Stanford U. has Super Bowl XIX and little Palo Alto has the jitters
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Stanford University president Donald Kennedy was asked to consider the stadium for a Super Bowl site in 1982 by Quentin Kopp, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Mr. Kopp was eager to bring the Super Bowl to the city but found that Stanford Stadium was the only one in the area that met NFL criteria. Although reluctant at first, Mr. Kennedy did not want to say no to Bay Area fans. Nor did Palo Alto.Skip to next paragraph
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The game is expected to create $100 million worth of trade for Bay Area businesses. Although most of that money will stay in San Francisco, Stanford University will reap its share. Alan Cummings, Stanford's associate athletic director, estimates that the university will make between $150,000 and $200,000 from its share of parking and concession profits.
There have been other benefits. Stanford recently made $2.3 million worth of improvements to the 60-year-old stadium -- financed mainly by private donations and NFL contributions. This never would have happened without the Super Bowl.
``The prestige and visibility can never hurt,'' says Mr. Cummings, who adds that as a result of hosting the game, the athletic department has made new friends in the community. The Apple computer company supplied 86,000 souvenir pillows to cushion the stadium's splintery wooden benches and agreed to host the Stanford Invitational Basketball Tournament in December.
``That connection wouldn't have happened without the Super Bowl,'' says Cummings.
But media attention has some people worried. ``I'm afraid there'll be a lot of complaints about the stadium,'' says Stanford alumna Andrea Porter. ``I've been going there for 20 years, so I know what it's like. I have to lean forward with someone's knees in my back to watch the game. I'm worried about the glitzy-type people who fly in for the Super Bowl and then say, what a rotten place.''
According to Michael Goff, an editor of the campus newspaper, the Stanford Daily, students are evenly divided in their reactions to the game. ``Half the students are going skiing,'' he says, ``while the other half are going to hobnob with the tailgaters.''
Some students saw dollar signs when they learned the Super Bowl was coming. Several planned to rent out their rooms for the weekend until the administration expressly forbade it. But other students are upset at the commercialism. ``I find it rather inappropriate,'' says John Abelson, an electrical engineering doctoral student. ``Having a major media event at a university seems beyond the bounds of why the university is here.''
Faculty members have also addressed the issue of whether they want Stanford to be so closely identified in the national conciousness with the Super Bowl. But, says Prof. Elie Abel, chairman of the communications department, ``Most faculty people have more than a passing interest in the game and its outcome. We're thought of as elitists, but we share a common allegiance to the 49ers.''
Much of the Super Bowl madness has centered on getting the $60 tickets, which have been in short supply. Eight hundred counterfeit tickets were seized, and it is said scalpers have been able to sell tickets at a 10-to-1 profit. Even the university president has been deluged with ticket requests. Referring to Queen Elizabeth's visit to Stanford two years back, Dr. Kennedy recently told his colleagues, ``I am now in a position to inform you that members of this academic community clearly have more interest in a professional football contest than in lunching with a reigning monarch.''