Saturday, July 11, 2009

Indianapolis Downtown Businesses: Beware the Super Bowl "Clean Zone" Ordinance

Last Saturday, the Indianapolis Business Journal, published an article entitled "Bowl Donors Still in Game." In the article, it talked about how corporate sponsors of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl are still holding steady on their promised contributions despite the economic recession.

What I found most interesting, however, was a small paragraph in the Corey Schouten article:

During the event, the [Super Bowl Host Committee] must maintain a one-mile-wide “clean zone” around Lucas Oil Stadium to prevent any non-NFL-sanctioned marketing activities. And it might temporarily relocate the U.S. Post Office facility across from the stadium.
Last time I checked, a mile was 5,280 feet. The mile radius of Lucas Oil Stadium will include almost every business in the downtown area.

When Detroit hosted the Super Bowl in 2006, their "clean zone" was 300 feet. The special event ordinance ran for five weeks from January 2, 2006 through February 10, 2006. It appears from my research that Indianapolis' "clean zone" will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, for a sporting event.

Although these "clean zone" ordinances are sold as a way of preventing the sale of counterfeit NFL merchandise, that argument is bogus. Federal and state law already provides for harsh civil and even criminal penalties for the sale of counterfeit merchandise, including that licensed by the NFL. Rather the "clean zone" restrictions are about the NFL making more money. Let's say you own a restaurant, six blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium and you want to put up a banner inside your establishment welcoming out-of-towners during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. That would be illegal under most "clean ordinances. Instead you have to buy your banner from the NFL or be subject to a several thousand dollar fine.

But the restrictions go beyond even that. Temporary and outdoor signage, that is not of sponsors of the game, is banned by most "clean zones" ordinances. For example, the pizza store down the street where I work sometimes puts a sandwich board sign outside advertising specials. He won't be able to do that before Super Bowl 2012.

Depending how the ordinance is written, the Super Bowl Host Committee can also use the "clean zone" ordinances to force downtown businesses to cough up money if they want to do business during weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. In 2008, San Antonio adopted a "clean zone" ordinance that required businesses to pay $750 for a license in order to do business within the "clean zone" during the 2008 NCAA final four.

Do we know what kind of "Clean Zone" ordinance is required as part of the deal for the 2012 Super Bowl? Nope. The fact is the Super Bowl Host Committee, which disingenuously attempts to operate as a private entity, keeps those kind of details under wraps. What we do know, however, that the "Clean Zone" will be a mile perimeter around Lucas Oil Stadium and affect virtually every business in the immediate downtown area. Because of the impact it will have on virtually every downtown business, it is time that we start demanding that the Host Committee provide specific details about the "Clean Zone."


Gary R. Welsh said...

Paul, Don't forget that large portions of downtown will be cordoned off and us commoners will be told to get lost. Only the privileged with tickets will be allowed access to most of the area downtown. The rest of us will be told to stay the hell away from downtown and watch on TV as the elites from all over the country descend on downtown for their 48-hour private party.

Downtown Indy said...

Yessir, this is going to get really interesting before it's all over with.

I expect people who work in the area, perhaps most of the 'clean zone', will need special creds just to get to where they work.

Parking in your monthly space or going out for lunch may become tricky/expensive, too.

It all hinges on how broadly they establich a perimeter for bomb sweeps and so on.

Patriot Paul said...

I can think of constitutional questions from property rights to freedom of speech and expression of those within the 1 mile radius that become suspended simply because of their proximity to an event by a private enterprise that financially benefits from these restrictions
In 2003, the Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Fl. had a smilar zone, approved by the council back in June of 2002, but then the code enforcement people went on a witch hunt 12 hours before the race because word never came to the merchants who invested their own money for advertising but were forced to remove their own signs.
Tampa did the same thing in 2001 and 2009 with the NFL and the womens' final four in basketball.
Protestors went before the city council in Tampa to protest the violation of property rights, but the council voted unananimously to pass the NFL ordinance anyway.
The NCAA 1st round of the 2008 Final Four San Antonio also had the same thing, and considering Indy has the Final Four in 2010, one may well ask on what basis it was sold. Look what San Antonio went through and download their Zone Ordinance on the following link:
View the San Antonio passed council ordinance:
"WHEREAS, the City of San Antonio, in conjunction with various sponsors and promoters, is hosting the 2007 Big 12 Football Championship (December 1, 2007), 2007 UIL Conference 5AFootball Championship Games (December 22, 2007), 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl (December 29,2007) and 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four Basketball Tournament (April 5 and April 7,2008) (“Events”) in the Alamodome;..."

How easy it is to sell our fundamental rights to the highest bidder, all for the sake of greed.
Don't expect activists in INdy to take this lying down. What did the City Council know, and when did they know it?

Paul K. Ogden said...

AI, I expect that the party will last a lot more than 48 hours. The one Super Bowl "clean zone" in Detroit was for five weeks.

DI, you are so right. People are going to be cursing how they are inconvenienced.

PP, I think you're right. There are major legal questions what control they can have over your business by passing a "clean zone" ordinance. It's a very gray area, but that just means it's subject to legal challenge.

american patriot said...

I lived in San Diego for 2 superbowls, one pre-911 and one post.
The security for the players, families and officials is very tight.
The CHP ran rolling road blocks on the highways whenever they escorted team / VIP buses.

On-ramps were blocked off and officers drove 20 mph with a 4 or 5 lane wide mass of cars stuck behind while the buses drove ahead of them.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

But don't worry folks...according to the democrats, we will make bazillions of dollars off this thing!

Paul K. Ogden said...


I don't think it's just "Democrats" saying that. The business elites who run this city are bipartisan.

One has to ask if the Super Bowl is such a great investment for a city, why don't more cities bid on it?

Claudia Beck Treacy said...

"And it might temporarily relocate the U.S. Post Office facility across from the stadium. "

This statement confirms what I have suspected for years. Our government is no longer calling the shots or "making laws." If a private corporation can tell the government what to do, then we should ask ourselves if we are operating, not as a republic, but under some form of corporate fascism.