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Sports Business

Former foe backs Indy's Super bid

May 20, 2008
Super Bowl site selections can create odd alliances among the 32 wealthy fellows casting the votes. The man who last year single-handedly dismantled Indianapolis’ bid to host the 2011 game came this year to the Circle City’s defense.

With Indianapolis embroiled in a three-way standoff with Houston and Phoenix for the right to host the 2012 Super Bowl, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sided with Indianapolis, league sources said. Jones himself said he "supported the idea of Indianapolis hosting a Super Bowl" at the conclusion of Tuesday's league owners’ meetings.

The secret ballot vote held in Atlanta’s Buckhead district was a lot closer than people anticipated, and Jones’ support was likely critical in Indianapolis’ win. After Houston was eliminated, neither Phoenix nor Indianapolis could secure the 75 percent of the votes needed to win the bid. So they went to a fourth vote, where a simple majority by Indianapolis prevailed.

"There was immense lobbying right until the last minute," said Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. "In the end, Jerry was very supportive."

Last year, Jones and Dallas outgunned Irsay and Indianapolis for the 2011 Super Bowl by offering more luxury suites and cash at the 11th hour to sweeten the deal for the NFL owners. It didn’t hurt that Dallas’ new stadium will hold 100,000 spectators, about 25,000 more than Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium.

"Last year, we just ran into the perfect storm," Irsay said.

This year the storm that is Jerry Jones shifted directions to topple Houston and Phoenix. While Irsay and Jones clearly respect each other, they often find themselves on the opposite side of issues involving revenue sharing. While small market teams often argue for more sharing, their large market brethren argue that they should keep what their investments and hard work bring.

But Jones is an astute businessman who highly values the type of public-private partnership that helped build the Colts’ new $725 million retractable roof stadium.

"He knows those types of deals, where the public part is a significant portion of the funding for a new venue, is an important part of the league’s ongoing financial health," said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports business consultancy SportsCorp Ltd. "Jerry Jones knows a rising tide raises all boats."

It seems on at least this vote for the 2012 Super Bowl, Irsay and Jones were riding the same current.
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