With the clock ticking for Gov. Jan Brewer to veto, ignore or sign SB 1062, local business leaders are expressing fear that Super Bowl XLIX may be pulled from Arizona next year. The controversial bill would allow businesses to use religious beliefs as a basis for refusing service to gays and others without fear of lawsuits. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee joined the vocal majority and opposed the religious-rights measure and the NFL said it is against discrimination and is closely watching the bill. "Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time." The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee said in a statement that one of its key missions is to promote economic vitality in Arizona. "On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation," the committee said. The 2015 Super Bowl is currently scheduled to be held in Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium. The league moved the 1993 Super Bowl to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., after Arizona voters failed to approve a paid state holiday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in November 1990. The 1996 Super Bowl was played in Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium after a 1992 vote in favor of a King holiday. Momentum against Senate Bill 1062 continued to snowball Monday as a growing number of business leaders urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the religious-rights measure, which they say is already harming Arizona's economy. Mirroring complaints expressed last week, business leaders Monday sent a letter urging Brewer to veto the legislation because they say it would expose businesses to a higher risk of lawsuits, hurt efforts to attract good workers and could be seen as discriminatory. "We are troubled by any legislation that could be interpreted to permit discrimination against a particular group of people in the marketplace," the leaders said. "The legislation is also already clearly having a negative effect on our tourism industry, one of the largest sectors of the economy. The bill could also harm job creation efforts and our ability to attract and retain talent." The letter was signed by Tom Franz, president and CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership; Glenn Hamer, president and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Todd Sanders, president and CEO, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; and Ron Shoopman, president, Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Supporters say the bill, written by the conservative-advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit. They say it would tweak existing state religious-freedom laws intended to ensure that individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs. A variety of other businesses also lined to oppose SB 1062. The Arizona Technology Council on Sunday urged Brewer to veto the bill. Anthony Wanger, president of IO, a Phoenix software company, issued a statement Monday urging a veto of SB 1062. "IO values the contribution of all people and stands against discrimination in every form," he said. "Technology and business growth thrive on diversity, and we support diversity in Arizona." Doug Parker, American Airlines Group chief executive,said fallout from the bill would slow down Arizona's economic recovery, hinder relocation of businesses to Arizona and hurt the convention-and-tourism industry. "Our economy thrives when our doors to commerce are open to all," said Parker, who presided over US Airways in Tempe before a 2013 merger with American. "This bill sends the wrong message." Rachel Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is supporting the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association's position against SB 1062 because it is a statewide issue.
Arizona worried legislation could cost state Super Bowl XLIX
USA Today | Feb 25