Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Detroit: "Surreal Bowl" Previous Next
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Username: Genesyxx

Post Number: 425
Registered: 02-2004
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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.
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Username: Jimelnino

Post Number: 333
Registered: 06-2005
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 3:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Right, because the NFL expected Ford to layoff 30,000 people the week before the game, back when they awarded the game to us in 2000.
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Username: Jt1

Post Number: 6636
Registered: 10-2003
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 3:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

IN 2000 the Big 3 were booming with near record stock prices.
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Username: Valkyrias

Post Number: 200
Registered: 02-2005
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 3:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

it almost sounds as though she is trying to make excuses for the city...like, look at all they did and look at where they are. it's not their fault, give them a break.

or it may be more of a commentary of how much of a capitalist society we are. spend too much money and look what happens. i mean, given the current state of the city and it's big companies, when you slap that alongside something like the superbowl, it does make for an interesting juxtaposition. and as surreal as it may seem, it is in fact reality.
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Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3009
Registered: 11-2003
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 3:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jtl, "Big 3?" Oh, how '50s of you!

Will they allow Toyota, Honda, and Nissan ads during Super Bowl from Ford Field? (Now there's a Big 3 if there ever was.)

jjaba, Tells it like it tis.
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Username: Jjaba

Post Number: 3010
Registered: 11-2003
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 3:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wixom, one of the largest factory floors in the World. Ford chose it to make Lincolns and T-Birds that nobody wanted, except collectors and Las Vegas and New York liveries.

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