NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met last night with an Arizona contigent headed by Sen. Dennis DeConcini and Gov. Rose Mofford for two hours to discuss the possibility of moving the 1993 Super Bowl because Arizona voters rejected a Martin Luther King holiday proposal.
The private talk took place in the Capitol and was basically a chance, both parties said, to meet face-to-face so each side could give its point of view.
But Tagliabue will stick by his decision to urge NFL owners at the league meetings in March to vote for moving the Super Bowl should the state not adopt a paid King holiday.
When asked after the meeting if he was going to stick by his decision, Tagliabue said "yes."
He said it was useful to have a meeting with the contigent that included Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson because he wanted to "meet with some of the Arizona officials that I hadn't spoken with before."
Tagliabue had no further comment.
DeConcini said no deadlines for Arizona establishing a King holiday were discussed, although March is somewhat of an artificial deadline because it is when Tagliabue likely will recommend to move the Super Bowl.
"They're not going to expedite procedures or make a big deal out of this," DeConcini said. "They have their interests to pursue and we have the state of Arizona's interests. And it's not just the Super Bowl. Obviously that's very important, but there is much more riding on this in terms of the future of Arizona.
"What I told the commissioner is that Arizona is going to deal with this and we're going to resolve it. And we're going to do it because it's the right thing to do, and the economic benefits are either going to come or they aren't going to come as a result of that right decison."
The state could lose up to $200 million should the NFL move the Super Bowl.
Also at stake is the revenue generated from two college bowl games -- the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe and the Copper Bowl in Tucson. Several schools refused to participate in the Fiesta Bowl because of the rejected holiday. The University of Virginia was offered a bid but was not forced to make a decision after the Sugar Bowl extended an invitation. Louisville will play Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
The University of California has been criticized for accepting an invitation to the Copper Bowl. Cal will play Wyoming in the Dec. 31 game.