NFL officials and the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee have a contingency plan if a work stoppage postpones the 2012 Super Bowl.
Committee president and CEO Allison Melangton told The Associated Press on Monday that the league wanted Indy's Super Bowl venues and hotel room blocks left open for the weekend of Feb. 5, the scheduled Super Bowl date, and the following weekend. Melangton said Indy has kept both weekends open. IBJ reported the potential impact of the looming dispute early this year.
The NFL Players Association fears team owners will lock out players before next season.
"We are working with the NFL, I'm not going to say every day, but we are working closely on any other plans that need to be made," Melangton said. "But we all know that it is their (the NFL's) priority to resolve these contract issues as soon as possible and we are confident that they will."
The current contract expires March 5, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has said he does not expect a new CBA to be completed until then.
Smith has repeatedly said he believes owners, who opted out of the CBA two years ago, are intent on locking out players because the television networks will continue to pay the owners even if the games are not played.
Melangton said NFL officials also discussed a backup date with Indy's committee during the bidding process. Indy was awarded the game on the same day — May 20, 2008 — that owners opted out of their collective bargaining agreement.
"This is not unusual as local Super Bowl host committees will include in its bid a number of possible dates it could host the Super Bowl," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "As part of its … bid, the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee said it would hold both Feb. 5 and Feb. 12, 2012 as possible dates. We have listed Feb. 5 as the tentative date for the game, but have flexibility to hold it in Indianapolis on Feb. 12."
Melangton said she was told New Orleans, which will host the 2013 game, and New Jersey were also asked for backup dates in case the league expands the regular-season schedule to 17 or 18 games.
The 2014 Super Bowl awarded to the New Jersey Meadowlands has three potential dates: Feb. 2, 9 or 16, with Feb. 2 as the tentative listed date.
League officials, Melangton said, have not given her committee any indication there are plans to use the second Super Bowl date in 2012.
"We've been told by the NFL to proceed full-speed ahead for the 5th, which is what we're doing," she said. "If anything changes we will work with the NFL on whatever the contingency needs to be."
Colts owner Jim Irsay dismissed any suggestion Indy could lose the Super Bowl if a labor stoppage forced the game to be canceled.
"I really feel we will have a Super Bowl, and, hopefully, we can do it as planned," Irsay said. "If not, we've made some plans to give us some flexibility."
Senior NFLPA officials and a high-profile player reached out to the mayor's office in February to express their concerns at how a lockout might impact the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
For more on the uncertainty surrounding the 2012 Super Bowl, check out The Score sports-business blog.