Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Detroit: "Surreal Bowl" Previous Next
Top of pageBottom of page

Username: Genesyxx

Post Number: 424
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 2:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Not sure what to make of the story. It starts out fine, but you read on and it starts to get somewhat murky.

Detroit's 'Surreal Bowl' By Sandy Grady (USA Today)
Wed Feb 1, 6:43 AM ET

Once again an armada of Lear jets delivers platoons of America's corporate tycoons. Streets will be jammed with stretch limos, their bars stocked with $500 bottles of champagne. Hotel suites will be agog with the rich, the celebrated and the lucky.

Every Super Bowl is a glitzy monument to the dictum: "Nothing succeeds like excess."

But this Super Bowl - numbered XL, which should be short for Extra Large - will be different. Very different. Never before has pro football's carnival been staged in the middle of a wintry city plunged into crisis by back-to-the-wall car manufacturers. Only a few days before the Seattle Seahawks-Pittsburgh Steelers kickoff, Ford Motor Co. announced it would lay off up to 30,000 workers and close 14 plants by 2012. General Motors had already said it would slash 30,000 jobs by 2008.

It's a weird juxtaposition between "Supersize Me!" and "Downsize Us!"

Sure, we'll have the usual Super Bowl ingredients of glitter, wealth and celebrity - aging Rolling Stones, Nielsen-busting TV ratings, the national splurge of gambling. Once again the big spenders - Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, FedEx, Subway - will peddle their wares on $2.5 million ads.

But the strange dichotomy of this 2006 game - a corporate festival in a city of lost-jobs anxiety - will be painfully visible.

Against the backdrop of job layoffs, the game will be staged in the dome ironically called Ford Field - its logo emblazoned at the cost of $40 million by Bill Ford Jr. General Motors has laced its headquarters in a 21-story vinyl Super Bowl banner. When the Super Bowl trophy is presented, the official game car on the field will be a GM's Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle, a symbol of ego and excess.

I doubt, however, that the celebratory air will be felt in Wixom's plant in the Detroit suburbs. Ford products (now Lincolns) have rolled off its line since Ike was president. Two weeks before the game, Ford told its 1,567 workers the Wixom plant would shut down.

Hard to believe many folks at Wixom will line up for Super Bowl tickets, face value $600-$700 but many selling for $2,700 and up. Nor do I expect laid-off Wixom workers will be found in Ford Field's 132 suites, where high rollers can sip half-time cognac. An Internet site advertised a 40-person suite for $261,000, The Seattle Times reported - that's in a city where the median house price is $169,000.

They should call this one the Surreal Bowl. And hire Bruce Springsteen to sing his blue-collar anthem, Born in the USA. Or have someone read the Roman poet JuvenaCalculate's lines about "bread and circuses," because a Super Bowl in a job-hurting city echoes the spectacles by Caligula, Claudius and Nero in another empire.

I'm not dissing Detroit, which has bravely spiffed up downtown for its Big Close-up. It's not its fault NFL's nabobs plunged its premier game into the middle of winter and a town with 6.8% unemployment. Let sportswriters, who recall the snowstorm that hit the last Super Bowl in Michigan and yearn for Miami's poolside parties, gripe.

Insisting his city is stereotyped for crime, violence and poverty, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gamely fumes at naysayers, "Detroit is a gritty town with rough edges, and we love it, and we celebrate it."

That's fine. But discount the NFL's hypocrisy that a Super Bowl will enrich Detroit by $300 million, which economic skeptics say means temporary jobs and short-term payoff. When the jet-setters are gone, stores along Woodward Avenue will still be ghostly shells.

True, the rest of the country will settle down with pretzels and six-packs, more concerned with Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck than Detroit's job miasma. And yes, we've had other oddball Super Bowls played in cities rife with racial tension or on the eve of the first Iraq war. The game has always been a dealmaker's den - infamous king-of-lobbyists Jack Abramoff invited Congressfolk and their staff on his tab to the 2001 Super Bowl.

So, sure, the game's our frenzied Mardi Gras. I covered the first one in 1967 (before the "Super" nomenclature) and, remembering L.A.'s Memorial Coliseum as one-third empty, I'm amazed how Pete Rozelle's dream exploded into a corporate bacchanalia.

But Surreal Bowl XL is different - a raw symbol of class disparity.

For once the orgiastic display of lobbyists, CEOs, advertisers and celebs in luxury boxes is a harsh contrast to Detroit's ravaged industry. Amid the unreality, want to bet that the NFL's TV announcers will interview jobless Ford or GM workers at halftime?

"In difficult economic times, it's certainly proper for stockholders - or for anybody - to ask the question, 'How much opulence?' " says University of Detroit marketing professor Michael Bernacchi.

By the way, affluent fans may spring for the autographed version of the NFL's book XL: Forty Years of Super Bowls, which weighs 85 pounds, bound in white calfskin, selling for $25,000.

Don't expect Wixom plant outcasts, more worried about unemployment checks, to belly up at the bookstore.
Top of pageBottom of page

Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1171
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 4:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Murky indeed.

Ford's recent corporate descisions should not reflect poorly on Kwame Kilpatrick or the people who, together with the NFL, decided to bring the Super Bowl here. They aren't connected and shouldn't be. In addition, Ford has had little to do with downtown Detroit and Detroit in general for a long time, outside of symbolism like Ford Field. The closing of the Wixom plant should not enter into a discussion of Detroit's downtown rebirth and the fact that it earned a Super Bowl bid (and will excel in putting in on)...chiefly because Wixom is 40 miles away.

Ford needs to do what it needs to do. So many people love to intertwine Detroit and the auto companies to the -nth degree. The fact is, we have more than that, and of the auto companies of the Detroit area, Ford has the fewest jobs within the city (unless I am sorely mistaken).

The Super Bowl has always been about class disparity, anyway. Only the super rich or those connected get to go...everyone else, which is many hundreds of millions, either watch on TV or enjoy the festivities and fun which the Bowl brings to their city when their city is lucky enough to get the bid. That's just the way it is.
Top of pageBottom of page

Username: Ray

Post Number: 626
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 12:33 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That article is retarded. Makes the region sound like a third world country with 20% unemployment.
6.8% is well below the unemployment rate France and Germany and only 1.8% above the US average.

Plus, the dingbat author totally ignores the fact that everyone is excited about the superbowl, its catalyzied real and substantial development, there are thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of people will be out partying this weekend.

I guess I'm wasting my time venting.
Top of pageBottom of page

Board Administrator
Username: Lowell

Post Number: 2246
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 1:15 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Well isn't that special" [Church Lady]

Yeah, yeah we hear you Sandy Grady whoever, but this is Detoit; we get economically kicked in the belly every ten to fifteen years, so relax, we can handle it - better than you. You would fit right in with some of the local grumps who have been burying us for decades.

We know how to have fun in the midst of doom and pick the piece afterward and the $300 million won't hurt. What you say about the D could easily be said about Miami and New Orleans, now that Katrina has strippe the veneer off that latter's hype. It sounds to me like you need a neck rub.
Top of pageBottom of page

Username: Crazy_pete

Post Number: 9
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 1:33 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The thing I don't understand is all these people who who bash and complain when GM and Ford lay off workers, but then drive Toyotas and Hondas.

If you care so much about GM and Ford workers....

(Message edited by crazy_pete on February 01, 2006)

Add Your Message Here
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.