Idiotic lease clause could force Houston to spend $50m on upgrading Texans stadium for Super Bowl

To the list of crazy things that the NFL demands in order to allow cities the honor of hosting the Super Bowl (free billboards, free police officers, free bowling alleys), add spending $50 million to make the luxury suites more luxurious at your 13-year-old stadium. That’s what Houston was told for its plans to host the 2017 Super Bowl:

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, said Monday that upgrading the stadium’s WiFi is something the bid committee has agreed to do. In terms of sprucing up the seating, he said he noted on a recent visit that NRG “is in a very good place at this stage in its stadium life, but there are opportunities to upgrade that are common across Super Bowl stadiums as they prepare and continue to make sure they are state-of-the-art.”

So far, no Houston government officials have stepped up to offer $50 million to the cause — in fact, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack swore earlier this week that “I’m not about to vote to spend a single dollar of county money updating these luxury suites” — and it doesn’t appear that the Super Bowl bid committee actually committed to it as a condition of hosting the big game. So the NFL seemingly doesn’t have a leg to stand on, unless there’s something in the Texans‘ stadium lease:

A clause in that lease agreement says the county must maintain the facility in “first class” condition and “a manner comparable to other stadiums.”

Noooooooooooo! Don’t you people ever learn?

6 comments on “Idiotic lease clause could force Houston to spend $50m on upgrading Texans stadium for Super Bowl

  1. To paraphrase “The Usual Suspects”, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was inventing state of the art clauses. God I LOVE them. It’s a completely vague concept we can use to extort more public stadium cash out of every city and county that agrees to one. All I can say is… YEEHAW suckers!

  2. Neil, I used to feel sorry for cities when they get bullied by these sports billionaires but now, I side with Piggy Wilf and his ilk. If city reps are this dumb and the voters keep putting in these dummies to agree to such idiotic clauses where they hold all the leverage, they deserve to be swindled right out of ever tax dollar.

  3. I’m pretty sure the folks who wrote the Texans’ lease, if they were elected at all, didn’t make it part of their campaign platform “Be big fat idiots when it comes to signing agreements with local NFL franchise.” So it’s kind of tough for voters to be educated consumers here.

  4. Right, I read your book and it’s true local/state gov’ts have nowhere near the finanacila resources the owners have to check every nook and cranny in these bad deals but the word no is still relatively cheap. Can Houston actually tell the NFL at this pt: We change our minds, we don’t want the Super Bowl? Sorry, bad question, wishful thinking.

  5. Oh, pinning blame on the officials is still fine. I’m just saying don’t necessarily blame the poor voters, they were just trying to make sure the wrong lizard didn’t get in.

    And sure, Houston could tell the NFL to take a hike. (Or, better yet, say “Sorry, not happening, you still want to play here or you want to go find a new location at the last minute?”) But yeah, not too likely that they’ll do that.