S.F. transportation agency should seek reimbursement for Super Bowl costs, says citizen council

The City’s transportation agency shouldn’t foot the bill for the Super Bowl, a group of citizens urged Thursday night.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Citizen Advisory Council unanimously approved a motion urging the SFMTA to recoup costs for its transportation efforts related to the Super Bowl City before the event begins.

The Super Bowl City is a nine-day festival set for late January, to coincide with the 50th Super Bowl. The council, a group of engaged citizens that advises The City’s transit agency, has no decision-
making powers.

But its voice adds political pressure to the Mayor’s Office and the SFMTA to seek reimbursement from the NFL, or others who may profit from the Super Bowl.

“We don’t know what the costs will be to The City,” Sue Vaughan, a CAC member, told the San Francisco Examiner. Vaughan put forward the motion.

“Having an agreement that requires the NFL to reimburse the SFMTA and all other agencies for expenses,” she said, “will set an excellent nationwide precedent.”

Earlier in the night, Super Bowl 50 Committee representatives and local transportation agency staff presented the complexities required to reroute transportation for next year’s Super Bowl festival in San Francisco.

The council listened silently, soaking in the information.

To accommodate the Super Bowl City, downtown streets will be shut down, many buses will be rerouted and regional transit agencies across the Bay Area will marshall their resources to increase service.

Much of that accommodation effort is being led by Peter Albert, planning manager at the SFMTA.

When representatives finished describing the rush of work finished, and yet to be done, the council of everyday citizens had only one question.

“Who’s going to pay for it?” many asked, in one form or another.

At one point, Stephanie Martin, a representative of the Super Bowl 50 Committee, mentioned the many donations the group will make to local charities.

CAC member Joan Downey asked the council, dryly, “Can we apply to be one of the charities they donate to?”

The council laughed, but their ultimate message was delivered seriously.

Originally the council asked that the SFMTA’s Board of Directors not approve any Super Bowl plans related to Muni before seeking reimbursement. But Roberta Boomer, who is secretary to the board, told the council, “there’s no plan for that to come up” for an action item.

Meaning, the SFMTA board may not necessarily “approve” anything related to transportation planning for the Super Bowl City.

CAC members noted it’s been difficult to determine exactly who is in charge of seeking funds from the Super Bowl 50 Committee. Vaughan  suggested asking a representative from the Mayor’s Office to answer questions about funding.

As the Examiner previously reported, Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district the Super Bowl City will operate in, told the San Francisco Examiner “Not a single penny of taxpayer money should be used” to pay for the event.

Super Bowl 50 Committee spokesman Nathan Ballard previously told the Examiner, “We’re working with Muni to keep costs down and do our part.”

When asked if the committee had more concrete plans to pay for Muni disruptions later, he said, “It’s premature to put a price tag on any of this at this point.”

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