August 18, 2009

‘AIG effect’ hits Super Bowl party plans

The lavish corporate entertaining that usually accompanies the Super Bowl is being scaled back for this year's contest in Miami, tourism leaders say.

A reluctance by corporate executives to be seen living large during the recession is causing the National Football League to scale back its hotel bookings for Super Bowl XLIV, which will be played Feb. 7, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Local hospitality officials say the Super Bowl is being hit by the AIG effect, named for the backlash endured by the insurance company when it was discovered a sales team was sent to a five-star California resort only days after receiving an $85 billion taxpayer bailout, the newspaper said.

People are saying: 'Can we get away with wine instead of champagne?' That kind of stuff, said Carol Bell of the Miami event and public relations firm the Patton Group. It's not as flashy.

Nobody wants to be flashy, especially now, Barton Weiss, a national caterer and event producer based in Miami, told the Herald, predicting a 10 percent to 20 percent drop in corporate spending for Super Bowl XLIV.

The demand is much less, he said. And the demand that is here is very conservative.