NADA looks for win from no-win situation

Path to a Super deal
Sept. 11 Terrorists attack

Sept. 16-17 NFL postpones games to season's end

Sept. 18 NFL asks NADA to switch 2002 convention dates for Super Bowl; NADA declines request

Sept. 24 Sen. John Breaux, (D-La.) urges the 2 sides to negotiate

Sept. 25 NFL, NADA task forces meet to exchange ideas

Sept. 26-Oct. 2 Behind-the-scenes give-and-take narrows differences

Oct. 3 Deal to switch dates is reached

Oct. 5 NADA offers convention fee waivers and discounts

Pressured by politicians, abused by sports talk show hosts and wary of angering its members, the National Automobile Dealers Association was in a virtual no-win situation when it was asked to switch its convention with the Super Bowl.

But now, more than three weeks later, organization leaders hope the episode will turn out to be a net positive for dealers and for NADA.

"It was the right thing to do for America," said NADA Chairman Bob Maguire, sounding the theme that underscored talks between the association and the National Football League and has helped smooth the complicated switch.

12 cancellations

As of last week, just 12 of more than 350 exhibitors had canceled plans to participate in the Jan. 26-29 convention in New Orleans, which was rescheduled from Feb. 2-5 so the Super Bowl can be Feb. 3.

About 200 more exhibitors are to be heard from, NADA spokesman David Hyatt said Thursday, Oct. 11.

Similarly, the number of attendee cancellations so far is a "microscopic" portion of the 27,000 to 30,000 who were expected to be there, he said.

Despite nasty jibes from some talk show hosts, mainstream media have been fair in describing NADA's role in the agreement to switch dates.

"America's new-car dealers came out of this as they should, looking pretty good," said Hyatt, who alone did more than 300 interviews about the negotiations over a 10-day period.

Dealers did not seek - nor are they getting - free Super Bowl tickets, and they don't expect any special treatment on Capitol Hill as a result of the agreement, Hyatt said. But he did say NADA could stand to gain politically from the general good will created.

Maguire, in an appearance at the Automotive Press Association in Detroit on Tuesday, Oct. 9, described some of the pressure NADA got from outside and inside the organization.

A senator cajoles

On Sept. 24, Sen. John Breaux, D-La., summoned NADA President Phil Brady and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to his office on Capitol Hill.

Breaux "wrapped himself in the flag" and told Tagliabue and Brady to find a way to make it happen, Maguire said. "He (Breaux) said 'a lot of people have given and now you two are going to give too,' " Maguire quoted the senator as saying.

Maguire said he also got a call from Tom Benson, "who owns 33 dealerships" as well as the New Orleans Saints.

Benson, who sits on the NFL's finance committee, told Maguire it was crucial to keep the Super Bowl in New Orleans because of negotiations with the city over a bond issue to make improvements at the Superdome, where the Saints play and where the Super Bowl will be played.

"He said, 'Bob, you know it's important for us to get this done. If you get this deal done, there isn't anything you can't have,' " Maguire said.

NADA determined its maximum risk in swapping dates was about $11 million. But it settled for $7.5 million and other considerations from the NFL.

Said Maguire: "What constitutes a good deal? A good deal is when nobody likes the deal they got. That's why it was a good deal."

Path to a Super deal
Sept. 11 Terrorists attack

Sept. 16-17 NFL postpones games to season's end

Sept. 18 NFL asks NADA to switch 2002 convention dates for Super Bowl; NADA declines request

Sept. 24 Sen. John Breaux, (D-La.) urges the 2 sides to negotiate

Sept. 25 NFL, NADA task forces meet to exchange ideas

Sept. 26-Oct. 2 Behind-the-scenes give-and-take narrows differences

Oct. 3 Deal to switch dates is reached

Oct. 5 NADA offers convention fee waivers and discounts
You can reach Edward Lapham at elapham@crain.com

0

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters