By JONATHAN BERR, who has written for national media outlets for more than 15 years
For risk managers, the action at the Super Bowl takes place off the field ... like at the Super Bowl Tail Gate Party. Cost of admission: between $150 and $425 a ticket. Yes, that's just for admittance to the parking lot.
Ah, but in the parking lot you can drink and drink and drink some more, and it's often the sideshows--like tail gate parties and T-shirt vendors and the pickup games--that give risk managers more headaches than the overpaid, trash-talking gladiators rumbling on the gridiron for exorbitant spectator prices.
This year, don't forget, the masses are going to be watching their game from the best football stadium parking lot in all the land. This year's Super Bowl, featuring the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be hosted for the first time by the new $1.3 billion Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Officials from the National Football League are expecting a record crowd of more than 100,000 people to attend this Sunday's championship game.
"The contractual issues with all the parties are one of the biggest challenges for a risk manager," said Lew Bostic, Comcast-Spectacor's vice president of risk management in a statement to Risk & Insurance®.
The Super Bowl "parties," of course, come in all shapes and sizes, even if some aren't directly under the purview of a corporate risk manager.
An estimated 15,000 pimps and prostitutes are expected to be in the Dallas area because the people traveling to the game are fans of more than football, according to local media reports. Petty theft abounds during these events too.
"The No. 1 difference is security," said Alex Fairly, the Amarillo, Texas-based senior vice president of the insurance brokerage Willis, who has been involved in securing coverage for World Series baseball. "There is a level of security that goes beyond anything we are used to. ... There are clear tiers of responsibility and accountability."
From making sure that the players arrive safely to ordering enough hot dogs and beer for the assembled masses, to guiding cars, buses and pickup trucks through parking lots, the risk managers and brokers involved are studying flow charts and assigning responsibility months in advance.
"There are a myriad of parties involved in a production of an event of this magnitude," the Philadelphia-based Bostic said. "No matter how well prepared you are for an event of this magnitude, there will always be something that pops up at the last moment and must be dealt with immediately."
Bostic, who helped organize the 2008 Super Bowl, also added two other qualities that the event's risk managers should posses: "Flexibility in your planning and communication with all parties involved in order to address whatever the issue may be and get it resolved to everybody's satisfaction."
It is also very common for organizations to take out event cancellation policies should something go wrong with so much at stake, according to risk managers and brokers.
One good thing for risk managers was that the Packers beat the Chicago Bears for the NFC title game in Chicago. Had the Bears made it to the Super Bowl, it's a sure bet the team's most famous fan, President Obama, would have ordered Air Force One to Arlington. Instead, he's now likely to stay in the White House and watch the game on TV.
The commander in chief at the Super Bowl would present a mixed blessing, said Aon's Chris Rogers, another veteran of Super Bowl insurance coverage. A presidential entourage by definition means a bigger security budget, but also a bigger challenge in moving the president and his security detail in and out of the stadium.
A spokesman for the NFL declined to comment for the article.
February 1, 2011
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