They’re wealthy men and women, most of them billionaires, who have gained membership in one of sports’ most prestigious fraternities — the NFL owners club.
As such, they’re not likely to make a major decision solely on the basis of a well-polished ad campaign.
And yet those making the pitches for New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis — the finalists for Super Bowl LII in 2018 — are well aware that the effectiveness of the executive summaries that went out to the owners Wednesday, plus the in-person presentations, which will be made in Atlanta on May 20 before the vote is made, more than a little dazzle is expected of them.
“In the end, it’s a business proposition,” Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President Jay Cicero said. “But your presentation is a reflection of your desire for your city to host again, and it’s a reflection of your culture and the special things about your city.
“This is the most comprehensive and creative bid for any event in my 22 years in the organization. No matter how successful you’ve been in the past, you never take anything like this for granted.”
Allison Melangton, Cicero’s counterpart at the Indiana Sports Corporation, is of the same mindset.
“I’m sure there are some owners who already have their minds made up,” she said. “And there are some who are more interested in the financials than anything else.
“But the majority do want to see and hear what you have to say. That’s why we put so much work into this.”
The executive summaries and final presentations are key elements of Super Bowl bids, said sports consultant Mark Ganis, of Chicago.
But unless things change, he expects New Orleans to win out for what would be a record-tying 11th time.
“Minneapolis will eventually get a Super Bowl because they’re building a new stadium,” he said. “But I think it will be the next time.
“Indianapolis did a good job in 2012, but it’s still a nontraditional site. New Orleans is a favorite site for a variety of reasons, and the owners like to come back to places they like.”
The New Orleans bid effort is being spearheaded by Sports Foundation senior vice president Sam Joffray, who had the same function five years ago when the city landed Super Bowl XLVII, which was in February 2013.
In fact, the summaries have much the same exterior look as the 2009 ones — cypress boxes crafted by local cabinetmaker David Perrier and customized for each individual owner.
But inside, instead of the three three-ring binders included in the 2009 package, there’s a tablet featuring a video. Introduced by Archie Manning and narrated by Harry Connick Jr., it extols the familiar trademarks of the city — the fun, the food, the music — with an emphasis that 2018 is New Orleans’ 300th birthday.
“There’s N.O. Better Time (the campaign theme) for the game, the fans and the league,” Connick exclaims at the end. “Super Bowl, baby! Yeah, you right.”
The tablet also has apps leading to more of the nuts and bolts of the bids.
And for those with less-advanced computer skills, there are two small picture books with the same messages.
“The tablet is a big step in allowing us to consolidate things in a user-friendly way,” Joffray said. “But it’s also a reminder of New Orleans’ history as a Super Bowl city.
“It’s a living, breathing keepsake, and a nice way to package things. I had a great team putting it together, too.”
Saints owner/vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc agreed.
“The videos are clever and well-produced,” she said. “Finding a balance of humor and emotion to capture the excitement of returning to New Orleans was essential.
“This bid has taken countless hours to produce. But the message comes through that there is no more perfectly ideal year for New Orleans to host the Super Bowl than 2018.”
The Minneapolis and Indianapolis summaries, which creators declined to reveal details about citing competitive considerations, fall along expected themes.
In Minneapolis, the opening of the new Vikings stadium in 2016 is the main pitch. The city hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl since 1992.
“We’re building the next great stadium in the NFL,” Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said. “This stadium was built to host the Super Bowl.”
In Indianapolis, it’s the job, particularly in the hospitality area, the city did in 2012, its first time to host a Super Bowl.
“Our execution of the 2012 Super Bowl was very important,” Melangton said. “We were creative in developing the fan experience, and we have even more exciting things to offer for 2018.
“We’re weaving that story throughout our presentation.”
The Indianapolis group came up with what is now known as Super Bowl Boulevard, the free outdoor game-week attraction to complement the NFL Experience, which is a paid admission event.
Both Joffray and Melangton said enhancing the popular Super Bowl Boulevard element was a prime emphasis in their separate meetings with NFL staffers last month in New York, at which the detailed bid specs submitted to the league a few weeks before were discussed and ideas were given to improve the final bids.
“The NFL does a great job of maximizing the competition,” Melangton said. “They don’t put you against the other cities so much as stressing how to put your best foot forward.
“That way, the owners get to choose between three cities each showing their greatest strengths. It’s all very positive.”
For New Orleans, Joffray said, the emphasis on fan experience could mean bringing Super Bowl Boulevard and the NFL Experience in closer proximity along the riverfront. Parts of the NFL Experience could be moved outside, a subtle reminder to the owners that other finalists are both cold-weather cities.
Joffray also said the summary includes alternative venues for events such as Super Bowl eve NFL Honors (think Saenger) and a uniquely New Orleans way fans walk from the CBD hotels to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (think handkerchiefs).
The May 20 presentations will be made by New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau president Steve Perry and Entergy executive vice president Rod West.
They are the same two who made the successful presentation in 2009.
The presentations are 15 minutes for each city plus time for questions from the owners.
That could include a question directed toward West about the 34-minute power failure during Super Bowl XLVII.
But Joffray pointed out that Wrestlemania XXX, which was held in the Superdome last month, was a three-hour power-gobbling extravaganza compared to the halftime show that produced the blackout, and it went off without incident — as has every other Superdome event since then.
The presentations will be followed by outgoing NFL vice president for events Frank Supovitz detailing each city’s bottom line — the expected costs versus the expected revenues. One difference from the past is that the bidders cannot change their financials from what was submitted Wednesday.
“The money obviously comes into play, but sometimes more than others,” Ganis said. “A few years ago, Dallas was able to overwhelm everyone else with what it offered.
“Last year in New York/New Jersey was expensive, but that was a unique situation. But if there are no major quantifiable differences, then they will go with where they feel the most comfortable.”
To Joffray, the executive summaries are a vital step in that direction.
“This is going to be the first impression they get of how badly we want this,” he said. “We have a city that’s like no other in the world, and we’re a proven, experienced Super Bowl host with more to offer in the future.
“I’m confident we’ve gotten that message across.”