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The NFL Had a Bunch of Secret Requests for Super Bowl Host Cities

The Star Tribune has a great piece on the Super Bowl LII bid that the Twin Cities put together and what the NFL demanded of the various bid groups before they could truthfully compete for the right to host the Super Bowl.

Before listing what the NFL required of the host committee, a few things should be noted:

  • The host committee only agreed to accommodate a “majority” of the demands
  • US Bancorp will pay $30 million of the cost of the accommodations that would normally be public costs
  • The host committee believes that the whole of the cost of these accommodations will be met privately, at no cost to the city
  • It’s still kind of shady because the city did not see the demands that the host committee agreed to
  • My guess is that the city will likely be in talks with the host committee to determine what they will and will not accommodate
  • What they end up agreeing to will likely end up being exactly the same as what they would have agreed to if they could have seen the demands
  • I still don’t like it because the city should, as a rule, see what is being agreed to on their behalf

The Star Tribune has the entire set of demands listed on the article linked (if you’ve hit your limit on articles viewed, just view the article in “privacy mode”), but the demands are 150+ pages. Instead, you can look below at what the Strib ID’d as the most interesting requirements.


  • free access to three “top quality” golf courses during the summer or fall before the Super Bowl
  • an “NFL house” that is in some respect “high-end” hospitality where the NFL’s “most valued and influential guests to meet, unwind, network and conduct business”
  • free curbside parking to that house
  • “high-level management” at local airports to “cooperate with those needing special services” (team charters, etc.)
  • “clean zones” within one mile of the stadium and within six blocks of the NFL house

Those clean zones are detailed on page 66 of their document, and start the week prior to the game and last until the Tuesday after the game. They will restrict temporary advertising (banners, etc.), temporary structures and inflatables, and new sales permits. All activity of that type (and possibly other types) will be permitted only with consultation with the NFL.

The NFL also asked the city (or relevant parties) to provide and pay for (or waive fees for) the following:

  • multiple city officers on an anti-counterfeit task force (tickets and merchandise)
  • government licensing fees for 450 courtesy cars and buses
  • 20 billboards in “NFL designated areas”
  • turf replacement, should it be required, in order to put the NFL and relevant team logos on the field
  • a one year subscription for the hotels the teams are staying in to the NFL Network
  • portable cell towers if reception isn’t good enough at those hotels
  • 35,000 parking spaces for those hotels and surrounding areas
  • ATMs in the stadium that accept “NFL preferred credit and debit cards” along with covering up those that conflict with “NFL preferred payment services)
  • two “top quality” bowling venues for the Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic
  • local media coverage, like 20 free pages of free newspaper space, four weeks of free promotions on local radio of 250 ads, etc.

From the Star Tribune regarding the legality of this sort of thing being confidential:

An attorney for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority — the public agency that oversees the new Vikings stadium — said that it and the host committee are allowed to keep the data private under state law. State statute allows the authority to keep private “a letter or other documentation from any person” wanting to use public facilities like the new Vikings stadium, along with the response from the authority.

The law adds that the data can be made public when the event takes place, or five years after a contract is signed to hold the event.

Jay Lindgren, an attorney for the sports facilities authority, said the statute gives officials the legal footing to withhold the information.

One of the conditions we know ahead of time that the city has not agreed to are the exclusive right to select vendors to sell Super Bowl merchandise at local airports and the unrestricted ability to put kiosks in multiple spots at the airports.

I would not be surprised to see most of these requirements met through private donations (i.e. local bowling venues donating their venue so they can be seen or national cell phone companies donating the local cell towers with their names emblazoned on them) but I still don’t like that the city needed to make accommodations without knowing what they agreed to.

Many of them are expected and many of them are reasonable, but there are enough unexpected and unreasonable requests that rub me the wrong way—for example, police escorts make sense, but I’m not sure they make sense for the owners. A high degree of tax exemption makes sense, but all NFL properties seem completely exempt from all taxes (including payroll?). This likely won’t cut too much into city revenue as almost all of it comes from visitors and customers, but it’s interesting that the NFL (and any through-taxes from vendors) will not have to pay any local or state taxes at all.

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  1. This is how billionaires stay billionaires. They don’t spend their money on your stuff (hotels, rental cars, golf), but it will cost you thousands if you want to go to the Super Bowl; the money only goes one direction.

  2. Arif, we agree on something! I think it’s ridiculous that the NFL is making these demands but they get away with it because of demand, if Minneapolis said no to this list I’m sure 31 other cities would jump on it.