The NFL is more focused on the wants of its owners and corporate clients than the general fandom of football. Nothing underlines this more clearly than the annual bacchanal for the wealthy which is the Super Bowl.
The problems begin with the NFL championship game’s location. Unlike in other sports, there is no home field advantage for either of the teams participating in the Super Bowl. It could theoretically occur, since the location of the annual NFL championship game is determined years in advance, but so far the closest it’s come is one of the teams playing in their home state, and that’s only occurred five times out of the 49 games so far. Football fans from across the world – over 114-million U.S. viewers for this past Super Bowl – tune in every year to see who will raise the Lombardi trophy.
The biggest evidence for this is the list of requirements the NFL demands of any city that wants to host the Super Bowl, which according to SB Nation were leaked back in June. Here is what they reported the NFL requires of the host city:
• Free police escorts for team owners
• Use of Presidential suites at the city’s top hotels at no-cost
• 35,000 free parking spaces
• All revenue from ticket sales to the game
• Free curbside parking at the NFL House, a “high-end, exclusive drop-in hospitality facility for our most valued and influential guests to meet, unwind, network and conduct business.”
• Local police dedicated to anti-counterfeit enforcement, provided at no cost
• Installation of ATM machines at the stadium that accept NFL preferred credit and debit cards, along with the removal of ATMs that “conflict with preferred payment services.”
• Two top quality bowling venues for an NFL celebrity bowling event
• Portable cell phone towers
• Free promotional space from local newspapers and radio stations for the “NFL Experience” in the month before the game
• Creation of “clean zones” around the stadium and the hotel for NFL execs that prevent “certain activities” as well as suspend new and existing permits for those activities
• Free access to three top golf courses in the months before the game
• Exemption from state, county and municipal taxes
Essentially, the NFL wants exclusive access to many of the host city’s amenities, and all at the expense of the city instead of the league or the team owners who make up some of the wealthiest people in the world. The host cities already spend tons of money preparing for the event with the hopes that spending will bring a bigger financial gain, but all these added costs, incurred for people who can easily afford it, just tax city resources more.
This year the game was held in Glendale, Arizona, and the last two times they hosted the Super Bowl the city actually lost money, according to ESPN.
The demands on the arena and game conditions mean that many cities will never get to host the Super Bowl unless they make radical changes to their current stadium, or build a new one. Exceptions to these rules have been made in the past — in 2014, the Super Bowl was held in New Jersey in a stadium without a dome — but those exceptions are few and far between.
It seems like the NFL just peppers in a few Phoenix’s and Glendales in between its clear favourite locations for the Super Bowl: Miami, New Orleans and a few cities in California. Miami and its surrounding area have hosted the Super Bowl 10 times, as has New Orleans, and California has hosted 12 Super Bowls spread amongst San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Next year’s Super Bowl will be held in Santa Clara, California, which will mean those locations will have hosted 33 of the first 50 Super Bowls.
The Super Bowl seems to be more about pandering to its wealthy attendees and corporate clients than providing a great game to the fans. The games are limited almost exclusively to the southern states so that the millionaires who are able to afford the ridiculous ticket prices don’t have to sit in the cold.
It’s the everyday fans who buy the tickets, jerseys and all sorts of other absurd merchandise year after year, and when their favourite team finally makes it to the championship game, the teams are sent to play on the other side of the country. And after all the owners, players, sponsors, celebrities and their friends and families have their tickets, what’s left can be given to the few fans who can afford the travel and thousands of dollars for a seat.