Positive sign for Arizona's pro, college teams

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Cardinals figure to net $3.5 million during the next two years as the result of a settlement with Arizona State University over revenue from sponsorship signs in Sun Devil Stadium.

Team vice president Michael Bidwill and ASU president Michael Crow confirmed the agreement Monday and said the former opposing litigants would be partners in an effort to promote football.

The state Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public universities, approved the settlement Friday.

"We're the only region in the past decade or so that's built four new facilities for the four major sports," Bidwill said. "We've also built baseball facilities for spring training. We've got a huge golf industry here that drives tourism. Sports is a major industry for Arizona, so this is important that we all get along."

Crow said he was uncomfortable being at odds with an NFL franchise that has been ASU's tenant since 1988. He and Bidwill began a round of talks in late December that led to the agreement.

The settlement allows the Cardinals to sell eight signs inside the university-owned stadium in Tempe and keep the game, parking and concession revenue -- estimated at $1.75 million per season -- after deducting ASU's expenses for maintenance and staging the games. In 2006, the Cardinals will move into a retractable-roof stadium in Glendale, a suburb on the other side of Phoenix.

The Cardinals also agreed to enter into a marketing partnership to boost football in general and support each other's programs, employ unspecified numbers of ASU students as interns and provide instructors and guest speakers for the university's graduate-level sports business program.

The dispute arose in 1999 when the Cardinals sued for $21
million in damages because of new signs installed by the university
at Sun Devil Stadium during a renovation.

The videoboard installed by ASU has permanent sponsorship
panels, and the Cardinals contended that the new sign made it
impossible for the team to sell sponsorships.

The Cardinals said they had a right to approve any new signs,
but the university countered that the team's rights under a 1994
lease renegotiation only applied to temporary signs.

An arbitrator ruled last year that the team was only entitled to
about $12 million.

"We hope that this is the beginning of a new era for
cooperation in football," Crow said. "You'll see us doing things
together, you'll see us moving forward together. We think it's for
the benefit of everybody."