NFL bargains with car sellers

Super Bowl location up in air

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

NEW ORLEANS -- NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and organizers of an auto dealers convention blocking a change in the date of the Super Bowl scheduled talks for Tuesday to resolve the problem.

Tagliabue and National Automobile Dealers Associa-tion president Phillip Brady met Monday in the Washington, D.C., area -- where NADA is based -- and agreed to assign negotiators who will begin meeting Tuesday.

The talks will cover complicated issues ranging from financial compensation to resolving scheduling conflicts for the auto convention's nearly 30,000 participants and 600 vendors.

''We would certainly have to be indemnified by the league'' for the cost of changing convention dates, said David Hyatt, spokesman for NADA. ''There are also some major logistical problems. It's not just dollars and cents.''

NADA's convention currently is scheduled for Feb. 2-5, the weekend after the original Super Bowl date of Jan. 27. But with NFL games pushed back a week in the wake of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the NFL wants to hold the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

Mayor Marc Morial has said the city cannot handle both events simultaneously, and NADA earlier told Tagliabue that it was too late to move its convention. But Tagliabue said Sunday that New Orleans remains the top choice as Super Bowl host, even on Feb. 3.

Hyatt said NADA has not put a precise dollar figure on what it would cost to change dates. The cost of the convention is between $10 million and $15 million, but he said there are other issues, including contracts signed with vendors.

''If there is a way to make this happen, we are going to make it happen,'' Hyatt said. ''The fact remains, we're looking at a logistical nightmare and who knows what kind of liabilities will be incurred. We still have to see what the league can do about those.''

It was not clear Monday how much it would cost the NFL to change the location of the Super Bowl.

In the case no deal can be reached with NADA, the NFL has contacted other cities -- Miami, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles -- to see if they could play host to this year's championship game. If the game were moved, NFL officials have said they would consider holding the league's two conference finals in New Orleans on Jan. 27.

Morial said the city would prefer to keep the Super Bowl, which pumps an estimated $400 million into the area economy, University of New Orleans economist Tim Ryan said.

''We will continue to work to ensure the Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans,'' Morial said. ''We are encouraged by ongoing discussions.''

Hyatt said NADA and Morial had productive discussions on Monday.

''It really wasn't what the mayor said as much as his attitude to do whatever takes to work this out,'' Hyatt said.


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