SBJ/20100517/This Week's News

Ross pushes for handhelds at Super Bowl

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has asked the NFL to make Game Day Vision handheld devices available at all future Super Bowls, sources said.

Ross in December bought Game Day Vision, the company formerly known as Kangaroo TV. He has been making a push to get NFL teams to embrace the venture’s technology, which makes other NFL games, stats, different camera angles and additional data available to fans inside a stadium.

Game Day Vision was in use at this year’s Super Bowl, but that was because the game occurred in Ross’ venue, Sun Life Stadium. More broadly, the technology is part of a push by leagues and companies across sports to find new ways to entertain fans in stadiums during games.

A spokesman for the Dolphins, and one for Game Day Vision, did not respond by deadline for comment. An NFL spokesman declined to comment.

In March, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell estimated that half of the league’s 32 teams had expressed interest in using Game Day Vision. Ross has proposed paying the several-million-dollar per-club cost of setting up the devices.

It’s unclear when the NFL might take up Ross’ proposal, though unlike Ross’ quest to get teams to use the devices, the Super Bowl option would require league approval. The league is meeting in Dallas next week, but the Ross proposal likely would not require a full ownership vote.

The owners will vote next week on a more-pressing Super Bowl matter. At the meeting, owners are widely expected to give the 2014 game to the New York area, making the contest the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl in the game’s history. Tampa and South Florida are also bidding for the game.

The New York region normally would be ineligible to host the game because the average high temperature in February falls well below the 50 degrees Fahrenheit minimum required by the NFL. The league’s Super Bowl advisory committee, however, gave the bid a one-time exception. The game would be played at New Meadowlands Stadium, the newly opened home of the New York Jets and Giants.

The Super Bowl host vote is expected May 25 and will consume much of the meeting. In fact, the league has so little else to formally discuss that it shaved off the half-day Wednesday that normally ends the May meeting, leaving only Tuesday for the gathering. Committee meetings are scheduled for Monday afternoon.

One item not expected to be a big discussion point is, ironically, one of the more-discussed subjects this year: labor. There has been so little progress between the NFL and the players union on reaching a new collective-bargaining agreement, sources said, that the subject was not on the agenda as of late last week.

While time remains before the March expiration of the current CBA, and such negotiations often occur pressed against a deadline, the two sides for the moment have no plans to meet and have not recently exchanged proposals. The NFL’s top outside negotiator, Bob Batterman, was recently quoted in the student newspaper of Hofstra University, a client of his firm, saying, “We are as far apart as I could imagine.” Batterman declined to comment for this story.

The Dallas meeting is the second-to-last owners meeting scheduled before the March expiration, though there are expected to be specially called owners meetings and CBA negotiations before then.

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