Owners meeting in Miami critical for 2012 Super Bowl

February 3, 2010
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I’d be stunned if members of Indianapolis’ Super Bowl host committee contingency down in Miami this week don’t have Saturday circled on their calendars.
It’s the most important day this week for the Circle City. The results of Saturday’s happenings will have a bigger impact on the local economy than anything that happens Sunday.

I know, the game is on Sunday. But an NFL owners meeting is being held Saturday. And in the hours preceding that meeting a group of owners (the labor committee) is meeting with the players’ union.

Despite assurances coming at every turn from local host committee CEO Allison Melangton and Chairman Mark Miles, they’re well aware how serious this situation is.
If NFL owners and players can’t begin to thaw their frosty relations in the next two months, the 2011 season and 2012 Super Bowl—set to be held in Lucas Oil Stadium—are in grave danger.

If a collective bargaining agreement isn’t hammered out by March 5, the 2010 season will be played without a salary cap. That also means there’s no minimum player payroll owners must maintain.

It’s true, players and owners have until March of next year to save the 2011 season (and 2012 Super Bowl). But the misnomer that there’s plenty of time, just isn’t true.
And there are two recent signs that indicate we’re in for a drawn-out fight.

It’s not just as simple as ironing out an agreement between players and owners. There are some serious skirmishes breaking out among owners, especially of the large-market vs. small-market variety.
Consider this; In recent months, some owners sought to unilaterally dismantle its supplemental revenue sharing program, a pool of $200 million divided among the eight to 12 lowest revenue generating teams. The logic is that without a salary cap, certain stipulations for revenue sharing go out the window. That shows some owners are ready to pull the rug out from under small-market teams, and yes that includes your Indianapolis Colts.

Despite the Colts’ recent stellar on-field performance, the team is not the Richie Rich of the NFL. The players are fighting this move in court, because they understand that no revenue sharing means teams in Indianapolis and Cincinnati simply can’t afford to pay as much as those in New York and Chicago—certainly not long term. And that ultimately shrinks the market for big-money players.

There’s one more very ominous sign. Bob Batterman is on the scene. Who, you ask, is Bob Batterman? Local host committee members should have his bio by now.

Batterman is a menacing figure in the world of sports labor negotiations. The owners’ decision to hire Batterman, a partner in the powerful New York law firm Proskauer Rose, as outside counsel is a clear warning that owners are ready to wage a long, hard war with the players.

Batterman represents the National Hockey League and presided over negotiations when the NHL became the first North American sports league to sacrifice an entire season, boldly locking out the players for the duration in 2004-05.
When a gun slinger like Batterman enters the room, people take notice, or at least they should.
The NFL may not want to talk about a possible 2011 lockout, but it’s time for officials in Mayor Greg Ballard’s office and those with the local Super Bowl host committee to start asking pointed questions.

Like what happens if the season gets delayed, shortened or scrapped altogether? Is there a contingency plan to get Indy back to the front of the Super Bowl line or to help this city and its corporate partners—not to mention volunteers—recoup some of the time, energy and money that’s put into to hosting this event if it doesn’t happen.

There’s been an awful lot of time and money siphoned out of the local community toward putting this event on. And with an estimated economic impact near $400 million—not to mention a boatload of positive publicity for Indianapolis, it’s well worth it.

And I understand the need to continue on the course of planning for the event. But acting like these ominous signs don’t exist—and not planning for all possible scenarios—is like asking Peyton Manning to stop reading defenses and just hurl the ball down field to see what happens.

  • I have always wondered if this is why Jerry Jones and the Cowboys jumped ahead of us in the 2011 SB spot. That way he was guaranteed an SB that would not labor issues.

    I would hope the NFL would bump us into the next available SB spot. The best way would be to push everything back a year, but that would be difficult since other cities are prepping for theirs.
  • solid Jerry Jones theory
    I think that's a solid theory, a grade 1 big-market booster, Jones certainly would have had the insight that those in Indianapolis seem to lack.
    • NFL
      Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the greediest of them all? Remains to be seen, but greed is what drives this issue. Forget the fans, the little guy workers, the businesses that depend upon the sports franchises for business, the way things are on an upbeat. Nah, fagetaboudit. We'll make 'em see things our way.

      Professional sports will be ruined by greed = NFL, NBA, neckcar, you name it. This is the tip of the iceberg.

      Fans won't forget!
    • No Season Tickets
      If there's a lock-out, I will NEVER buy season tickets again. High School football looks more and more like the last real game.
    • no lack of insight
      In the bidding process, the finalist bidding cities get one last 15-minute presentation to make their case. In the deciding moments for the 2011 game, Jerry Jones bribed the other owners at the last second with a fully furnished luxury suite -- each -- for the game. Bring all your family and friends, ol' Jerry's treating.

      Wayne Huizenga bribed them all with a week's use of his giant yacht, complete with crew, to get the game back to Miami.

      What hedonistic luxury item did we have to offer as a bribe? A sports facility for kids at Tech High School. Looks to me like our committee has done brilliantly with what it had available.

      I used to work for the Colts, so I know how this works.
    • I wonder
      Jonesy, I'm wondering if you were one of the Colts employees that was layed off last year. Boy, I bet if you were, you'd be pretty upset that less than 12 months after you were fired, Jim Irsay is paying to haul the entire front office to Miami for a great big old party. What economic crisis? Last year's layoff was nothing more than a PR stunt to make the Indianapolis community think the team was hurting financially, when in fact it never was ... and still refused to help the ICVA or with the stadium problem in the least.
    • I'm not worried
      The NFL would almost certainly grant Indy one of the next available years for a Super Bowl if the 2012 one does not happen. They would have no interest in the massive bad publicity for the league not honoring their commitment would generate. Plus, Irsay has enough pull in the NFL ownership club that I'm not fearful of this happening. The bigger concern to me is that we get a "tarnished" Super Bowl with a lockout for a long portion of the season, etc. where somehow that season and it's playoffs are considered diminished. Really though, I think when push to shove the NFL and it's players will come to terms. They have the best current business model in pro sports and deviating from that significantly would be silly.

      If the 2012 Super Bowl doesn't happen I'm more concerned about it costing Peyton and the Colts one of their remaining shots at winning another Super Bowl than I am about Indy getting completely hosed over by the league.

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