A rich - very rich - nonprofit and its golden Bowl

Posted: January 30, 2014

The NFL and New Jersey tourism boosters are preaching the gospel of money.

Specifically, they're preaching that the Garden State's first Super Bowl is going to hail money, $550 million, in East Rutherford, Jersey City, and beyond - like Manhattan, which surely doesn't need the money even in the Bill De Blasio new world order.

But why would you believe the NFL or Jersey politicians about anything?

Nine years ago, the league forced folks to head to Jacksonville, the stripper-and-sirloin capital of North Florida, to watch the Patriots beat the Eagles, 24-21, not that we're still bitter. But Sunday's matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will require far fewer fans to travel anywhere.

While the televised Super Bowl is for everyone, the actual Super Bowl is not.

The event is for the very rich, extremely connected, sponsors, broadcast networks, and friends of team owners, the most entitled, thin-skinned, nimble-fingered men imaginable. These people already have places in New York. They don't patronize Montclair motels or Secaucus hoagie shops.

Josh Finkelman of New Brunswick, N.J., filed suit against the NFL, claiming that the measly 1 percent of Super Bowl tickets released in a national lottery to average folk - the event's 1 percent - violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Good luck with that!

Many new stadiums have been underwritten by fans through state and local taxes, including $181.2 million for Lincoln Financial Field. We do so because these entitled, thin-skinned, nimble-fingered men are forever threatening to take their toys elsewhere unless they get subsidies for new sandboxes with additional luxury suites that most of us will never enjoy.

The $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium is the rare venue built solely with private funds, but New Jersey donated valuable land for Giants and Jets training facilities, and allocated $250 million on related infrastructure costs.

As for the oft-repeated claim that the Super Bowl will be super for regional business, the New York Times' Catherine Rampell investigated the "endless repetition of sloppy economic impact numbers" and discovered that the event's greatest beneficiary will be - wait for it - the NFL.

American football may not be the beautiful game, but it remains the planet's most brutally profitable one, earning more than $9 billion in revenue last season.

Improbably, the NFL is also a nonprofit, a tax-exempt trade association. (Baseball abandoned this ruse in 2008.) Its Park Avenue offices feature a reception desk shaped like a silver football. In 2011, commissioner Roger Goodell reaped nearly $30 million in compensation. In his latest contract, Goodell's base salary will eventually double - most likely because he has vowed that, by 2027, the NFL will yield $25 billion.

The revenue will be achieved largely through lucrative broadcast rights that will be passed along to you, the non-luxury-suite consumer.

In an effort to end the NFL's nifty tax break, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma introduced the Properly Reducing Overexemptions for Sports Act, which sounds like something out of dystopian fiction. He's still looking for cosponsors, possibly because the NFL spends millions lobbying and supporting politicians.

Also, because these are the same people who tend to be in luxury suites with the most entitled, thin-skinned, nimble-fingered men imaginable. We should point out that Oklahoma does not have an NFL franchise.

The best thing about this Super Bowl is that it will force the pampered and privileged to actually visit New Jersey, possibly in buses due to dedicated lanes and traffic, a state specialty and, of late, an act of political retribution so audacious as to make the mob weep in admiration.

The second-best thing about this Super Bowl is that it will be played the way the gods and Vince Lombardi intended, outside in frigid temperatures, a condition unknown to the pampered and privileged, not all of whom can be sheltered in one of the stadium's 220 luxury suites.

Alas, it does not appear that the highly profitable NFL will shed its nonprofit status any time soon. Coburn recently announced plans to retire and with it, one assumes, the Properly Reducing Overexemptions for Sports Act.


kheller@phillynews.com

215-854-2586 @kheller

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