Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Super Bowl, the Sports Event for the 1 Percent; Price-Gouging Indy Hotels Had 907% Revenue Boost for Weekend

How about that weird sit-down in the end-zone with less than a minute to go?

And how about that even weirder halftime show? You know, with Madonna stomping around like her knees were on fire and she was just too tired to go get the extinguisher, with all of those marching, stomping chorus boys and drummers, all of those abstract electric patterns -- dang, it looked to me like Leni Reifenstahl and Busby Berkeley got drunk together in Hell and, cackling, choreographed that atrocious spectacle to annoy the Righteous in Super Bowl TV Land.

Another Super Bowl on the record books, and as usual, the well-fed, well-tended national sports media fail to note the absolutely obvious: The event is a television show that's broadcast from a corporate extravaganza in which the general public is not actually welcome.

If regular people actually attended this extravaganza, you'd be hearing all about the shocking price-gouging in Indianapolis last weekend. Hmmm, nary a peep, because most of the people who came to Indy last weekend were traveling on somebody else's corporate dime, not to mention the taxpayer's nickel. And the media in attendance were the usual mob of kept poodles.

Indianapolis really set a new standard for Super Bowl price-gouging, by the way. Data from Smith Travel Research, for Friday and Saturday nights of Super Bowl weekend, show that Indy hotels reported a 907 percent increase in revenue for those nights, compared with the Friday and Saturday of the previous week. Here's the Smith Travel report.

In Dallas last year during Super Bowl weekend there, by comparison, hotel revenue jumped a mere 127 percent, Smith travel reported.

So with $1,000 a night rooms in hotels that usually cost $55 a night, and red-carpet entree for only the select, with $3,000+ game tickets in the nosebleed sections and lavish parties tossed for the swells by giant companies that get to write it all off as a business expense tax deduction, with 1,100 private jets zooming in on a city that only has 135 scheduled commercial flights a day -- this was, again, an extravaganza played out for the richest 1 percent. For the rest of us, it was an interesting football game on television filled with sometimes lavish but often inexplicable or indefensible commercials.

Still, I did like those gigantic Budweiser Clydesdales, as usual. What horses! Did you see the two in front of the team do that in-unison levade -- while harnessed. Amazing. On the other hand, nice horses aside, I won't drink Budweiser beer, because it's swill.

I saw the Budweiser Clydesdales once in a barn in Montclair, N.J., where my wife used to board her horse. They were being boarded there temporarily while on call for a TV commercial location-shot before a previous Super Bowl. Jayzus those are giant, magnificent horses, almost too big to fit into the wash stalls.

Did you know that a lot of TV commercials featuring bucolic small-town scenes evoking the American Heartland are actually shot in the New York suburb of Montclair, N.J., or the neighboring small town, Glen Ridge, which lights its streets with gas lamps, which have been there since the 1920s? That's where a lot of iconic TV images of your small-town America come from, in reality.

Anyway, I digress. The point I wanted to underscore is that, all the phony hype (and bush-league boosterism in Indianapolis) aside, the Super Bowl is not a game for the average American to actually attend.

Most of the tickets are gone many months in advance, taken by the NFL, its sponsors and those in favor with corporate America. (Some of whom in turn re-sell said tickets to glorified scalpers who jack the prices up to stratospheric levels online).

Not to mention the 2,500 media, all of whom are covering the same damned football game and the same damned two dozen sidebar stories, and acting as if they're covering D-Day instead of wandering around from one party to the next, getting handouts like kept poodles. Semper fi!

None of whom are paying their own way, incidentally (though the corporations that employ them usually are paying.)

I'll prove my point about the Super Bowl being only for the privileged. Watching the game on TV, did you notice that there was not a single camera shot of "fans" in the stadium? Not one! Usually, the fan-in-the-stands shot is a kind of visual punctuation for TV sports directors -- but not at the Super Bowl, where the only such shots were of the grandees in the two teams' luxury owners suites (though we must relish that accidental shot of big fat Rush Limbaugh in the Patriots' suite, picking his nose).

You don't see the fan shots because few regular fans are present in the stadium. Many of the privileged who are there, on taxpayer subsidized corporate junkets, do not wish to be seen by the general public, for various reasons that include the fact that some are in attendance with people they do not wish a spouse or co-worker to see them with.

The regular public isn't even allowed to engage in that great pasttime of party-tailgating outside the stadium before the game. The NFL, not wanting the riffraff to get in the way of the splendid on the scene, bans tailgating for the Super Bowl.

One notable fact, beyond the usual display of wretched corporate excess (tax-deductible, remember):

The hotshots are not making a big point of it, but this year's Super Bowl attracted the most private jets of any in history. In fact, as I noted in an earlier post this week, the Indianapolis region airspace was clogged Sunday night and Monday morning with corporate aircraft heading out.

The Indianapolis Star newspaper, which I worried was going to faint dead-away with booster fever during the run-up to the game, managed to focus on something other than how visitors loved Indy, which is really not such a hick burg at all, with a look at the air travel aftermath.

"A record-setting 30,000 passengers passed through Indianapolis International Airport on Monday as most Super Bowl visitors headed home," the newspaper said, though it failed to note how many passengers typically pass through on a Sunday. (Psst: around 11,000).

Much of that was commercial flights, for which the airlines, like all other businesses making dough on the Super Bowl, jacked prices way up for the weekend.

Some was private jet passengers, though. Indianapolis International handled a good number (around 530) of the estimated 1,100-plus private flights that arrived for the weekend, and general aviation airports in the far-flung region handled the rest.

The crush was such that Masters of the Universe were landing at private airports elsewhere in Indiana and adjoining states, and taking limousines to Indy.

I will say this: despite the price-gouging that accompanies all Super Bowls (though it was more extreme in Indy hotels because of the relatively small supply), Indianapolis did handle the event, and especially the crowds, with elan.

But let's remember, that was not a sports event for regular people, like the Indianapolis 500 is.

Instead, the Super Bowl was a sports event for the one percent, and a grand time was had by all, by all who could afford it or who were guests of those who could afford it.

Tax deductible, remember.


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