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In the Heat of Business

February 27, 2014

I don’t have a dog in the hunt on the Arizona bill deal.  Sure, it’s pretty much over now that Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill anyway.  That said, there was something I caught last night that I thought was funny.  Late in the game yesterday, sources started to whisper that the NFL was starting to look at options for moving the Super Bowl if the bill passed.

Host Committee CEO Jay Parry had said the organization went straight to Brewer’s office to express its concern and disagreement over Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed Arizonans the ability to cite religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to anybody…

…”We are looking for the governor to veto,” Parry told ESPN.com earlier in the day. “We have confidence in the governor representing our state. We’ve shared our concerns with the governor’s office directly. So, we just wait and see.”

The bill, in part, was put in place to prevent just this thing from happening.  We can all question the motives of the supporters, and of the non-supporters.  But the real heart of the bill was around people or organizations not being able to pressure other people or organizations who had different viewpoints.  The NFL, and its Host Committee extension, did precisely that in coercing the governor to veto the bill.

Now, I’m expecting that most of this was self-protection.  A very visible organization like the NFL would have been toast when caught between protest groups and the state, and would have been forced to avoid the PR nightmare that would go around this.  But the effort was pretty ham-handed.

I’m obviously not one to ask, since I’m pretty black and white about my opinions.  But were I in power in Arizona right now, I’d be sorely tempted to tell the NFL that the Super Bowl in Arizona is off for now, and they can go figure out some other opportunity.  I get the lost business opportunity, but I also get coercion, and the next time is going to be even more blatant.

For now, Arizona is stuck in a weird limbo while the various players decide next moves.  I don’t think this is done by a long shot.

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