzy, 110-acre shopping complex in northeast Phoenix. But sometime that week, he changed his mind.

    The mall would likely be crowded, with Dave & Buster’s and other restaurants there filled with fans gearing up for Super Bowl XLII, which would be played that afternoon just a few minutes down Loop 101.

    It wasn’t that Havelock didn’t want to deal with the crowds. He just wanted a bigger one.

    Most of the security labor will be outside the
    stadium, screening people as they arrive.

    So he headed the seven miles south, to University of Phoenix Stadium, the game site for the Giants and Patriots.

    Just a few hours before kickoff, Havelock pulled into the parking lot of Arena, where a host of pregame festivities were happening a few hundred yards away from the stadium.

    Armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, six 30-round magazines and 20 loose rounds of ammunition, Havelock, a man with no criminal record and no history of mental disorder, surveyed the scene: 100,000 fans, hundreds of security officials.

    Not one of them knew that the letters he had just mailed were addressed to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Associated Press, among others, and that they contained an eight-page manifesto detailing a planned massacre that he promised would be “swift, and bloody.”

    But after arriving on site, Havelock changed his mind. He turned himself in to local police a few hours later.


    Law enforcement officials in Tampa hope the combination of experience and a record-sized security budget and staff will help prevent the near disaster that occurred last year at Glendale’s first Super Bowl.

    Much has changed for Super Bowl hosts since the game was last staged in Tampa in 2001. The biggest change, according to Maj. John Bennett, the Tampa Police Department’s incident commander for the Super Bowl, is the implementation of “target hardening,” security industry jargon that describes the perimeter barricades that have encompassed each of the seven post-9/11 Super Bowl stadium sites.

    When Super Bowl XLIII was awarded to Tampa in 2005, city officials estimated that the municipalitys net cost to host the game would be about $1 million. The economy has changed drastically since then, but Tampa has managed to keep its expenses roughly within that budget. Following is a breakdown of the citys estimated expenditures for the game, as of Jan. 8, along with outside contributions for certain areas.
    $918,300: Police services
    • $185,000: From the NFL
    $333,000: Transportation/public works (electronic message boards, detour signage, barricades)
    • $88,000: From the NFL
    $120,000: Beautification/infrastructure upgrades
    $70,000: From the Florida Department of Transportation
    $56,100: Fire, rescue and emergency services
    • $38,500: From the NFL
    $780: Code enforcement
    Source: City of Tampa

    Every one of the estimated 100,000 people who will enter the site this year — from fans to vendors to the 2,000 people who have volunteered to storm the field when Bruce Springsteen plays the halftime show — will pass through a magnetometer as they would at an airport.

    What that means, Bennett said, is that most of the security labor is located outside the stadium itself. That includes more than 3,000 security personnel, from uniformed guards and undercover decoys to Coast Guard pilots and Homeland Security officials.

    Approximately 300 local and county officers will be inside the stadium, about the same number as for a regular-season game, as well as about 20 state highway patrol officers located on the field. Police and emergency costs for the city will be offset at least in part by reimbursements coming from the NFL, according to Santiago Corrada, Tampa’s administrator of neighborhood services and the person who is overseeing Tampa’s $1 million spending for the effort.

    The NFL plans to spend about $6 million on security for this Sunday’s Super Bowl, according to people involved with the game. League officials would not comment on that amount. The game’s security plan was tested earlier this month during the Outback Bowl, also played at Raymond James Stadium.

    The massive operation will be run out of the joint operating center (JOC), a secure, highly technical outpost located far from the stadium whose location is not publicly identified. From there, officials can communicate with the more than a dozen organizations that are working to protect the area. If the security inside the perimeter is compromised — “swallowed,” in security terms — action plans will be orchestrated from the JOC.

    The last time the Super Bowl was in Tampa, in 2001, security also was story line, but for a different reason. The city and the NFL received criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union after it was revealed that a face-recognition system had been used to compare an image of every attendee as they entered the stadium against a criminal database. City officials said the game was just a test site for the system and that this time, undercover enforcement will monitor the crowds for specific behavior.

    As Bennett acknowledged, last year’s potential Super Bowl shooter probably would not have fit anyone’s profile. He said league and local officials know there’s a limit on how much scrutiny fans will endure.

    “It’s still an event first and has to have the feel of a game,” he said, “and it’s our job to maintain that facade.”

  • Super Bowl Memories

    Chris Berman
    NFL anchor, broadcaster

    The first Super Bowl I ever covered was the 49ers’ first, Super Bowl XVI, in 1982. I was very close to the organization, and it was fun watching it up close because every time the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, they won.


    Super Bowl XXIV against Denver in New Orleans sticks out. Joe Montana had come under a bit of scrutiny during the week for something, and he went out and just destroyed the Broncos’ defense. I’ve never seen him better, and that’s saying something because it’s Montana. There was one play just before the end of the half, a touchdown on a post to Jerry Rice, that pretty much put the game away. Montana gave a fist pump after the touchdown, and you knew they were in the driver’s seat. They went on to repeat as Super Bowl champs, and Montana became arguably the best quarterback of all time.

    Five years later, the 49ers were back in the Super Bowl in Miami, and it was Steve Young’s time. Finally, they had beaten Dallas, and there was one more game to get the monkey off his back. I went to practice on Thursday, and the ball in the hour and a half never hit the ground. The 49ers were so precise. To see that translate from practice to the actual game was incredible. Steve threw for six touchdown passes, ran for 49 yards and the 49ers beat the Chargers 49-26.

    Those last few Super Bowls the 49ers won, their offense was just like a race car, ready to roll and blow everybody away.

    Chris Berman will be covering his 27th Super Bowl this year.

    Bob Wolff


    I was the lucky guy at the play-by-play mike describing the ultimate in team play when the Baltimore Colts edged the New York Giants, 23-17, in the National Football League’s first overtime championship game.

    It was more than “the greatest football game ever played” because of its galvanizing effect on the NFL. Aided by the national TV and radio coverage, this 1958 thriller sold the professional game to viewers, listeners and the press as no other game had ever done. Networks and sponsors were eager to satisfy the new demand. Pro football had hit the media jackpot. … The college game had dominated the football world, but in one day, pro football leaped into the national spotlight. The title game received a more grandiose label (the Super Bowl) as it became the nation’s most-viewed individual sports event.

    Just two years before the Colts-Giants championship game, Hall of Fame sportscaster Bob Wolff called Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

    Larry Weisman
    NFL writer
    USA Today

    I covered my first Super Bowl 30 years ago. Ah, Miami in the winter. What a respite from the Northeastern winter. And the teams: the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. This was the Super Bowl at which Cowboys linebacker Thomas Henderson would say that Terry Bradshaw couldn’t spell “cat” if you spotted him the “c” and the “a.” The drop in the end zone by Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith of a sure touchdown pass. Tom Landry on one sideline, Chuck Noll on the other for another Steelers victory.

    But here is what I remember best: Tickets were $40. This year, they were officially priced at $1,000 for the first time. At the Orange Bowl, on game day way back when, I found my seat in the auxiliary press section and prepared to work. Took out my notebook, binoculars, flip card. When I looked up, I saw a familiar head bobbing in the row ahead of me, which was the last area of fan seating. It was one of my co-workers, who had come to Miami to see his family and went to the game on a whim.

    “How did you get a ticket?”


    “How much?”


    I imagine hot dogs were probably only a dollar then.

    Jim Saccomano
    Vice president, public relations
    Denver Broncos

    The NFL has a large cadre of PR people to make the media side of it go, and I have been honored to be a part of that group for 25 years. My story is from Super Bowl XXV at Tampa in 1991.

    The number of pages of print material handed out to the media is staggering. It’s basically a palette of paper consumed during the game. All week long, we kept checking with the fellow in charge of making sure the paper was delivered, and all week long we were assured it was there.

    Then, early Sunday morning, our PR crew arrived. Guess what? No paper. Not one sheet. And it’s Sunday. Nobody is open. The Bucs’ PR rep took a van back to his offices and brought back all the Xerox paper from their building — nowhere near enough. He then woke up a fellow who owned a small print shop and convinced him to open up, and the van headed there.

    I will never forget the sight of a cadre of big-time PR executives (us), all wearing suits, each carrying a box of Xerox paper up the stadium steps and escalators to the distribution location.

    So, there are a lot of details to putting on a big event, a lot of which seem more exciting than this, but, don’t forget the paper.

    Mark Murphy
    Green Bay Packers

    My fondest memory from my playing career was Super Bowl XVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. We had just defeated the Miami Dolphins for the Redskins’ first title since 1942. My father, Hugh, who passed away this summer, had made his way into the locker room and was able to be with me. It was a great setting. We were the world champions, and for Big Murph, as my father was affectionately known, to be there to experience and share in the exhilaration is a moment I’ll never forget.

    Jimmy Smith
    Group creative director
    TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles

    My college basketball career was in a shambles. I had been cut from Michigan State’s basketball team … again! So my NBA dream was dead. I thought, “What am I gonna do?!” Then, I was watching the Super Bowl, and this commercial for Apple ran. At that moment, I instantly knew what the next best thing to working in the NBA was gonna be. It was to work for whatever ad agency that did that dope “1984” for Apple. That Super Bowl spot launched my career and my quest.

    Stephanie Druley
    Senior coordinating producer

    My first Super Bowl was January 1997. I was an associate producer working on features. I was young, naïve and thought it would be fun. It was hard work then and it’s even tougher now. At that time, we just did TV: segments on “SportsCenter” and “Countdown.” Now, ESPN has TV, radio, dot-com, the magazine and other platforms offering coverage all week, 24/7.  Planning for this year started before last season even ended. It’s an incredibly demanding event and equally as rewarding when it’s all done.

    Jon Higgins
    Senior partner and CEO, international

    Since I live in London and have been a lifelong Giants fan, my 11-year-old son and I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. watching every blessed play in last year’s Super Bowl on Sky Sports. It remains the most exciting sporting contest I have ever seen, including the Giants’ first Super Bowl win, which I witnessed in person at the Rose Bowl.

    Trey Wingo
    “NFL Live” host

    The whole thing about getting postgame interviews at the Super Bowl is they herd you down somewhere in the building well before the game is over. Halfway through the fourth quarter last year in Arizona, we left the trailer behind the stadium. I was in a holding pen with hundreds of media waiting to be released onto the field.

    I had to know what was going on, so I called Mark Schlereth, who was home watching. He gave me the play-by-play as the Patriots marched down the field and scored the touchdown to take the lead.

    The reception was cutting in and out, and I could peer my head around and kind of see what was happening on the field. I knew the Giants’ drive came down to a crucial play, and then they scored, and the Patriots ran out the clock.

    I could see Plaxico [Burress] made the catch for the touchdown, but I couldn’t figure out who made that catch to keep the drive alive. As soon as we got onto the field, I went straight to Plaxico and got the first interview with him, thinking, “This is great. I’ve got the one-on-one with the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown.”

    Five minutes later, we’re walking around, and about 10 people are surrounding David Tyree, the team’s fourth wide receiver. I’m getting all these other people — Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, Michael Strahan. Finally, I go back behind the Giants’ locker room later and I get Archie Manning. It’s not until I talked to him that I finally learned Tyree made the big catch to keep the drive alive. Had I known that, I would have gone to him first, but that’s what it’s like trying to cover the Super Bowl in a game like that.

    Gary Belsky
    ESPN The Magazine

    One of the best things about covering the Super Bowl is the media buffet, and not because of the food. This is the cavernous room where you routinely get a chance to meet your much-admired peers: famous writers, legendary reporters, producers you’ve long respected and on-air talent you grew up watching. And sometimes, the dad of your favorite player, who’s also a pretty accomplished journalist himself.

    This happened to me at the second Super Bowl I attended, Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, Jacksonville. I had just finished loading up my breakfast plate when I spotted Larry Fitzgerald Sr. Fans in the Twin Cities knew him as a veteran writer, producer, talk-show host and commentator, most notably as sports editor and columnist for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

    I knew him that way too, but mostly I thought of him as the dad of my favorite wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald Jr., who was drafted the prior spring by my favorite football team, thus offering a beleaguered Cardinals fan some hope for the future.

    Turning 15 again, I reacted to seeing Fitzgerald by losing any sense of professional cool. I immediately sat down next to the man and spent the next 20 minutes peppering him with a mixture of questions, mostly about his son (Was he always so sure-handed? How did you raise him to be such a good kid?), but also about his journalist career (Do you prefer print, radio or TV? What’s it like working for one of the oldest African-American newspapers in the country?) and even about breakfast (How ’bout them scrambled eggs? Will you please pass the pepper?).

    Fitzgerald answered all my questions. All in all, he was gracious, although at some point he said something about needing a bagel and left the table. Every time I saw him for the rest of the weekend, he turned the other way. Can’t say I blame him.

    George Martin
    Vice president
    AXA Sports Financial Services

    My biggest memory would have to be our [New York Giants] Super Bowl and the safety against the Denver Broncos and John Elway back in 1987. That is something that will always be a sense of pride for me and a great accomplishment — to have done that on the world’s greatest stage.

    George Martin was a defensive tackle for the New York Giants (1975-88). Last fall, he walked across the United States to raise awareness and funds for 9/11 first responders.

    Marv Albert
    TNT, Westwood One Radio


    As a fan, it would have to be the Jets beating the Colts in 1969. I remember watching the game on NBC. It wasn’t what you could call a great game, but the magnitude of the win was enormous, Joe Namath and his guarantee of victory, particularly in a Giants-geared city. … The game was so significant in leading to the merger.

    From a broadcast point of view, there are two memories. The most exciting play to call was in 2007, when Devin Hester of the Bears returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. It was a stunner, and on a rain-soaked field in Miami. It was a perfect way to start the game. It gets you ready for the rest of the game.

    The other game was last year, when the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. Put that right alongside the Jets in ’69 in terms of upsets.

    Marv Albert will be calling his seventh Super Bowl this year for Westwood One Radio.

    Arlen Kantarian
    Former CEO of professional tennis
    U.S. Tennis Association


    Cowboys-Bills at the Rose Bowl in 1993: I was producing the halftime show, and Garth Brooks was set to sing the anthem. He threatened to walk out 20 minutes before the start of the anthem because the network didn’t play his video during pregame as promised. The NFL was left without an anthem singer and asked us to find a celebrity in the stadium who would be willing to sing on 10 minutes notice.

    We found Jon Bon Jovi, who was willing to do it. He came down from his suite, practiced in the tunnel, and at the last minute Garth Brooks showed up, realizing he could not possibly walk out on the national anthem with an audience of over a billion people. Bon Jovi was promised the anthem for the following Super Bowl.

    Clifton Brown
    NFL writer
    The Sporting News

    After last year’s Super Bowl, I was rushing back from the Giants’ locker room to write a magazine feature on Eli Manning. I passed a man in the hallway who looked familiar, but I was in such a hurry to make deadline, I kept right on walking. I took about 10 more steps before I realized who it was: Archie Manning, Eli’s father. I did a U-turn, caught up with him, and asked him some questions about watching another son win a Super Bowl. He could not have been nicer. I walked away thinking, “Man, is that guy lucky.”

    Later, I started thinking, “I just watched a great Super Bowl in person for free, I got paid to do it and I accidentally bumped into a source who helped my story.” Sometimes, when I get stressed about the job, I think about that moment, and it brings a smile to my face.

    Warren Sapp
    NFL Network, Showtime

    My Super Bowl anecdote was trying to figure out a way to get 50 tickets. I am in California and my whole family is in Florida, and I am trying to figure out how to get them all tickets. That was the hardest thing. I have pictures from Sports Illustrated where I am sitting there counting them out, trying to make sure I had them all. I counted them every day to make sure my mama’s ticket was good, my sister’s ticket was good. It was the wildest thing ever, and I didn’t get them all until the last day. The game was the easiest thing. Those 50 tickets were a nightmare.

    Harvey Schiller
    International Baseball Federation

    Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego produced my best personal memory. I was with Sid Luckman and Al Davis, both hall of famers and fellow Erasmus Hall High School graduates. Al was my freshman football coach at The Citadel and, of course, famous for recruiting Paul Maguire, my roommate to Charleston.

    Leonard Armato
    AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour


    My favorite Super Bowl memory was the San Francisco 49ers miracle team of 1982 winning it all after finishing near the bottom the year before. Joe Montana and Dwight Clark led the offense, and Ronnie Lott, who was my first sports client when I was an agent, was the defensive star in his rookie season.

    Evan Kamer
    Executive vice president
    Fantasy Sports Ventures

    Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 was only the second time the NFL allowed real-time fan votes to influence the MVP winner. There was a very short window when fans were able to cast their votes on or via mobile phone. The game came down to a last-second, game-winning kick by Adam Vinatieri. Votes had to be tallied quickly, and the MVP (Tom Brady) needed to be announced within minutes. But the effort was nothing compared with what Jim Steeg and the NFL events group were able to pull off that year, having to move the game back one week because of the 9/11 attacks, which happened only four months prior.

    While the game was one of the most thrilling and one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, the most memorable moment was the moving, uplifting and respectful halftime performance U2 gave, as names of all the 9/11 victims scrolled up a screen behind Bono as he sang “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

    Evan Kamer was senior director of business development for NFL Digital Media at the time of Super Bowl XXXVI.

    Joe Favorito
    Strategic communications and brand consultant, former head of communications for the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and USTA

    I have three Super Bowl memories, more for the locale from where I witnessed them.

    The first was seeing Kevin Dyson stopped at the end of Super Bowl XXXIV. I watched on a 12-inch screen in an empty bar at the Johannesburg airport on the way to Davis Cup in Zimbabwe.

    The second was seeing Denver defeat Green Bay in the early-morning hours amongst a half-dozen cheeseheads at the Melbourne Casino during the Australian Open.

    The third was watching the Cowboys beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XII from the emergency room of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, where I had gone to get my hand X-rayed after chipping a bone in my thumb during a pre-Super Bowl touch football game in front of my grandparents’ house.

    Trent Dilfer
    NFL analyst

    The biggest challenge was the emotions: going back to the stadium where I had played so long and now [was] in Super Bowl XXXV, the biggest game of my life. Everything I did that week was to mentally and emotionally prepare myself to not get caught up in the moment when I walked onto the field. I soaked in the environment and the grandeur of the Super Bowl, but was calm and as flat-lined as I had ever been before a game.

    When the game kicked off, I didn’t have enough emotion to play the game or any rhythm, and I played poorly. Our fullback, Sam Gash, came over to me in the huddle when we were in a TV timeout. He grabbed me by the chest-plate of my pads, shook me and said, “You need to get your emotions up. You are the emotional leader of this team.”

    Boy, did it wake me up. A few plays later, I threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Stokely, and the rest of the way, I played my game, and we won.

    Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl XXXV title in Tampa in 2001, the year after he left the Buccaneers, for whom he played his first six NFL seasons.

    Jay Harris
    “SportsCenter” anchor

    I was working in Pittsburgh doing national radio news when the Cowboys met the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. A buddy of mine and I wore our Cowboys jerseys to the Black and Gold party at work that Friday before the game. We were booed and joked [at] mercilessly. You may remember the Cowboys won the game. My buddy and I wore our jerseys to work that Monday … grinning. People didn’t talk to us for a long time.

    Mike Greenberg
    Show host
    ESPN Radio

    They say you never forget your first, and I certainly never will. My first Super Bowl: 1993 in the Rose Bowl, watching the sun set in the distance as Garth Brooks sang the national anthem and the military planes flew overhead in formation. Then, the Cowboys shellacked the Bills 52-17. I have had the privilege of covering 12 Super Bowls since.

    Scott Van Pelt 
    Anchor, show host
    ESPN TV and radio

    As a fan, the moment that stands out is John Riggins’ run on fourth down against the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII in 1983. As a Redskins fan, I was fortunate enough to see them win three Super Bowls. But the first time your team wins, it is unlike any other because you wonder if it’s even possible. Also, as a teenager, I suppose I was far less cynical about all of it.

    Dennis Dillon
    Staff writer
    The Sporting News

    The first Super Bowl I covered was XV, in 1981, between the Raiders and Eagles in New Orleans. I was a beat writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and had to write two pieces: a “running” story during the game and a feature on Raiders linebacker Rod Martin, who had three interceptions, after the game.

    When they passed out sack lunches at halftime, I was busy writing. I put it under my seat, thinking I would eat it after I was finished working. When I returned to my hotel room that night, I was famished. I couldn’t wait to bite into my sandwich. Imagine my surprise when I opened my sack lunch: My Globe-Democrat colleague columnist Bob Burnes had inadvertently put the unsmoked half of his cigar in my bag.

    The Sporting News is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company of SportsBusiness Journal.

  • Super Bowl XLIII: A new kind of game

    Dan Rooney
    Bill Bidwill
    Super Bowl XLIII
    Pittsburgh Steelers   Arizona Cardinals
    Dan Rooney Owner/chairman Bill Bidwill
    Art Rooney II President Michael Bidwill
    Art Rooney Jr.
    • Vice President
    Mark Hart
    • Director of Business
    Kevin Colbert
    • Director of Football Operations
    Tony Quatrini
    • Director of Marketing
    Other top executives William Bidwill Jr.
    • Vice President
    Ron Minegar
    • Executive Vice President, COO
    Rod Graves
    • General Manager
    Lisa Manning
    • Vice President of Marketing
    1933 Debut season in NFL 1920
    6 No. of previous Super Bowl appearances 0
    5 No. of 2008 prime-time regular-season appearances 2
    Heinz Field Stadium University of Phoenix Stadium
    2001 Year opened 2006
    20 years, $57 million Terms of naming-rights deal 20 years, $154.5 million
    2.36 million Area population (MSA) 4.18 million
    $32,363 Avg. HH income $49,493
    $126,920 Avg. home price $174,124
    U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, PNC Financial Services Group, H.J. Heinz, Wesco International, Allegheny Technologies Local corporate headquarters Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Avnet, US Airways Group, Allied Waste Industries, Insight Enterprises, PetSmart
    Note: Arizona data for Phoenix MSA. Cardinals debuted in Chicago and later played in St. Louis before moving to Arizona in 1988.
    Research by Brandon McClung
    Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Fortune Global 500,, SBJ/SBD archives

  • The challenge? Making everything fit

    The Super Bowl returns to an urban setting this year after a two-year absence from such sites, and that means Jerry Anderson’s job gets a bit tougher putting all the pieces together for North America’s biggest one-day sporting event.

    Anderson, a senior principal at HOK Sport, has served as the NFL’s chief consultant for setting up the Super Bowl campus and supporting compound since the 1985 game at Stanford Stadium in California. His partner in the effort, builder Noel Lesley, has been by Anderson’s side since the beginning.


    “Super Bowl XIX,” Anderson recalls. “It was supposed to be a small remodel job, but I spent a year and a half with stadium planning, and it turned into game-day operations.”

    This is the fourth Super Bowl in Tampa and the third one Anderson has worked on in the city during his 25 years preparing sites for the big game. It is Tampa’s first Super Bowl since the 2001 terrorist attacks, though, and there have been significant adjustments for the seven games played since that time.

    Starting with the 2002 game, game-day operations have centered on a secure perimeter installed at a minimum of 300 feet from the stadium entrances, created by putting eight-foot fences and concrete barriers around the facility. Crews work throughout the night before the Super Bowl to set up what amounts to a massive fence line surrounding the stadium, something that can be tricky in an urban environment. Before entering the perimeter, everybody, including security employees arriving on the job, must walk through tents where crowd managers pat them down and use magnetometers to check for weapons.

    The last two Super Bowls, in suburbs of Phoenix and Miami, were held at stadiums surrounded by parking lots. That provided ample space for officials to set up shop for the game, the 1.1 million-square-foot NFL Experience and the 350,000-square-foot NFL Tailgate Party for VIPs.

    Two years ago was the first time NFL Experience became part of the Super Bowl site, marking another big change from the last time Tampa played host. Before the 2007 game, the massive interactive attraction was held in the host market’s convention center. With the change, for this year’s Super Bowl, the secure perimeter will extend about 1,000 feet at its farthest from the stadium.

    NBC will house its game-day set in the
    iconic pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.

    “The big difference was the last one in Tampa was prior to 9/11,” Anderson said. “It’s a challenging site because of major roads on the east and west sides of the stadium. We have been very careful planning access with the police department and DOT.”

    Those major thoroughfares and secondary roads to the north and south frame a skinny footprint compared with the Super Bowl sites of the past two years, forcing officials to create new pathways for fans making their way to the stadium, said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.

    That’s especially true for Super Bowl ticket holders heading from north of the stadium in the hours before the game, Supovitz said. It will be a challenge to get them over to the south side, where they need to go through the security screening process before they can access the NFL Experience area.

    NFL Experience is open to the public during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, but fans holding tickets to the game get exclusive access to the space on Sunday.

    In the two years that NFL Experience has been on-site, it has been a big help in terms of evenly distributing crowds, Supovitz said. The attraction opens at 11 a.m., three hours before the stadium gates open at 2 p.m.

    “We have seen between 5,000 and 7,000 people waiting to get into the Experience, which makes life much easier for everyone,” Supovitz said. “They have already cleared security, had their tickets scanned and gone through the patdowns and magnetometers.”

    The host site has an enormous footprint to allow
    for a security perimeter and support events.

    Raymond James Stadium, regular-season home of the Buccaneers, is unique among Super Bowl host stadiums because it contains landings in its four corner ramps that are perfect for supporting 25 temporary booths for international media outlets broadcasting the game. Those flexible areas effectively minimize the number of seats that the NFL “kills” for the Super Bowl due to obstructed views. In a typical year, 1,700 to 2,000 seats are killed for the game. This year, the number will be in the range of 1,400, Anderson said.

    The NFL requires a Super Bowl facility to have 70,000 saleable seats, including suites, and with Raymond James’ capacity of 65,857, it’s the job of Anderson and his staff of 60 to fill every nook and cranny with portable chairs to meet that benchmark. All told, officials say Super Bowl capacity in Tampa should be about 72,000.

    About 6,300 temporary seats will be set up in the end zone plazas, including the north end, where NBC is establishing its game-day set on the pirate ship, the facility’s most recognizable design element.

    To make room for more seats in that end, officials have to tear down part of the Caribbean-themed port town structure on the concourse behind the ship, Supovitz said. It will be rebuilt after the game is over.

    Elsewhere in the stadium, it’s a matter of tucking about 1,000 additional seats into various crevices around the building. “There are always some little seams and cross aisles we can make use of,” Anderson said.

  • Travel plans in works long before teams set

    When the AFC and NFC champions meet in Tampa on Sunday, their berths in the game will be a mere two weeks old, but each organization’s front office has been planning toward the appearance for far longer.

    Not that much was said about it.

    “Everybody knows you have to do it. You just don’t want to talk about it,” said Gary Wright, former Seattle Seahawks vice president of administration. “Whether it’s being superstitious or whatever it is, it’s important that people concentrate on the job of getting to the game, and let us worry about what’s going to happen once we get there.”

    Wright is not alone. Early preparations for a Super Bowl trip have become the rule rather than the exception for NFL teams, with much of it done undercover.

    One executive admitted to traveling incognito to a Super Bowl host city in November to scout out the town, even telling hotel officials he was thinking about holding a convention there. Wright said he did a Super Bowl dry run one year when the Seahawks spent a long week in Jacksonville between regular-season games, taking advantage of the opportunity to set up an auxiliary training room, an equipment room and offices at the hotel.

    Well before players touch down, or even
    win their way into the Super Bowl, team
    executives and travel agencies start
    working out details of the trip.

    All this team-level work serves to complement an organizational system that begins with the league. The playoffs are a league-led venture, and with the Super Bowl being the crown jewel, the NFL directly takes care of many aspects of the Super Bowl trip for the teams.

    The league provides hotels for the players and front-office personnel of both teams, as well as friends and families. The NFL also reserves all necessary facilities for each team, including practice space, weight rooms, meeting rooms and makeshift offices. The league even works with the teams for their postgame parties, hospitality areas and suites.

    It’s Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of events for the NFL, who ensures that all teams are fully prepared for the game logistically.

    “We try to minimize the distractions for the clubs so they’re able to focus on what they are there for, which is a business trip and the playing of the game,” Supovitz said.

    Ahead of Week 17 of the regular season, the league holds a conference call with all teams that are still eligible for the playoffs, going over every aspect of the experience. Teams gain access to an intranet site containing details on the league’s contributions toward everything from hotel rooms to rings. The NFL also provides teams with a manifest of all tickets that will be in their allocation — generally about 17.5 percent of the available tickets in the stadium for each team — allowing teams to have a database of all the ticket locations so they can work ahead and begin planning for distribution both within the organization and to their sponsors.

    Once the conference championship games are set, the next level of planning begins.

    The league invites representatives of the four remaining teams to the Super Bowl host city, where Supovitz leads the teams through tours of the game venue, practice facilities, hotels, meeting rooms and even bus routes. Supovitz and his crew also provide a comprehensive guide outlining rental cars, hotel rooms, meal functions, tickets, parties, hospitality and suites.

    And when the Super Bowl matchup is set, the league meets the teams at the airport when they arrive in the host city and provides at least two staffers to assist with any needs throughout their time there. The NFL staffers aiding the teams report to Bill McConnell, director of event operations for the league, who oversees every aspect of the team experience during their stay, from hotel rooms to locker rooms.

    Representatives of several recent Super Bowl teams praised the NFL’s involvement in the planning process, acknowledging the league’s vast experience in both running the Super Bowl and observing teams’ preparations for the game, but they stressed the importance of the team-level work, as well.

    The staff of the Patriots put in 20-hour
    workdays getting ready for Super Bowl
    XXXVI, but the experience paid off
    when the team planned subsequent
    trips to the big game.

    Lou Imbriano, who led the planning for the New England Patriots ahead of their Super Bowl appearances in 2002, 2004 and 2005, said the league-hosted meeting ahead of the championship games is far too late to begin preparing.

    “If that’s their starting point, they’re way behind the eight ball,” Imbriano said. “There’s no way you can plan for what happens in that week, in the three weeks before an event. As much as the NFL does, if you’re going to take it to the next level, your group has to be prepared. They have to have assignments.”

    Former Seahawks executive Wright, who led the planning process for Seattle’s Super Bowl trip in 2006, echoed the need for advanced planning.

    “Once you realize you’re going to go into the playoffs,” he said, “then you have to start.”

    Beyond planning for their own personnel, friends and families, some teams prepare options for fans traveling to the Super Bowl.

    The Chicago Bears, for example, prepared a packaged travel deal for fans including tickets, airfare and accommodations ahead of their appearance in Super Bowl XLI in 2007. As soon as the team defeated New Orleans in the NFC championship game, the Bears launched a site for fans to purchase the travel plan.

    Similarly, Imbriano said the Patriots put together trips packaging airfare and parties featuring the Black Eyed Peas and Lionel Richie, among other acts. Imbriano, who now serves as president and chief executive of TrinityOne Worldwide, recommended that teams hire an outside company to handle much of the burden, though the Patriots handled their preparations in-house during his tenure as vice president and chief marketing officer.

    Imbriano left the Patriots in 2006 to start TrinityOne, a sports and entertainment marketing firm out of Boston, after working with the team since 1997.

    Ahead of Super Bowl XLI, the Bears started fielding calls in mid-December from travel companies interested in leading their planning efforts, according to Chris Hibbs, senior director of corporate sales and marketing for the team. After the team advanced to the Super Bowl, PrimeSport, the company they selected, arrived at Bears headquarters early the next morning and essentially served as a travel agent for everybody from players to VIPs to ownership. The company also led the team’s fan travel efforts.

    “The travel relationship is probably the biggest one, because if you choose the right company, and there are only a few of them who do it well and do it traditionally year after year with NFL teams, they handle so much of the truly tough planning,” Hibbs said.

    The Seahawks, who boasted several executives who had gained Super Bowl experience with other teams, did not enlist the help of an outside company. But Wright, who gained firsthand experience assisting the NFL for more than 20 Super Bowls in the media center while with Seattle, admitted he might have sought outside help if the team had not had so many experienced personnel.

    “Experience is absolutely tremendous,” said Wright, who left the team in March and now works with Seattle’s MLS expansion Sounders FC as senior vice president of business operations. “It helps so, so much. If you haven’t been in it and been part of it, you think you know what it’s about, but that game is huge, and there are so many aspects to it.”

    Imbriano said previous experience is invaluable, something he learned from the first of the Patriots’ three-in-four-years Super Bowl trips, Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

    “I lived through New Orleans, and there was no way I was going to live that life again, because we were working 20 hours a day, sleeping four, and we were scrambling,” he said. “As well as I think we did, there were a lot of things that fell through the cracks. The Super Bowl is big, so you have to be in line with that in the way you handle yourself and the way you operate.”

    While the logistics are clearly different from year to year with new cities and venues, Wright stressed the importance of developing a plan and applying that blueprint to each individual experience.

    Every Super Bowl has its wrinkles, such as
    Jacksonville’s use of cruise ships for housing.

    “You can’t just say, ‘Well, we’re going to do it exactly the same way as we did in Detroit.’ You have to be able to adjust,” he said. “But if you have a plan, you have to believe in your plan, stick with your plan — and be able to adjust on the fly.”

    Imbriano recalled the league using cruise ships to house people for Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville.

    “[There is] always a new wrinkle no matter what city you go to,” he said.

    But with owners and coaching staffs being the superstitious type, marketing and event officials find themselves conducting their advanced planning under the table lest they provide bulletin-board material for an upcoming opponent.

    “Ownership and the football operations and the coach would’ve had a conniption,” said Imbriano of the extent of his early planning for the Super Bowl.

    He added that while the players and staff can, and should, focus on winning a game, he and his colleagues have their own business to do.

    “It’s the fiduciary responsibility of someone running marketing to understand what needs to be done … in order to generate revenue for your team when you go to a Super Bowl,” he said.

    Hibbs similarly said the Bears parlayed the game into future business successes by reigniting the Chicago fan base.

    “From that respect, it was a big boon to our front-office business,” he said. “But certainly the priority for everybody in the organization was, ‘Let’s make this about winning a football game.’”

    Wright also noted the off-the-field goals compared with what happens once the game itself begins.

    “Everybody that does the planning and everything else, those things are all important,” he said. “But the important thing is winning.”

    Erik Swanson is a staff writer for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.

  • Turnkey Sports Poll: Halftime, hype ... and the Pro Bowl

    Turnkey Sports Poll
    The following are results of the Turnkey Sports Poll taken in January. The survey covered more than 1,100 senior-level sports industry executives spanning professional and college sports.
    What do you usually do during halftime of the Super Bowl?
    Watch the halftime show
    Turn off/down the TV, and socialize with friends/family
    Make a food/drink run
    Switch TV channels and watch something else
    No response/Not sure
    I dont usually watch the Super Bowl
    Has the hype for the Super Bowl gotten too big?
      Jan. 2009 Dec. 2007
    In a year’s time, panelists have changed their tune on the amount of hype the Super Bowl receives.
    Yes 36.40% 54.00%
    No 61.10% 44.20%
    No response/Not sure 2.50% 1.80%
    Do you think it was the right move for the NFL to move the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, starting in 2010?
    Yes 63.60%
    No 30.80%
    No response/Not sure 5.60%
    Note: Results have been rounded.
    Source: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment in conjunction with SportsBusiness Journal. Turnkey Intelligence specializes in research, measurement and lead generation for brands and properties. Visit

  • Turnkey Sports Poll: Halftime, hype ... and the Pro Bowl

    Turnkey Sports Poll
    The following are results of the Turnkey Sports Poll taken in January. The survey covered more than 1,100 senior-level sports industry executives spanning professional and college sports.
    What do you usually do during halftime of the Super Bowl?
    Watch the halftime show
    Turn off/down the TV, and socialize with friends/family
    Make a food/drink run
    Switch TV channels and watch something else
    No response/Not sure
    I dont usually watch the Super Bowl
    Has the hype for the Super Bowl gotten too big?
      Jan. 2009 Dec. 2007
    In a year’s time, panelists have changed their tune on the amount of hype the Super Bowl receives.
    Yes 36.40% 54.00%
    No 61.10% 44.20%
    No response/Not sure 2.50% 1.80%
    Do you think it was the right move for the NFL to move the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, starting in 2010?
    Yes 63.60%
    No 30.80%
    No response/Not sure 5.60%
    Note: Results have been rounded.
    Source: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment in conjunction with SportsBusiness Journal. Turnkey Intelligence specializes in research, measurement and lead generation for brands and properties. Visit

  • Want to bet? You’re not alone

    A representative of the NFL has flipped a coin 42 times before the start of the Super Bowl, and 22 times it has come up tails. Based on that statistic, gamblers will lay down millions of dollars this week that Sunday’s coin toss will be heads.

    Proposition bets have grown so popular that
    money is even wagered on the outcome
    of the opening coin toss.

    “It seems kind of crazy that people would bet on that,” said Richard Gardner, manager of the online sports book at Bodog. “That just reflects how it goes for the Super Bowl. You can bet on anything.”

    Gambling historians trace the popularity of so-called proposition bets to Super Bowl XX, when Chicago rookie defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry pounded the ball and his 300-plus-pound frame into the end zone. Prompted by the pregame assertion of Bears coach Mike Ditka that Perry would not run the ball, casinos posted 20-1 odds that the Fridge would score, attracting so much action that they eventually had to move the line closer to even money.

    Casinos lost big that day, and gamblers’ interest in prop bets exploded.

    Over the last two decades, prop betting has become just as popular as betting on the Super Bowl winner. Side bets can account for up to 10 percent of the daily handle at Bodog, but that can swell to 50 percent or more of all bets made on the Super Bowl.

    Every element of the event, even the length
    of the national anthem, draws bets.

    “Each year, the menu seems to expand based on demand from our guests and wagering public,” said Jason McCormick, director of race and sports at Red Rock’s casino in Las Vegas. His casino had nine pages of prop bets for last year’s game. “They’re looking for action on every play.”

    Las Vegas casinos, which are regulated by a gaming commission and therefore cannot offer lines on bets that are easily influenced, feature competition-based props, like guessing the Super Bowl MVP, first player to score a touchdown or which team will score last. They also offer bettors the chance to parlay statistics and results of an NBA game on Super Bowl Sunday with the football game.

    “We’ll probably do something with LeBron James and his total points and assists with a player that’s in the football game,” McCormick said.

    The wackier wagers are usually found online, where sports books are not regulated as strictly as Las Vegas casinos, so they can offer dozens of other bets, like guessing the newspaper headline in the winning market, or whether or not a streaker will sprint across the field.

    What you won’t find in Vegas
    Prop bets get crazier each year, so why not add a few sports business bets to the growing list? Here are a few we’d like to see among this year’s wagers.
    Combined number of financial and automotive company ads on the NBC telecast
    Over/Under: 4
    Midway through the second quarter, NFL events head Frank Supovitz will have a faster heart rate than either starting quarterback
    Money line: Even
    Super Bowl advertiser whose stock will see the largest increase in value on Feb. 2, the day after the game
    Pepsi: 3/1
    E-Trade Financial: 40/1
    Monster Worldwide: 5/1
    General Electric: 10/1

    Field: 3/2
    PGA Tour exec Ty Votaw, who has seen Bruce Springsteen live nearly 50 times, will watch only the halftime show
    Odds: 4/1
    Movie trailer running during the Super Bowl telecast whose film willmake the most at the box office
    Monsters vs. Aliens (-200)
    Star Trek (+150)
    Angels and Demons (-120)
    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (-130)
    Land of the Lost (+105)
    G.I. Joe (-105)
    — Jon Show

    Bodog offered nearly 300 such props for the 2008 game and expects to have more this year. offered more than 500 scenarios last year.

    In recent years, online sports books have allowed gamblers to bet the over/under on the number of times announcers would mention Peyton Manning even when he wasn’t playing in the game, what color Gatorade would be dumped on the winning coach, or what songs would be performed at halftime.

    Care to wager the over/under on the length of national anthem, to be sung by Jennifer Hudson this year? Prognosticators were certain Billy Joel would take longer than the 1:44 line set before Super Bowl XLI, but he defied the odds and sang one of the faster renditions in Super Bowl history at 1:30.

    Which Super Bowl commercial will have a higher rating on USA Today’s annual Ad Meter? Pepsi ruled the 1990s, but Anheuser-Busch products have won the last 10 years. Stay away from movie trailers.

    The ability to craft outlandish prop bets becomes even more impressive when one considers that many wagers are not set until after the Super Bowl participants are determined two weeks before the big game.

    Shortly before last year’s game, Red Rock created a Brother vs. Brother bet, pitting the Super Bowl quarterbacking stats of Giants quarterback Eli Manning with those of Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning from the previous year.

    Not all of the prop bets are pulled together at the last minute, though. The people at Bodog are already looking forward to the Cowboys’ return to the Super Bowl, especially if Tony Romo and his celebrity girlfriend are still around.

    “What color jersey will Jessica Simpson wear?” proposed Gardner, half-jokingly. “Pink would obviously be the favorite.”

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