All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Not-So-Super Bowl?

No, I'm not denigrating today's game. I love football, and the Steelers and the Cards are worthy opponents. The historic Steelers dynasty vs. the long-downtrodden Cards. I have a feeling the Cards will face a fate similar to that of the similarly scrappy underdog Rays in the World Series, but I'm happy to see them play in the big game at last. (If the Cowboys couldn't be there, anyway. Sigh.)

Rather, I'm talking about how the ongoing financial crisis is affecting sports, including the Super Bowl. Entertainment, including sports, has traditionally been relatively recession-proof, but this economic slump is far worse than usual. Also, sports is much more dependent on advertising revenue from banks and auto manufacturers - both hard-hit by the downturn - than I had realized.

The Mets had a naming rights deal with Citibank, but now that they've been bailed out by the taxpayers, some are questioning whether it's money well spent:

Citi Field or Bailout Ballpark?

The Mets are moving into a new baseball park this year and Citigroup agreed in 2006 to pay $400 million over 20 years to have it named Citi Field.

But that deal, like the planned purchase of the jet, has come under scrutiny from Congress now that Citigroup has received $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money, as well as a government backstop for more than $300 billion in loan losses.

With that in mind, House members Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, and Ted Poe, R-TX, this week urged Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to intervene.

"Citigroup is now dependent on the support of the federal government for its survival as an institution. As such, we do not believe Citigroup ought to spend $400 million to name a stadium at the same time that they accept over $350 billion in taxpayer support and guarantees," Kucinich and Poe wrote.

NPR wonders: Will The Super Bowl Stay 'Super'?
Other signs of the event's troubles abound: Usually free-spending major advertisers — such as U.S. automakers and financial institutions — are in dire financial straits, sports-marketing and sports-sponsorship growth is virtually flat and the NFL itself is laying off staff members.

And if you need more evidence, Playboy and Sports Illustrated have canceled their Super Bowl soirees this year. Maxim magazine has trimmed back its party plans. And the Tampa Tribune is reporting that corporate jet traffic may be less than expected.

"No one is immune from the economy," said Reid Sigmon, the Super Bowl host committee's executive director, "not [even] the NFL."

Even the millionaire athletes are feeling the crunch:

For sale: Championship sports bling
There's no official count, but cash-strapped former and current sports stars, players' families, and staff seem more willing lately to part with their old championship rings and other personal memorabilia. Eager vendors use sites like, and to sell MLB, NBA and NCAA rings for as much as $40,000 to buyers around the world.

Tim Robins, who owns online vendor, says the offers from players and others with rings have increased dramatically since the economy turned sour. Over the past 90 days, Robins says he has bought more than 400 rings; he typically purchases about 100 a month.

"We're buying more rings than we ever have," says Robins, who's based in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. "It doesn't matter how famous a player is or how much money they've supposedly earned; the hard economic times are affecting everyone."

Enjoy today's game. One day, we'll be looking back at this as the "good old days."


posted by BubbaFan, 11:18 AM


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