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Phoenix Business Owner Takes On City, Claiming City Is Allowing NFL To Bully Businesses Over Advertising

A business owner in Phoenix recently sued the city, asserting that officials wrongfully gave the NFL veto power over signage in the area to create a “clean zone” for the upcoming Super Bowl.
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A business owner in Phoenix recently sued the city, asserting that officials wrongfully gave the NFL veto power over signage in the area to create a “clean zone” for the upcoming Super Bowl.

As Reason magazine explained, Phoenix plans to host a running outdoor festival in its downtown area leading up to the big game.

“To prepare for the festivities, the city government passed a resolution in October 2022 that requires all temporary signage in a designated ‘clean zone’ to receive preapproval from the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee,” the magazine reported.

Reason noted the city claims it only wants to protect fans from scammers and to protect the NFL and its partners from competing advertisements. The primary concern appears to be stopping dealers of counterfeit NFL gear and game memorabilia.

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As a city official told Reason, “The NFL sponsors are making a huge financial commitment to be one of those designated sponsors, and we need to provide that protection to those sponsors in the downtown area where a lot of the Super Bowl events are happening.”

On the other hand, Bramley Paulin, who owns two properties in the “clean zone,” told Reason the regulation has hurt his business.

“The city of Phoenix is letting the NFL decide what I can and cannot say on my own property. That’s not right,” Paulin said.

In response, he sued the city asserting the restrictions have cost him advertising revenue and violate the First Amendment.

“Paulin’s complaint argues that signage restrictions violate the Arizona Constitution’s protections of free speech and due process,” Reason reported.

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“The lawsuit also says that the city’s policy unconstitutionally delegates authority to private parties—in this case, the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.”

Paulin sued after he appealed to the city for leniency and got no response after pointing out the constitutional flaws in the regulations.

The “clean zone” idea is nothing new, and in some cases, it can be a revenue generator for the government.

For example, in December 2020, WFTS reported that the city of Tampa set up a clean zone around Raymond James Stadium and in other parts of downtown Tampa ahead of the February 2021 Super Bowl.

At the time, WFTS noted that Tampa forced restaurants and other businesses inside these clean zones to pay $75 for a special-use permit to advertise the Super Bowl. Local vendors who violated the rules faced fines as much as $450.

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