Arizona edged out Tampa to host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. Mike Kennedy, chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, talks about the state’s winning campaign to bring the big game back to Arizona for the second time in seven years.
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The valley has everything needed for a good Super Bowl site -- great weather, it's a tourist destination, and it has a top-notch stadium. But what other factors led NFL owners to award the 2015 Super Bowl to Arizona? Here now to tell us about what was reportedly a very tight race for the big game is Mike Kennedy, Arizona's super bowl host committee chairman. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. And congratulations by the way.
Mike Kennedy: Thanks, Ted. Yesterday was a great day for Arizona.
Ted Simons: Was it a good day for you too? Were you surprised? Was it as tight as we keep hearing?
Mike Kennedy: It was a very tight race. Tampa, formidable opponent, a lot of experience, beaches, ocean, proximity to the eastern clubs when it comes to voting, easy access. It was really tight.
Ted Simons: Before we find out how Arizona fought that and won, what does -- in terms of competing bids, what does the NFL look for?
Mike Kennedy: Well, the NFL puts out specifications that you must meet, or try to meet, at least indicate where you're not going to meet them. That's the first step. As you might expect, they've had 45 of these games, and each year they seem to tighten up those specification as little more, and each year it seems to cost a little more. But to your question about what happened the last couple days, once you get through that process, presentations are made to the owners, the owners vote, there are 32 owners, the owners are the ones that vote. I made our presentation yesterday, 15-minute presentation with a five-minute video, Tampa made their presentation, and then owners from each of the two cities had a five-minute rebuttal. So Michael Bidwell made the rebuttal on our behalf. And then they vote. And I kind of see my role yesterday as kind of the undercard, because the decision is a function of whether Michael Bidwell was able to accumulate 17 votes, and he was able to do that.
Ted Simons: We don't hear much about that. The owner is a major player here and a major player long before probably the vote is even taken.
Mike Kennedy: Well, it's a huge advantage and benefit that we have in that regard. The Bidwell family is very well regard and respected among the owners, and this was kind of Michael's maiden voyage, his dad wasn't there yesterday, even though his presence was felt, and known. But it was a big step for Michael, and he was able to deliver it for our community.
Ted Simons: Since the last Super Bowl, we got light rail, we've got a bunch more hotel rooms in downtown Phoenix, more restaurants in downtown Phoenix, I'm using the word downtown Phoenix because it sounds like downtown Phoenix will be a much bigger player than it was in 2008.
Mike Kennedy: It's even more important than that. In 2008 you'll remember that there were construction blockades, it was basically a construction zone downtown that spawned the benefits that we were able to tout yesterday. And it was a huge part of our bid. 1500 more hotel rooms, the convention center is triple the size, we have a cityscape, nightclubs, I think -- I was impressed with this number, we have 32 four and five-star hotels in the valley, not just Phoenix, and 22 four or five-star restaurants. So we talked about our hotels being in close proximity to get to the 19,000 hotel room requirement of the bid specs, we knew that Tampa had to go over toward Orlando. So we emphasized the fact we were compact and close together with regard to our hotel requirement.
Ted Simons: That's an interesting emphasis. If there was any concern, and boy, that 2008 seemed like it was roundly lauded as a great experience for all concerned, but there was some concern that things were too spread out. Scottsdale here, Tempe here, Glendale here. Is that going to change?
Mike Kennedy: Well, yes. It is. And it was a concern. I did take -- despite that concern I did take yesterday's vote as a bit of a validation that 2008 was well regarded by the owners and the staff as a success. But it is going to change, and we emphasize that we would be Glendale game related activities, of course, and NFL experience which set a record for attendance in 2008. But we would be drawing upon the tourism infrastructure that now exists in a downtown Phoenix, and also Scottsdale, and perhaps to a little more extent Tempe.
Ted Simons: How is Scottsdale and Tempe taking it, how is Glendale taking it? Glendale is concerned they're paying all this money for infrastructure, security, and these things, and not getting immediate benefits. Talk about that.
Mike Kennedy: Well, I see that as one of my challenges is to try to figure out a way, and there are different ways to do this, but Texas, for example, has some legislation that tries to provide some equilibrium between cost and invested and benefits received. So there's an educational process to make sure everybody is being up front in terms of disclosure of real benefits that they received, and real cost, and then we got to try to find a way to equitably allocate those.
Ted Simons: Are you concerned about west gate?
Mike Kennedy: Not really. I mean, it's an issue today, it didn't come up in the bidding process at all, and I guess the reason I don't consider it an issue is that I think whatever is going to happen is going to be resolved by 2015.
Ted Simons: For those, I think I have asked you this question before. For those who say that traffic is a mess, the out of towners are all over the place, getting into everything, causing grief and all this business, and Glendale is saying we're not making money off this, now Tempe and Scottsdale may be concerned they're going to lose -- why is this such a big deal for Arizona?
Mike Kennedy: You have to start with the economic impact. For 2008, W.P. Carey School of Business did an economic impact study and it was over $500 million. That's why the bidding process is so competitive. This is a large, large economic engine, and there's really nothing comparable that would be available to Arizona. I happen to subscribe to the school that we see working I think right now in the city of Detroit. You can't pick up a publication without reading about the resurgence of Detroit. A lot of people attribute it to the attitude and pride that people are feeling as a result of their sports teams. The lions and the tigers. And we experience that in 2008. The communities, despite their differences, communities ultimately, and we had those in 2008 as well, but ultimately you pull together, two and two equals five, you're better, you have a sense of pride, people feel good about themselves, and people really feel good when it comes off well and we have a great game like we did in 2008, and we get the accolades we did after the game. So I think there's an economic benefit, and then there are the emotional intangible benefits that in my mind are almost as important.
Ted Simons: Again, congratulations, and good luck now for the next few years as you -- as a city and everyone gets ready for what should be, unless the NFL tanks and does something dumb like the NBA, I'm guessing it's going to be another wild affair.
Mike Kennedy: I think it will be. It's going to be a good run, has been a good run. Thank you very much.
Ted Simons: You bet. Thank you.
Mike Kennedy :Chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee