How Much Does It Cost to Insure the Super Bowl?
This Sunday marks America's favourite sports spectacle, the 48th annual Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will be making history, playing the first Super Bowl ever outside in cold weather—a huge risk, especially from an insurance perspective.
Yes, this year's event is a little different. Not only will the teams be fighting Mother Nature, but also the official celebration will occur in two States. The game takes place at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but the party will spill over into New York City as more than a million people are expected to fill Times Square for what will essentially be a week-long party.
There's a lot to take into consideration because everything—including the street parties—will be tied back to the league, and that needs to be protected.
"Everything is associated with the NFL name and that is worth an absolute fortune," says Mark Woodall, the president and CEO of Special Risk Insurance Managers. The Canadian firm was recently chosen as the official insurers of the Pan Am Games and has in the past insured other large-scale events, including the Grey Cup.
There's no denying that the Super Bowl is a big deal. The NFL needs protection from virtually anything that could possibly happen. It needs to protect the venue, the players, the thousands of volunteers, the VIPS, the attendees, the equipment, the halftime show, security efforts, and more. It needs property insurance, medical insurance, and liability insurance. Believe it or not, the NFL's insurance policies for the Super Bowl alone rival that of the entire Olympics.
"Typically with the Olympics, they'll have up to a billion dollars in coverage. I'll bet you the NFL has a minimum of a billion dollars of coverage on the Super Bowl," says Woodall.
Plus—don't forget everything involved in televising the event. Someone has to cover all those cameras for the television. "There's millions of dollars. That camera that goes across the field, we've insured some of those at times, you know the one on the cables, and they run around $300,000."
Planning the insurance for the Super Bowl began as soon as last year's event ended. The NFL will work with one broker but numerous insurance companies in order to obtain enough coverage for the event and its associated celebrations. "Having two states involved, New Jersey and New York, the logistics of it are just huge," says Woodall. "And it's the first Super Bowl that has ever been played in cold weather outside and it's a big risk."
Yes, what happens if the weather is so severe the game has to be delayed? At the time of this article, it's -1 degrees Celsius in East Rutherford, but the good news is temperatures are expected to climb to 8 degrees by Sunday. It is unlikely that the game would be delayed as so much is at stake. Delaying the game would cost the NFL significant revenue from Sunday's broadcast and incur massive additional expenses—possibly in the millions of dollars. The NFL would have to rent the stadium for another night (a fee upwards of $200,000), deal with flight and hotel changes for the hundreds and hundreds of people involved, as well as many other things.
"They might have a policy protecting additional expenses in the event that they were forced to delay it," says Woodall. "Then again, that could run 30 per cent of what you're trying to insure. So if you're trying to insure 100 million dollars of expenses, the policy premium on that could be 25 million dollars."
Like any insurance, the NFL would weigh if the cost is worth the risk. "You never want to use your insurance. It's there if you have to, but you'd prefer that you keep it safe," says Woodall.
And while it might sound like a headache to deal with all of these what ifs, Woodall says it is a lot of fun.
"It really tests you. You work very closely with the security aspects of it, you work closely with the risk management side of it, the clients, and there are no books to work from. It's just your experience and gut feeling."
And no matter which team you're rooting for, the Broncos or the Seahawks, they'll be playing the game in the same fashion as the insurance companies, basing each play off the exact same factors: experience and, perhaps more importantly, gut feelings.