The NFL's long and expensive list of demands tied to Minneapolis' bid to host the Super Bowl in 2018 has raised many eyebrows and cast some of the major players in an unflattering light. It's even spawned a new Twitter hashtag.
The Star Tribune obtained a copy of the NFL’s 153-page checklist, which has been kept under wraps by the league, and published it Sunday. It's clear the document's purpose is to have the NFL control nearly every public and private aspect of the event, and to have Minnesota pay for the privilege of hosting the game.
Among the requirements are 35,000 free parking spaces; access to “top quality” golf courses in the summer or fall before the game; free police escorts for NFL owners; free presidential suites at top hotels; portable cellular towers at team hotels, if cellphone signal strength isn’t acceptable; free billboards, free radio ads and free newspaper advertising leading up to the game.
"At no cost to the NFL" is a phrase repeated 150 times in the document, according to YahooSports.com.
The Minneapolis Super Bowl Bid committee responded with a statement saying it did not agree to all the NFL's specifications, but it won't say what exactly it did agree to. The committee also said it has no plans to make the winning bid public.
The committee also said it plans to raise enough money from private sector donors to cover all the costs so taxpayers will not have to foot the bill, adding that it already has $30 million pledged for that purpose. But the committee doesn't plan to disclose any information about the private fundraising, either.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said even she hasn't seen the final bid, so she doesn't know what the city is responsible for, the Star Tribune reported.
Should we be surprised by the demands of the NFL, or the secrecy of the process? MPR News blogger Bob Collins said it's the cost of doing business with the "divas" of the NFL. But, he argues, it doesn't make anybody involved in the process look very good.
Blogger Frank Schwab of YahooSports puts it this way:
The Super Bowl is the biggest event on the American sporting calendar and the NFL has plenty of experience in how to operate the game. But some of the demands seem to be made just because they're the NFL and know they can get away with them, but that's the cost of hosting a Super Bowl.
The story has spawned a lot of activity on Twitter, and even led to a new hashtag, #superbowldemands, where users have been suggesting other things the NFL should demand. Here's a sampling: