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Almost half of the Super Bowl sponsors are Wall Street finance firms who see the investment as a way to boost economic development and tout their own good deeds to a larger audience.
The most expensive stadium in the U.S. drew the Super Bowl to the New York area for the first time. Wall Street is making it happen.
The National Football League’s championship is a home game for the shapers of the nation’s economy, with 11 of 29 host sponsors coming from the financial services industry. The event is costing $70 million to stage, as much as five times last year’s in New Orleans, and companies with revenue of $339 billion last year are paying a big part of the bill.
“Every city is different than New York, really,” said Jay Cicero, head of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, who led the host committee for last year’s game. “In general, a host committee in any city is going to rely on the local business community.”
In New York, the local sponsors read like an Ivy League junior’s internship applications: JPMorgan Chase & Co.; the New York Stock Exchange’s parent IntercontinentalExchange Group Inc.; Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; Morgan Stanley; Citigroup Inc.; BlackRock Inc.; and Bank of America Corp.
Private companies including SAC Capital Advisors LP also helped fund the organizing committee, whose expenses include Super Bowl Boulevard, the 13-block football-themed street festival on Broadway that will operate until the day before the Feb. 2 title game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
Al Kelly, chief executive officer of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, said the financial services industry was among the earliest and most enthusiastic backers of the region’s bid to host the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city. League owners awarded the game to MetLife Stadium in May 2010, four months before the $1.6 billion stadium even hosted its first NFL regular-season game.
“New York is the capital of a lot of things, the capital of commerce and investment,” said Brian Rolapp, executive vice president of NFL media. “That was one of the attractive parts of putting it here.”
In return for their money, the host sponsors received a vice-chairman spot on the committee for an executive to help plan the event, along with one of the more than 200 luxury suites at MetLife Stadium for the game.
Melissa Shuffield, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, said the company worked with the Snowflake Youth Foundation, the host committee’s designated charitable project. It helped start an after-school program at the Boys & Girls Club in Paterson, New Jersey, named “Cruz Control” after Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who hails from that city.
Goldman Sachs views its sponsorship as a way to support economic development in the tri-state area and a chance to trumpet Goldman’s work with the NFL helping minority and women- owned businesses become Super Bowl vendors, said Andrew Williams, a spokesman.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to promote our small business initiative and drive people to participate,” Williams said.
Cicero said the sponsors in New York demonstrate both the wealth and power of the city’s economic base, and the expense of hosting the NFL’s championship game there, spread between two states with a stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, eight miles from Super Bowl Boulevard in Manhattan’s Times Square.
The New York area was able to tap the financial sector more easily than other cities because of an NFL policy: It allows hosts to recruit sponsorships from local businesses who are not official league partners. This year, that meant financial institutions.
While New Orleans had no hope of tapping the kind of money available to the New York-area hosts — its exemption was to the oil and gas industry — the infrastructure in place there from hosting the game a record 10 times ensured a budget of under $15 million, he said.
“It’s not only less expensive to do business here, the fact that we’ve done this 10 times before helps us navigate the event,” Cicero said from New Orleans. “With 20,000 hotel rooms, the French quarter and the Superdome all within a mile radius of each other, expenses are a lot less.”
Indianapolis hosts targeted dozens of smaller businesses to raise the money needed to host the 2011 Super Bowl, said Allison Melangton, president of the Indiana Sports Corp. and the state’s host committee. To show that the city and state could gather the $30 million or so required for their first Super Bowl, organizers solicited donations from 133 Indiana companies of all sizes before even making their bid.
“We had a lot of different industries represented, from the largest companies in the state — from Cummins Engines all the way down to locally based law firms,” she said. “For us it was the right thing to do because the community’s inclusiveness and engagement was part of the reason our Super Bowl was so special.”
Kelly, former president of American Express Co., said few of the financial companies are engaged in traditional sponsorship activities, such as Pepsi turning Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan into a theme park.
“We clearly have an advantage over a place like Indianapolis or New Orleans,” he said. “They don’t have anywhere near the same corporate presence. On the other hand, we have a large geographic footprint that’s difficult to navigate, spanning two states.”
With assistance from Scott Soshnick and Amanda Gordon in New York. Editors: Michael Sillup, Jay Beberman.
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