The Super Bowl is in town, what’s not to like?
Apparently quite a bit. The Big Game has seemed to have made more than its fair share of people grumpy this time of year.
On Thursday, protesters took over sections of lower Market Street around “Super Bowl City,” the fan zone full of brand-sponsored booths, to protest The City’s efforts to clear the area of homeless during the event.
Supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos and Aaron Peskin, among others, have been scathing of the The City’s “back-room deal” with the NFL to play party zone to the Super Bowl. They accuse The City of agreeing, with no public oversight, to pay an estimated $5 million in services like transit and public safety for this weeklong celebration leading up to Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium, while similar costs to Santa Clara — where the game is actually being played — are being fully covered by the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.
The City sure drives a hard bargain.
“Santa Clara got the Super Bowl. San Francisco’s getting the traffic and the gridlock,” Kim quipped.
Organizers of the “Tackle Homelessness” event Thursday demanded to know why the $5 million couldn’t have been spent on those in need of housing.
Mayor Ed Lee and supporters of the NFL deal have dismissed such criticism, arguing The City will more than recoup its expenses in hotel and sale taxes.
To which, Supervisor Avalos said, “We always get those trickle-down projections. But they really don’t pan out.”
Black Lives Matter organizers and those targeting the San Francisco Police Department for its response to the recent police shooting of Mario Woods have also seized the opportunity to press their cases. Others protesting the displacement of people who can no longer afford to live in San Francisco, along with street vendors upset for being pushed out of their usual park stalls during these weeks, have added to the din of displeasure.
As Davey D, the Oakland hip-hop journalist, explained to The Nation this week, disrupting the Super Bowl festivities was a way to send a message that city officials have turned their back on the people they are supposed to serve. “They’ve chosen the side of the developers, they’ve chosen the side of the techno-archy, and they’ve chosen the side of the police unions,” Davey D said. “People have been going to City Hall and done everything that you’re supposed to do and that’s been ignored. So when that happens, you have to start hitting people where it hurts.”
Amid this clamor and discord, The City has been working hard to put its best foot forward for the droves of football fans and tourists who have poured in. Championed by Mayor Ed Lee, city leaders have been tireless cheerleaders, proclaiming the weeklong festivities leading up to game as a “civic celebration,” a designation that may have engaged party-goers but also enraged critics, who charged it was another corporate payout by an administration that has long favored wealthy business interests over advancing social services and affordability measures.
With so much jockeying over the game before it’s even been played, it’s been an exhausting week.
But now we have the game itself. The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will face off a few miles south of the city limits come Sunday afternoon. All week, we have heard great storylines for these two outstanding teams, anticipating the battle of opposing and contrasting star quarterbacks.
Let’s hope for a great game this weekend. After the battles of the past few weeks, all sides deserve it.
There will be time enough for all the Monday morning quarterbacking over what it all meant starting next week.