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Sports Business

Super Bowl volunteers to get paid

November 19, 2013
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Indianapolis utilized 8,500 volunteers to host the 2012 Super Bowl. Not one of them got a penny for their time and effort.

That might not be the case if Indianapolis wins its bid to host the Super Bowl in 2018 or any other year.

Since the inception of the Super Bowl, there’s been a history of the host committee providing a wide range of volunteers to handle a variety of tasks—all at no charge to the host committee or the league.

But the NFL has been forced to call an audible in terms of using non-paid volunteers as the result of a class-action lawsuit brought against Major League Baseball for not compensating volunteers at its All-Star FanFest in July.

The lawsuit against the MLB has not yet been settled, but the NFL isn’t waiting to adjust its own game plan, deciding instead to hire and pay about 1,500 workers that are deemed essential to hosting the game.

For now it looks like the NFL will pick up the tab for the additional paid employees. That’s good news for host cities as the cost of those additional employees will probably be a low- to mid-level six figure sum.

At the 2014 Super Bowl in New York, the NFL will use staffing agencies to hire workers in the media center and the Super Bowl Village-like attraction known as Super Bowl Boulevard as well as people to provide hosting services at MetLife Stadium on game day and at the league’s pre-game VIP tailgate party, explained Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president of events.

Supovitz added that the changes were being made this year due to complexities in the New York-New Jersey market as well as the pending litigation against MLB.

Despite the addition of the paid workers, New York host committee officials still said they plan to use about 12,000 unpaid volunteers. Those volunteers will be required to sign a waiver which states they will not be a part of a class action lawsuit asking to be paid. The waiver states that if there is a dispute, it has to go through arbitration and not be taken to court or become part of a class-action lawsuit.

So far no one has balked at signing the waiver, said New York host committee officials, and there is no sign that the requirement to sign the waiver will stem the tide of volunteers coming forward.


 

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