Forgotten Super Bowl victims
By Millie Diaz Managing Editor
I caught an article Sunday on citylab.com, a branch of The Atlantic magazine, because the headline caught my eye: When Super Bowl Fans Displace Homeless Kids.
It hooked me and I clicked on the link. Written by female Arfie Ghedi on Feb. 2, it highlighted how many homeless families had to relocate for 10-14 days due to the influx of tourists for the Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
You might have seen this story on the news, or read about it in the coming days before the big game. Or you might be wondering, “why would Super Bowl fans stay where homeless people would?”
This is where it gets interesting.
Project REACH, a Minnesota school program that attempts to provide housing and support services to families at poverty level, works with Ramsey County for funding money. In 2015 REACH supervisor Anne McInerney tried to work with the schools and fire departments to shelter the homeless, but the county chose to use the funding for motel expenses to house them instead.
McInerney gets enough money to house 15 families for the winter months between Nov. and April.
But this year, the REACH funding didn’t reach far enough. Hotels gouged their prices for Super Bowl fans –which they paid hand-over-fist– and the county chose to take the money and leave the homeless out to dry.
Now, my thoughts on gentrification and affordable housing are for a whole other column, so I’ll stop right there.
Fortunately, St. Paul public schools (where most of the homeless have sprouted from) raised $12,000 within a week and found churches and shelters with open doors.
Then, I came across a paragraph in the article saying the NFL donated $1 million to offset the hit to the state taxpayers. I said out loud to myself “That’s not a lot (compared to the money spent on commercials and halftime shows), but it’s something, right?”
I read on, only to learn the
NFL donated the money to the MN Super Bowl Legacy Host Fund, a nonprofit group for the Twin Cities that builds and renovate parks, athletic fields, playgrounds and community gardens across the state. They grant one each month in the year before the Super Bowl occurs.
Granted, the money goes to nonprofits groups promoting health and fitness to children, but isn’t shelter a lower-order, more important physiological need on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy?
McInerney was quoted as saying she doesn’t dispute the economic boost (a Super Bowl brings), but she would’ve appreciated an earlier “heads-up” communicative approach from the head of the NFL committee, rather than the mere week she was given.
The weather in Minnesota played a part in amplifying my imagination on the subject: at kickoff the temperature was minus one degree. I’m sure the U.S. Bank Stadium was perfectly climate-controlled for the event, but what about tailgaters? What about the traveling conditions to get to Minneapolis or St. Paul?
Super Bowl VI, played outdoors in New Orleans, hit temperatures of 24 degrees; the first “cold-weather” bowl was XVI in Detroit in 1982, with an outdoor temperature of 13 degrees. Fortunately, the indoor game at Pontiac Silverdome was a pleasant 72 degrees.
I understand the possibility the NFL mafia might come to get me for commenting on their lack of awareness on the unintended consequences of their circus, but I’m okay with it.
All I’m urging is for people to give a second thought to what their actions can produce.
As McInerney said best in the article: “There are people in the state who benefit…but there’s always going to be a group of people who it’ll be detrimental for. What could we be missing?”