Covering the business of the Bowl

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[Detroit] Ford Motor Co. announces a restructuring plan that could mean the loss of 30,000 jobs less than two weeks before the Super Bowl, but the only time you heard the Ford name last week here is when people asked for directions to the stadium.

Me, I took taxis to the parties. Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and at least a dozen others, including one hosted by adult-entertainment giant Vivid Video. My wife asked, "What, Nickelodeon or Kleenex can't host a party?"

And, doing my best Ari Gold from "Entourage," I replied, "I go to the parties where my bosses tell me to go. It's business."

Not that hobnobbing with celebrities isn't work. In my few days here, I interviewed former Oakland Raider Marcus Allen and watched Mick Jagger drop an F-bomb on live TV. And wasn't that Tara Reid at GM's Renaissance Center?

I've been at the Super Bowl four times now, but this is my first trip as a business writer, not a sports journalist. And the difference is stunning when you look at it in dollars and cents.

Sprint, for example, signed a sponsorship deal with the league last year for a whopping $600 million. And then it forked over another $12 million to be the presenting sponsor Sunday of the Rolling Stones' halftime performance.

And check out the lengths some cities go to just to get a Super Bowl, which is estimated to pump $300 million into the Motor City economy. In lobbying the owners, who make the final decision by secret ballot, Tampa organizers gave each an autographed putter from Arnold Palmer. Miami guaranteed all 32 franchise owners the use of a personal yacht that is at least 100 feet in length. Yet another city offered hunting and fishing expeditions.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue downplayed the whole thing. "The perks, some of that was facetious and some of it is real, but I still think what's important about the Super Bowl is the game, the NFL Experience," he said. "Those are the important things, not whether you're quail hunting or bass fishing."

Or celebrity-spotting.

On the Web

For complete coverage of the runup to the Super Bowl, see Adage.com QwikFIND aar34s

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