Super Bowl 'solution' leaves Ariz. cold

March 21, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

KONA, Hawaii -- Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's idea of a solution for the National Football League's Phoenix problem obviously was not exactly Phoenix's idea of a solution.

When the NFL owners decided Tuesday to strip Phoenix of the 1993 Super Bowl because Arizona voters, in a November referendum, rejected a paid Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for state workers, they also decided to award the Arizona city the 1996 game on a "preliminary" basis.

"We've been looking for a constructive solution to this difficult problem, and I think we've found one," Tagliabue said.

Although it is obvious that Arizona voters must approve the King holiday in a 1992 referendum to get the game, Tagliabue, at the request of new Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, refused to say that to avoid publicly linking the vote and the game.

Asked whether the King holiday was a factor, Tagliabue said, "I'm saying that the factors that will be considered when we make our final decision will be considered when we make our final decision."

In Phoenix, though, that wasn't viewed as a solution, and it is likely to hurt the Cardinals' attendance.

Former Gov. Evan Mecham, who revoked a King holiday his predecessor had established by executive order and has led the campaign to defeat the holiday, went public with the conditions.

"The conditions are that we pass a paid Martin Luther King state holiday. They're still involved in Arizona politics. They have no class at all," he said.

Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., said, "They say it's not linked, but it's pretty clear to me it's linked."

"Those who throw rocks in glass houses had better look at yourself. The NFL hasn't been any leader in civil rights and honoring Martin Luther King."

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