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Cardinals president: Super Bowl's impact will extend far beyond Glendale

Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill speaks Friday at the Society of Business Editors and Writers' spring conference in Phoenix. (Cronkite News photo/Caitlin Cruz)

PHOENIX -- While the 2015 Super Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the economic impact will be felt across the Valley, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said Friday.

"The footprint of the Super Bowl is much greater than the stadium itself," Bidwill said told those attending the Society of American Business Editors and Writers' spring conference. "Obviously game day is Sunday, and the footprint of the stadium is extremely important, but what it brings is close to 150,000 people here."

The last Super Bowl held in Arizona, in 2008, had an economic impact estimated at around $500 million.

"We expect it to be greater the next time around," Bidwill said.

Downtown Phoenix will host Super Bowl Central, a 10-block area that will be home to network broadcasts, street merchants and the interactive NFL Experience for fans. Scottsdale is also planning events.

Speaking with Arizona Republic reporter Craig Harris at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Bidwill said it's unlikely that future Super Bowls will be held in small markets such as Green Bay, Wis. Phoenix's bid included a reservation of about 20,000 hotel rooms, a typical requirement.

"There's got to be a certain amount of infrastructure in place," he said.

When asked specifically about Green Bay by Jim Nelson, deputy editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bidwill said that city lacks infrastructure in terms of transportation and roads.

Bidwill's father, Bill, brought the first Super Bowl game to Tempe, Ariz., in 1996. Michael Bidwill helped bring the game to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2008.

The Valley's third Super Bowl will be even bigger, he said.

"Our game will be broadcast to 198 different countries in 25 different languages," he said. "The NFL will credential approximately 6,000 members of the media from about 60 countries."

After discussing the Valley's plans to host people and media from across the country for the Super Bowl, one audience member asked: Would the area be hurt economically if the Cardinals played for the NFL championship in 2015 instead of having an out-of-state team come to Glendale?

"I guess theoretically you could maybe make that argument, but I don't know. I think that would be a good problem to have," Bidwill said. "I hope we'll be able to find out the answer in 10 months."

Bidwill, who joined the Cardinals in 1996 and is a third-generation member of the team's front office, said the NFL is ready for an openly gay player. That became a near certainty when Michael Sam, a defensive end from the University of Missouri, came out in February and announced his plans to enter the NFL draft.

"One thing I know about our players is they all come from different backgrounds. They have different beliefs, they have different political beliefs, religious beliefs, different socioeconomic backgrounds, but the one thing they care about is winning football games and competing at a high level," Bidwill said. "They don't care about the rest of that stuff."

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