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Companies Lining Up for Super Bowl Contracts

Companies Lining Up for Super Bowl Contracts

Local Host Committee ‘Damn Close’ to Meeting The $6 Million Goal It Needs to Put on Big Game

SPORTS

by Mike Allen Senior Staff

Jonathan Martin is one of the lucky ones, a local business owner who will directly benefit from the Super Bowl here Jan. 26.

His company, Southwest Show Tec, has been selected by the National Football League to provide special lighting and other exterior architectural effects for a series of corporate parties during the week before the big game.

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The 12-year-old firm specializes in creating dramatic lighting effects, using state of the art strobe lights and other high-tech equipment. It has a track record with the NFL, having done the last Super Bowl held here in 1998 and the two most recent games , this year’s event in New Orleans and the 2001 game in Tampa Bay.

Martin wouldn’t disclose what the contract is worth, saying some aspects of it are still under negotiation, but allowed it was at least “several hundred thousand dollars.”

“We’ll do about 10 to 12 events for six separate clients,” he said, adding his clients are Fortune 50 corporations that include a major telecom and an athletic apparel manufacturer.

Today, Southwest Show Tec employs about 20 full-time workers, but because of all the additional events happening at the same time, the company will gradually ramp up to between 80 and 100 people, Martin said.

The jobs fall into the broad category of “free-lance creative,” and include lighting electricians, stagehands, technicians and rigging people.

Ky Snyder, president of the San Diego Super Bowl Host Committee, said because the NFL keeps a tight rein on contract information, he was unable to say how many large contracts would go to local vendors.

Mitch Mitchell, vice president with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, heads up the Host Committee’s Emerging Business program set up to reach out to women-owned and minority owner businesses.

To do a better job linking these businesses with NFL sponsors and affiliates, the chamber created a business resource guide and put the data on a CD-ROM. It has some 500 local businesses in about 40 categories.

In the past, similar outreach programs simply produced a big book with the names of the local vendors. In 1998, only 14 companies received contracts, Mitchell said.

“The last time the Super Bowl event was held here, this type of program was hastily put together and when local companies didn’t get any contracts, a firestorm broke out,” he said. “We’ve definitely improved on what happened in 1998.”

So far, 17 local vendors have received Super Bowl contracts, but Mitchell said the biggest contracts for such things as building stages and other services related to corporate parties won’t be signed until late November or early December.

In 1998, a study paid by the NFL found the Super Bowl generated $125 million in direct economic impact. The current event is anticipated to exceed $200 million, according to the local host committee.

However, critics of the event say much of the so-called local spending is actually captured by out-of-town companies who are regular contractors with the NFL.

Mitchell said while such criticism was warranted in the past, the NFL is trying to do a better job in involving local vendors. He said he expects by the end of this month, the number of minority and women-owned contracts should double or triple from the current number.

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Super Bowl Sponsors: Snyder said the local host committee is “getting damn close” to meeting the $6 million goal it needs to put on the event, but declined to reveal any numbers.

The funding is required by the NFL to pay for such things as transportation for teams, media and NFL; all the events and parties; and $1.6 million to install temporary seating to ensure that the game meets the prescribed 70,000 attendance.

The latest sponsors signed by the host committee are Home Depot, the Port of San Diego and New York-based EXP Enterprises, which was described as “a travel incentive company.”

The committee is also lining up companies and organizations as “hospitality partners,” meaning these contributors are not allowed to use the official logo of Super Bowl XXXVII, or can be recognized as an official sponsor, Snyder said.

So far, none of the sponsors are making contributions of less than “six figures,” Snyder said.

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End Run: The folks looking into the possibility of building the Chargers a brand new stadium to keep them from leaving San Diego are getting close to wrapping up their meetings in advance of delivering a report to the City Council on Nov. 15.

Given the nature of the testimony at several meetings so far, don’t look for an endorsement of the Chargers’ wish list, a facility that will certainly top the $450 million cost of the Padres ballpark.

At a meeting Oct. 24, task force members, including chairman David Watson, openly challenged the prospect of having to meet the Chargers’ demands if the team proves its operating costs “trigger” a level that would allow the team to break its contract with the city. The Chargers have a 60-day window starting Dec. 1 to notify the city it has met that trigger.

Watson and other task force members said the 1995 contract to extend the Chargers lease at Qualcomm Stadium to 2020 has plenty of provisions to protect the city, even if the team says the trigger is met. The main hammer would entail tying the matter up in litigation, a strategy that could last for more than a few years, he said.

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Ticket Guarantee: The Chargers’ winning ways hasn’t translated to sellouts at the Q. The most recent home game Nov. 3 against the Jets drew less than 60,000 general admission ticket buyers, causing the city to buy the shortfall , 7,958 tickets , and cost $436,481 at an average price of $54.85, according to the city manager’s office.

Total cost so far this year to the city: $5,598,400. The amount the city has paid out since the ticket guarantee took effect is in excess of $30 million.

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Suite Deal: With the Padres ballpark more than 40 percent completed, the first luxury suite was recently sold to Arrowhead General Insurance Agency Inc. of San Diego last month. Arrowhead’s suite in the first base tower is 595 square feet and holds 20 seats. The price wasn’t revealed but tower suites on both sides of the stadium range from $130,000 to $165,000 annually. The ballpark contains 50 luxury suites.

Send sports business news to

mallen@sdbj.com.

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