This Sunday, the greatest multitude in the history of the United States will be tuning into the same television show at the same time. The 2012 Super Bowl, to be played between two major media markets, the New England Patriots and New York Giants, kicks off at 6:30 pm. This year’s game can also be called, “The East Coast Bias Bowl,” the “ESPN Nocturnal Emission Bowl” or the “Pox on Both Houses Bowl.”
Popularity plus polarization will mean epic ratings. It also means a pox of sponsors branding Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Field within an inch of its life. But while the high rollers will party down and Fortune 500 companies will have an unparalleled audience, the city of Indianapolis will reel under the weight of our national party.
Bloomberg News, which no one will mistake for The Nation, headlined an article, “Super Bowl Lands on Taxpayers’ Backs as Indianapolis Stadium Deal Sours.” Bloomberg describes a state of affairs in Indy where “Super Bowl fans are riding zip lines through downtown” while “taxpayers are digging deeper in their pockets to pay for the stadium where the game will be played.”
They report that local officials have had to hike sales and hospitality taxes to pay off $43 million in “unexpected financing costs.” The Bloomberg article joins a withering piece in the Indianapolis Business Journal about how the local economic impact will be less bonanza than meteor. No amount of extra shifts for waiters and parking lot attendants can match the tax burden they will endure in order to play host. But at least city planners can have that zipline and the “800,000-square-foot exposition” called “The NFL Experience”
This Woodstock for the 1 percent in the state capital has, as we’ve been covering, been coupled with the passage of the anti-union, anti-wage, “right to work” laws by the Republican-dominated Indiana statehouse. It seemed earlier this week that the Occupy movement along with the AFL-CIO and joined by a highly supportive NFL Players Association could translate into a serious show of force right at the gate of the stadium. There have been marches this week through “The NFL Experience” of more than 1,000 people, and today NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke and marched in a 400-person UNITE rally at the city’s main Hyatt Hotel.
This has been welcome, with one person describing it to me as “electrifying,” but the state’s union leaders are also explicitly pulling back from any kind of public showing in front of the stadium or on the Super Bowl grounds this Sunday. Nancy Guyott, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, said today, “The Indiana State AFL-CIO does not plan nor condone any attempts to disrupt the Super Bowl.While we understand the anger and frustration of working Hoosiers’ over the disgraceful passage of the so-called, ‘right to work’ bill, the appropriate outlet will be at the ballot box, not the Super Bowl.” She made clear that no state locals would be participating in any rallies in any kind of official capacity.