There were so many jaw-dropping factoids in the weekend Star Tribune article revealing what Minneapolis gave away to get the 2018 Super Bowl game that it’s hard to know where to begin. So let’s begin with the conclusion: Politicians either don’t know what’s going on in their own city, or they’re disingenuous in their denials of knowing what’s going on in their own city.
“This is wrong,” former Gov. Arne Carlson said after reading the article. “This is a huge public event. It should be transparent. We should know how the NFL operates.”
This is how the NFL operates. The league wants police protection for nothing, free hotels, great cellphone reception, free parking and free media coverage, among dozens of other perks.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges didn’t know what was in the deal.
“We haven’t seen the bid, so we don’t know what was agreed to,” said Kate Brickman, Hodges’ spokeswoman.
Council president Barb Johnson appeared ready to take on the critics of the secret deal.
“We’re in competition with every other city in the United States for convention visitors,” she said.
So, no big deal? If it’s no big deal, why are politicians and their allies insistent the deal remain secret? Minneapolis has already won the right to host the game.
The secrecy is making some politicians look clueless. In today’s Strib story that the big park around the stadium isn’t going to be available to the public anywhere near as often as was originally claimed, a City Council member sounds a familiar theme.
“It’s kind of like a bait and switch, it seems to me,” said Council Member Cam Gordon. He had approved an earlier deal that the paper describes as “vague.”
The host committee, the group of business titans who made the pitch to the NFL, doesn’t want to talk about the deal. It cites the data privacy law in Minnesota, which allows deals to remain secret until the event occurs or five years later. Early in the process, they said the agreement would be public. They just didn’t say in what decade.
The committee will try to raise private funds to cover many of the expenses. Don’t expect to find out what the contributors get in return for their money, however.
Politicians claim the cost of the event will more than be eclipsed by the goodwill and money that will come to Minneapolis. But we have to take that on faith, since they’re keeping the information that will prove that theory secret.
“I would really like to see a financial analysis of the expense vs revenue for holding the Super Bowl. I’d bet it’s actually a losing proposition for the hosting city,” a commenter on today’s Daily News story says.