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Monday, October 1
Updated: October 2, 5:03 PM ET
 
Deal for Auto Dealers could be up to $12 million

ESPN.com

The executive director of the National Automobile Dealers Association, the group the NFL is negotiating with to switch convention dates and accommodate Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, denied to ESPN.com on Monday night that there is a tentative deal but acknowledged his group is awaiting the formal proposal from league officials that could lead to one.

Therefore, an accord that would permit the league to move back the date of the Super Bowl from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3, and thus permit a full 12-team playoff field, could be officially struck within a few days.

Room Service
Hotel managers in New Orleans began to pick up the pace Monday as the city moved closer to hosting the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

A swap in dates with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) would leave the New Orleans hotels 5,500 rooms short for the Super Bowl, according to Gary Froeba, general manager of Wyndham Canal Place.

Froeba said the NADA had reserved 12,000 rooms, while the NFL requires 17,500 rooms for its bigger event. Booking is complicated because the rescheduled Super Bowl now falls on the first full week of Mardi Gras. Parades get underway Feb. 1.

"We're down to being 3,000 rooms short," Froeba said. "Because of Mardi Gras, it's unlikely that we will be able to get the original amount of rooms (that was promised to the NFL), but we'll come as close as we can get."

There's also a difference in price. At the Wyndham, which has 438 rooms, Super Bowl fans will pay $375 a night. NADA members will pay in the $200 range for the rooms, Froeba said.

-- Darren Rovell

David Hyatt, the executive director of the NADA, confirmed that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue phoned NADA president Phil Brady himself on Monday at about 6 p.m. ET and told him a proposal would be faxed to the group in the next few hours. That proposal would then need approval by the NADA's board of directors.

An NFL source close to the negotiations confirmed for ESPN.com that the league had indeed drafted a formal proposal for the NADA to consider. But even before the proposal was in document form, Tagliabue presented Brady with a verbal offer. Sources said that Brady told the league that if the written proposal reflected the verbal one, it likely would be favorably received.

"We have logistical problems. We have some other problems. This is not a done deal yet," Hyatt told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Hyatt said a NADA committee sent a reworded copy of the latest NFL proposal back to the league for what he called "technical clarifications." He would not elaborate.

There are four technical issues holding up the NFL's swapping of dates with NADA in order for the Super Bowl to be moved back one week to Feb. 3. Of the 26 hotels the NADA contacted by Tuesday afternoon, four had not responded to see if the transition could be made.

The NADA is expected to receive around $10 million to pay for the cost of changing their convention. The technicalities are significant but fixable. For example, the Hilton, which is the headquarters hotel, hasnít called back to say if the swap works. Neither has the Fairmont, which holds key conference room space. The NADA held a telephone conference call with the 16-member executive committee Tuesday to go over the terms of the arrangement with the NFL. Once the final problems are worked out, the Super Bowl will be moved into February and the wild-card playoff weekend will be restored.

That $10 million still will be smaller than the NFL would have been forced to rebate to television networks if the playoffs had been reduced from the normal 12-team complement.

"Right now, there is no deal, but I would agree the progress that was made today in the call between Commissioner Tagliabue and Phil Brady was significant," Hyatt said. "We are awaiting the fax from the league, which is to be a formal document addressing our expenses and our losses if we do decide to make the switch. But we can't really have an agreement because we don't have the proposal yet."

Tagliabue also spoke with New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, apprised him of progress, and told him he hoped to have more news as early as Tuesday.

Morial told The Associated Press that Tagliabue "indicated they were very close" to a deal.

"I'm 99 percent certain that the Super Bowl will stay in New Orleans," Morial said at a news conference. "There are still details that are to be worked out, but my feeling is very good about this situation."

"In the past 24 hours, our fortunes have turned 180 degrees in the positive," he said.

The NADA convention is Feb. 2-5, and 24,000 people will attend it. If the proposal by the NFL is approved, the automobile dealers would move their convention up one week. The Super Bowl then would slide into its spot.

Hyatt said two weeks ago the NADA "has 500-plus" contracts signed for its convention, that travel plans already have been made by participants, and that the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has begun preparations designed to address the group's specific needs. It appears, though, the NFL is prepared to financially address those concerns.

Under the scenario of the Super Bowl being pushed back to Feb. 3, the Pro Bowl will be pushed back to Feb. 10.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli, Chris Mortensen and John Clayton contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.




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