NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue recommended today that the 1993 Super Bowl be moved from Arizona because voters rejected a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“With the holiday referenda having been rejected Tuesday, I do not believe that playing Super Bowl XXVII in Arizona is in the best interests of the National Football League,” Tagliabue said in a statement issued by his office.
“I will recommend to the NFL clubs that this Super Bowl be played elsewhere. I am confident that they will endorse my recommendation. Arizona can continue its political debate without the Super Bowl as a factor.”
The game was awarded to Arizona last March by NFL owners after a long debate. Los Angeles was the runner-up with San Diego and San Francisco the other contenders.
But both Tagliabue and Norman Braman, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and chairman of the Super Bowl site selection committee, warned that without a King holiday, the Super Bowl would be in jeopardy.
“I think it’s tragic for the people who worked so hard to get the game there,” Braman said today. “But I think it would be an affront to our public and our players if the game was played there.”
Arizona voters rejected Tuesday by about 15,000 votes of a million cast a proposal to honor the slain civil rights leader, and some proponents in Arizona held the NFL to blame.
In order for the game to be moved, 21 of the 28 teams would have to vote to take it from Phoenix, although Tagliabue’s recommendation makes that almost a formality.
“I can’t imagine that people won’t go along with the commissioner,” Braman said. “I applaud him for his courageous stand.”
NFL owners meet in Dallas next Wednesday on an unrelated matter, but Tagliabue said the 1993 Super Bowl will not be discussed “but rather taken up in the normal course of events.”
Two King holiday proposals were on the ballot and both lost, one by a 3-1 margin and the other by fewer than 15,000 votes.