Senate committee approves Super Bowl bill

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A bill in the Arizona Legislature that would reimburse the city of Glendale for public-safety costs associated with hosting next year's Super Bowl has survived another hearing.

The heavily watered-down House Bill 2547 would require Arizona to cover half the costs Glendale will incur in providing public safety for the 2015 Super Bowl, which will be played in the University of Phoenix Stadium. The House of Representatives approved the bill earlier this month, and it is now making its way through the Senate.

Threats to safety such as the Boston Marathon bombings last year have increased costs of security at major events, officials said.

Glendale officials estimate they will spend $3.2 million next year on public safety. The city spent $2.3 million on public safety for the 2008 Super Bowl, which it also hosted.

"The fact is we have to be able to do it safely, and make sure that any visitor that comes to Arizona, that they have an experience that they're always gonna remember fondly, and that more people come to Arizona," Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said at a Senate committee hearing on Friday. "We have one chance, period. If we screw up one time, the bad guys win."

Weiers said the city is not in the financial position to pay for those expenses, and that it will not be able to host another game after 2015 without additional help.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would originally have reimbursed the city up to $4 million for public-safety costs. But several amendments along the way have watered down the bill, and it now would only stand for one year, meaning it would benefit only Glendale. The bill creates a study committee to determine whether the state should continue the reimbursement program in the future.

The Senate Committee on Government and Environment unanimously approved the bill on Friday, although one legislator expressed concern.

Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said she has received numerous emails from constituents who believe the bill benefits only Glendale and not the rest of Arizona.

"I understand that this is not the case," Ward said, adding that she could change her vote in the future if she continues to get emails opposing the measure.

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