Tagliabue: Super Bowl May Be Delayed

Monday, September 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Super Bowl probably will be delayed a week and will be moved if a schedule change in New Orleans can't be arranged, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Sunday.

``I think it's very likely that it will be Feb. 3 instead of Jan. 27, in one way or another,'' Tagliabue said during halftime of the Giants-Chiefs game he attended in Kansas City. ``I believe we'll be able to pick up the week that we've lost and play the entire postseason schedule.''

Tagliabue said New Orleans remained the NFL's top choice but the league was prepared to move if need be.

``We're hopeful of doing that in New Orleans, but we have some other alternatives that would enable us to play the Super Bowl _ if it became necessary _ in Los Angeles or Miami, or Tampa,'' he said. ``We'll be working very hard to get those issues resolved this week, if it's possible _ no promises.''

When told of Tagliabue's comments, Doug Thornton, the Superdome's general manager, said: ``We're still optimistic that it's going to be played in New Orleans, and working very hard with the NFL to cooperate and make it happen.''

The NFL postponed its second week of games after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. It moved those games to the weekend of Jan. 5-7, which originally was scheduled for wild-card playoff games.

Aside from moving the Super Bowl to Feb. 3, the league has considered condensing a full playoffs, using midweek games, or canceling the wild-card weekend, with only four teams making the playoffs in each conference.

An automobile dealers convention is scheduled for New Orleans for the week following the current date of the Super Bowl, Jan. 27.

David Hyatt, executive director of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said Sunday he had not heard from the NFL since two conversations Tuesday and a faxed letter Wednesday.

``If the NFL were to get in touch, if Paul Tagliabue wants to pursue this, obviously we're not going to say no to further talks,'' he said. ``But as of now there's been no further contact.

``The question then would remain, `Can we work out the details of it, some sort of an agreement that makes it a win for the NFL and overcomes the logistical nightmare of switching these events?' It's not easy. It's a lot tougher than it appears on the surface.''

Tagliabue said the league would be working on plans with various officials in New Orleans this week.

``I think we'll be able to work it through so we can play the game in New Orleans,'' he said. ``That will involve switching some other events down there.

``The one plan we've looked at which would have us play it in Los Angeles, Miami or Tampa, the two conference championship games would be played in New Orleans, probably on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.''

Hyatt said Wednesday's letter thanked NADA for considering the matter and recognized the decision was not ``just inconvenience and logistics, but the viability of the entire convention.''

But, he added, ``We've never had any discussion of potential losses, the need to indemnify us of all liabilities. We've got over 600 signed contracts. These are all legal obligations.

``The obstacles are real. I think he's more aware of just how complicated and complex a matter it is.''

Several NADA members, including the New Orleans Saints' Tom Benson, own all or part of NFL teams.

``America's car dealers are among the strongest supporters of the NFL. If we can accommodate them, that's what we want to do. But we're in a very awkward position,'' Hyatt said. ``These conventions are not small. They're planned 10-plus years in advance.''