Locally, we’re still in a bit of post-game Euphoria. We had scores of visitors from the Northern states places escaping the brutal grasp of winter cold while energetically supporting their home teams. Sea planes full of CEOs were flying overhead to scope available land and probably the abundance of golf. Downtown workers used more profanity during their commutes as they battled the detours.
Being selected to host the Super Bowl was euphoric on its own. The game was good albeit a blow for Seahawks fans. Katy Perry’s family friendly half-time show was superb and replete with dancing sharks (?!). Between commercials viewers got a glimpse of the Arizona crown jewel, our Grand Canyon. The statements about the economic benefits to AZ from the Bowl games and other events cannot be denied and should definitely be acknowledged and celebrated.
Yet, a recent New York Times article hit on something that merits further consideration. The article asks the question that beyond the Grand Canyon vistas or a downtown climbing wall modeled to look like the Grand Canyon, what would have caused you to know it wasn’t Cincinnati or Dallas or Denver or Atlanta? In other words, although the Superbowl was in Arizona, where was the Arizona in the Superbowl?
Not intending a rant on the NFL, I want to ask the question, “what structures are put in place causing every super bowl to be super dominated by national chains?” Sponsorships and expensive ones at that. Of course, they do require the local Superbowl committee to carve out and fundraise for local philanthropic efforts which although referred to by many as simply a diversion of funds, does, in fact benefit many locally based non-profits.
Could the call to action be a recognition that in order to put “Place” into the equation, the NFL or PGA or NCAA or MLB need to advance their models to be inclusive of local businesses as well? What if our local independent restaurants had received a schedule of events with suggestions about how to maximize their own opportunities; when to secure additional parking, decor, ideas for menu and drink promotions, and ideas about ways to collaborate with other locals? Envision going to a local pub for a drink special that comes with an opportunity to have your favorite player’s number shaved into your head by the barber next door? What type of ultimate AZ experience could be crafted that not only showed off a terrific independent hotel but that wrapped in our exciting local music scene and a traipse through the Desert Botanical Garden or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West?
Of course, the issue is that the sponsorship dollars fall behind the national brands and that is not unique to sports but as we call for other changes in national sports behaviors, perhaps this is one that could have a lasting impact. I envision hosting a future sporting event with abundant opportunities for our locally owned establishments to participate and for visitors to recognize and enjoy that our diverse and welcoming state has a story beyond cow skulls and golf. We want to put the Arizona into the event and we’re open for business!