Phoenix amends Super Bowl 'clean zone' sign rules after lawsuit

Corina Vanek
Arizona Republic
View Comments

The Phoenix City Council amended a controversial ordinance at its meeting Wednesday, removing both the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee from being part of the decision-making process on temporary signs posted downtown ahead of the February 12 game.

The change was done to try to put an end to a legal fight over the so-called “clean zone,” which required businesses, property owners and residents living in the area to get prior approval from the city as the Host Committee and the NFL to post temporary signs ahead of and immediately after the game.

The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, represented a downtown property owner in a lawsuit over the clean zone rules, alleging that their client, Bramley Paulin, missed out on opportunities to have advertisements on his property because of the rules. The suit argued that the ordinance violated the right to free speech for those located in the clean zone.

Super Bowl week:All the best concerts in metro Phoenix

Phoenix had already halted enforcement of the clean zone following a court order. Enforcement was scheduled to begin on Jan. 15.  

The ordinance required that sign applications be submitted by Dec. 15 and would be reviewed by the city and the Super Bowl Host Committee. Signs that used the Super Bowl LVII trademark without a license or signs that displayed logos for sponsor competitors would not be approved, businesses were told.

The clean zone extends from Seventh Avenue to Seventh Street and McDowell Road to Lincoln Street. The game will be played in Glendale on Feb. 12, and clean zone enforcement was planned to extend to Feb. 19.

The council approved the change Wednesday with no discussion on the item.

A representative from the Goldwater Institute said Wednesday that the group is evaluating how the council’s action will affect their client Paulin.

The Super Bowl Host Committee did not return requests for comment.

Banners and murals:Rihanna has arrived in Phoenix for her Super Bowl halftime performance

Clean zones are common in cities hosting large events like the Super Bowl. However, this is not the first time a city has amended one. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union sued New Orleans on behalf of a preacher and a political activist. The city removed the restrictions as part of the lawsuit settlement. The Super Bowl is scheduled to be in New Orleans again in 2025. The 2024 Super Bowl is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.

View Comments