Super Bowl Sees Much Fewer Volunteers Than Expected, Paid Help Brought In
Super Bowl XLVIII Host Committee President & CEO Al Kelly "estimated that 9,000 residents of the metropolitan area would serve as volunteers" in the days leading up to Sunday's game, which is "far fewer than the 20,000 who were initially contemplated," according to Tom Pedulla of the N.Y. TIMES. This has left the committee "to scramble to cover 80 locations, some with multiple posts." Also, the "feel-good interaction between volunteers and chilled visitors is somewhat overshadowed by current and potential litigation." The NFL opted to "hire temporary paid workers for positions in which volunteers had typically been used." The decision was an "apparent response" to a class-action suit brought by N.Y.-based firm Outten & Golden against MLB, which did "not pay volunteers at the All-Star FanFest at Javits Center in July." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said, "We have hired 1,500 temporary paid staffers who will perform specific functions at NFL events.” The paid help will be used at Super Bowl Boulevard, and will be present at the media center and at "various game-day events." It is "unclear whether such staffing will become part of the cost of doing business." McCarthy said, "We will address future Super Bowls after this one." Outten & Golden attorney Justin Swartz said that the league "might be vulnerable, despite the signing of waivers by volunteers in which they agreed not to be paid." Swartz: "The fact that the NFL is paying some of its workers is laudable, but it also raises the question of why it is not paying all of its workers. The extra steps the NFL is taking to protect itself make me even more suspicious.” Swartz said that his firm "was investigating the league's use of volunteers at recent Super Bowls" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29).