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Is NFL Thrifty or Cheap? N.J. Super Bowl Needs a Few Good Men and Women to Volunteer

NFLBY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

The National Football League has access to billions of dollars annually. The 31 individual team owners and the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors recently gave the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, a $30 million or so bonus for a job well done. Cities are throwing money at NFL owners, or at least trying to make them happy. The latest elated baron is the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, who probably secured more than a half a billion dollars in taxpayers subsidies from grateful politicians in the Georgia city who seemingly realized whatever argument Blank gave them for wanting public money to replace a publicly financed 1990s state of the art Atlanta domed stadium which was deemed inadequate after two decades of operation.

This is a business flushed with money that won concessions from the Santa Clara, Calif. local government in forms of tax breaks in the event the league decides to hold the Super Bowl in that city once the San Francisco 49ers franchise starts playing in a public-privately built new facility in 2014 in the city. Santa Clara's financial component in the stadium is rather sizeable.

The NFL now hands out Super Bowls to deserving cities. What is a deserving city or area?  For starters, not Miami –- the stadium that is woefully inadequate, it needed a canopy to protect "fans" or should that be "customers" from the September sun and probably all kinds of gadgets like floor courts and other revenue generators. The NFL will not give Miami another Super Bowl unless local residents pay the league off and provide funding for a quarter of a billion Dolphins' home improvement. Local voters better say yes to owner (New York real estate tycoon) Stephen Ross or he won't get another Super Bowl or worse yet he can threaten to move his team say to Los Angeles.

That threat worked for New Jersey's Ziggy Wilf who finally got funding for his Minnesota Vikings from state officials to build a new stadium.

Also out of the Super Bowl rotation is San Diego for the same reasons Ross won't get a Super Bowl. A woefully inadequate stadium.

But East Rutherford, N.J. is in because the NFL liked the fact New Jersey helped finance the new Meadowlands Giants-Jets stadium with some $300 for infrastructure---the Meadowlands looks the same today with a new stadium as it did with the departed Giants Stadium---and making sure the Giants-Jets property tax rate was about a tenth of what it should be.

You have to take one for the team if you are a taxpayer.

So East Rutherford has the February 2014 Super Bowl and the Super Bowl Committee is looking for a few good men and women to make this the best Super Bowl ever. They are looking for volunteers, maybe as many as 20,000 and in exchange for up to 10 hours of "work", the volunteers will receive a uniform, a pat on the head, a thank you and told they can now watch the Super Bowl on television.

No pay, no chance at a ticket just doing something good for the community, rather the NFL.

According to nynjsuperbowl.com, the game is being played in New Jersey but this is clearly a New York City Super Bowl, there is a good reason you should volunteer.

"You'll make the first impressions on visitors as they arrive and as you know, first impressions matter. This is the first time the Super Bowl has been held in this region and we want to show New York and New Jersey in the best light. Volunteers will make the difference; you'll help make the visitors feel welcome. Join the world's biggest huddle!

"Volunteers will greet visitors at airports, trains, and hotels as well as performing other crucial roles in the area."

That's good to know but how about getting paid? Being in a big huddle is all well and good but it won't pay for fast food at the airport.

"You'll make the first impressions on visitors as they arrive and as you know, first impressions matter. This is the first time the Super Bowl has been held in this region and we want to show New York and New Jersey in the best light. Volunteers will make the difference; you'll help make the visitors feel welcome. Join the world's biggest huddle!

"Volunteers will greet visitors at airports, trains, and hotels as well as performing other crucial roles in the area."

Santa Claus will be enjoying warm weather somewhere on vacation and not be on the streets in the New York winter. So there are replacement Santas in February. All well and good but show me the money.

But the Super Bowl committee does know how to tug on football fan's heartstrings. Who needs money when you have love of football, of community?

"Receive a volunteer uniform that will be yours to keep. Know that you made a difference in how the world views New York and New Jersey.

"Volunteers will not receive tickets to the Super Bowl."

What is the old saying? A woman loves a man in a uniform. So that's the hook. The volunteer gets a uniform to keep.

The NFL is awash in money. Teams are giving eight figure guarantees to free agents. Doing some math, 20,000 volunteers "working" 10 hours making $10 an hour would cost the NFL $2 million. They league gave the commissioner according to stories 15 times that amount. But football fans will take one for the team, TEAM New York (and New Jersey) because you got to do it for the team. Meanwhile the team owners, the 31 NFL club owners and the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors will be making money on the event. The sports adage will also kick in, look at the economic impact. Look at all the publicity New York is receiving.

No offense to a city like Perth, Australia and other smaller metropolitan areas globally, but when last check in worldwide awareness of cities, New York City is a known quantity. People come to New York and visit on a regular basis. Getting a uniform in exchange for being a New York volunteer ambassador is cheesy when you are fronting for a business worth billions.

But the NFL has no shame, nor do the civic leaders--in this case some of the richest people in the world---who are touting the New York (and New Jersey) Super Bowl. The volunteers cannot be just anyone. Check out the requirements on the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl website.

"Be at least 18 years of age as of November 1, 2013.

"Volunteers must be available to work a minimum of 2 shifts (3-4 hours each) for the volunteer assignment they choose. More detail on volunteer activities will be available soon.

"Register with accurate information and undergo a background check prior to the Super Bowl. Standard background check will be at the expense of the Super Bowl Host Committee. Your information will not be used for any other purpose.

"Volunteers will be able to select opportunities in either New York or New Jersey locations."

Are the people accepting the assignment "volunteers" or "workers?" How do you know the standard background check will be limited to just the Super Bowl selection committee?

All of this for a uniform?

Pay for the workers. The NFL certainly has two million dollars to spend. They have waste money on draft picks who don't pan out. But it is football, and there is a love between the fan and his or her team or sport. So you don't get paid for standing in Times Square in the cold The face painters, the sports talk radio callers, the ESPN SportsCenter crowd probably think this is a great opportunity. It's not but it is sports, fans get the short end of the stick always. The volunteers will get a uniform.

The host sponsors for the Super Bowl include, Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, Citi, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, NYSE Euronext. The volunteers will be helping big money, along with other major companies. Corporations who have means. But that probably means nothing to the true believers, the fans.

After all, the fans who become volunteers are "United to Make History".

Evan Weiner can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . His e-book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at www.bickley.com and Amazon.com and another e-book, America's Passion: How a Coal Miner's Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century is available at www.smashwords.com, iTunes, nook, kobo, Sony reader and Diesel.

 
Comments (1)
1 Thursday, 28 March 2013 08:59
JAZZ
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