Funding for Super Bowl moves forward in House, albeit with a cut in funds - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Funding for Super Bowl moves forward in House, albeit with a cut in funds

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 4:45 pm

State lawmakers moved closer Friday to giving Glendale a chance to recover some of its costs for hosting the 2015 Super Bowl.

But the amount continues to drop.

The original legislation would have made up to $5 million in state tax funds available to cities for things like police overtime for nationally televised special events. By the time HB 2547 got out of the House, though, the cap had been dropped to just $2 million.

On Friday, the Senate Committee on Government and Environment got a shot at it, and it gave the legislation unanimous approval – but not before saying the city could get the state to cover only half of its expenses, with that $2 million cap remaining in place.

Despite the ever-shrinking number, the vote cheered Mayor Jerry Weiers.

“Right now, with the way our city is, anything is better than nothing,” he said.

Weiers told lawmakers that while the event is being held in his city, the state needs to step up financially.

“We have to be able to put on a Super Bowl,” he said. “But we have to do it safely and make sure that any visitors who come to Arizona that they have an experience that they're always going to remember fondly.”

Weiers said if there is some sort of incident, that will tarnish the reputation of not just his community but the entire state.

On the other side of the equation, Weiers said the game and all the events around it, including the NFL Experience fair slated for downtown Phoenix, will bring in far more revenues from tourists than what he is seeking in reimbursement.

But Weiers still has the hurdle of the full Senate. And despite Friday's unanimous vote, there could be problems.

Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said she has been getting emails from constituents who contend their tax dollars should not be used to bail out Glendale.

Ward said she understands the point that Weiers is making about this being a statewide responsibility. But Ward said she may have to vote against the measure when it gets to the Senate floor if the correspondence from her district continues.

Weiers, having watched the available funds shrink twice now, said he hopes lawmakers won't take a further whack at the plan at that time.

The current version of the legislation is a one-shot deal, good only for next year's event. But it does require a study of the whole question of who should be responsible, with an eye on creating a permanent reimbursement fund for future major events.

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