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Super City Free Super Bowl Community Events Go Forward, Sponsorships Lag

City Desk

At the Oct. 27 meeting, the Santa Clara City Council advanced $2 million for the Super City events in the two months leading up to the Super Bowl, and $388,000 for fundraising services from Peggy Kennedy, principal of San Ramon-based Kennedy Event Marketing, to solicit sponsorships cover those costs. The Council approved the Super Community events and budget a year ago, and the plan was that sponsorships would reimburse the City for the up-front costs.

To date, the City has advanced $500,000 for the events, which include: a Snoopy on Ice show featuring Brian Boitano, a commemorative statue, Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit, the “Gridiron Glory” exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art, and a Community Celebration the day before the Super Bowl, Feb. 6, at Santa Clara University.

So far $250,000 in sponsorships have been committed – $50,000 since September. Council Member Teresa O’Neill expressed concern that two months away from the Super Bowl such a small proportion of the anticipated sponsorships had been committed and that performers were not booked for the concert or the Super Community celebration.

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“There may not be any fruit on the tree left,” she said, referring to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee’s high profile fundraising. “We’ve spent a lot of money to hire event planners, and I’m a little surprised that [entertainment] wasn’t nailed down months ago.” O’Neill also pointed out that the Triton Museum was in no position to cover the costs if sponsorship for the Gridiron Glory exhibit didn’t materialize.

O’Neill didn’t object to the community events, even if they cost the City money. However, she wanted it made clear that the City would have to cover the costs if sponsors don’t.

“If for some reason we don’t raise the money, yes, we would backfill,” said City Manager Julio Fuentes. The purpose is ensuring that City residents share in the Super Bowl celebration because most people won’t have tickets to the game itself. “If this is available to all Santa Clarans to attend at no cost, we’re spending money on the people.”

It wasn’t time to give up on sponsorships just yet, said the City Manager. “All of these events, everyone waits until the last minute,” said Fuentes. “We have a company that wants to pick up Gridiron Glory [exhibit] and wants to paint a mural on Tasman [near the stadium]. That would be $700,000.”

“If we do this well, we’re going to have the Super Bowl every four to six years,” said Council Member Dominic Caserta. “Sometimes you’ve got to spend a little money to get money back. I’m very confident. I have no doubts the money will come in.”

Super Community Events Let Everyone Say “I Was at the Super Bowl”

Creating a festival around the Super Bowl is not a unique Santa Clara enterprise. During last year’s the Super Bowl, Phoenix metro area festivals drew “bigger crowds than anybody could have imagined” – including to Glendale Arizona, home to University of Phoenix Stadium – according to a 2015 report by the Seidman Research Institute, Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The Carey School has been studying the economic impacts of “mega events” like the Super Bowl since 1996.

During a nine-day period, the 2015 Super Bowl brought the $720 million in visitor spending in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale, the researchers report. A Verizon-sponsored festival in downtown Phoenix drew an estimated one million, while other events drew numbers in the hundreds of thousands. These events made the 2015 Super Bowl a more egalitarian event, opening it up to the entire community, according researcher ASU Professor Michael Mokwa.

“I was a kid who didn’t get to go to many live sports events growing up,” Mokwa said in a news release about the study. “These kids and their parents are experiencing the Super Bowl in ways they never could have done before. That little kid can say, ‘I went to the Super Bowl’ even if they didn’t go to the game.”

Black & Gold Ball Gets Black & Blue

The Council took no action on a request to allow up-front spending for the Black & Gold Ball, a $250/ticket – $1,000 for VIP tickets – affair to be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. That was because, like the other Santa Clara events tied to the Super Bowl, fundraising was significantly under expectations for the $575,000 event. Only $150,000 in sponsorships has been committed. The intention was for the Ball to not only pay for itself, but support other events as well.

“These kinds of events are about elite people in a closed event,” said O’Neill. “I have no concern about [spending for] community events. The Black &Gold Ball is not about the community. It’s not about returning assets to the community.”

Council Member Lisa Gillmor shared O’Neill’s position. “My issue is the Black & Gold Ball,” not the community events. “I think the time should be spent on raising money for community events; not the Black & Gold Ball.”

“The Black and Gold Ball is about the businesses,” said Assistant City Manager Sheila Tucker. “That’s who bought the tables and that’s who will probably buy the tickets. [Those] who want to celebrate in a high class and high style way.”

This item caused the entire spending approval to stalemate in a 4-2 vote (with Council Member Jerry Marsalli absent), Gillmor and O’Neill opposing. A super-majority, five votes, is needed for spending decisions. Without the Council committing the money, planning for all events would likely grind to a halt. “A problem is our ability to execute agreements,” said City Manager Fuentes. “Even if you don’t want to deal with Black and Gold Ball, we should deal with the other issues.” So the Council approved the other two allocations but took no action on the Ball; which can be brought back for approval in the future.

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