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Story by the Houston Business Journal

Sponsors should provide the bulk of the funding for Super Bowl LI, set to take place in Houston in 2017, and not the city itself, said Dave Lesar, CEO at Houston-based Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL), who also serves as the finance chair of the Super Bowl LI Host Committee.

“The financial coverage of the Super Bowl is really up to the host committee. It’s not a burden being placed on the city of Houston or Harris County,” said Lesar. “When we put the bid together, that was one of the aspects we highlighted.”

The issue of Super Bowl funding gained an edge this year after the host city, Glendale, Arizona, suffered under the heavy debt incurred from renovating sports complexes. More than 40 percent of Glendale’s debt was dedicated to paying off sports complexes, according to a New York Times report, which cited a Moody Investors Service report.

Closer to home, an appraisal of Houston’s city debt by the Greater Houston Partnership, released in June, showed a balance sheet that has brought city spending queries back to the forefront.

But Lesar insists that Houston’s hosting benefits will far outweigh monetary expense.

The host committee’s main job is to raise money from the founding sponsors, which, in this instance, includes an all-star lineup of the largest energy companies either based in Houston or with significant operations in Houston, said Lesar.

The founding sponsor list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC)
  • Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX)
  • ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)
  • Energy XXI Ltd. (NASDAQ: EXXI)
  • Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL)
  • Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES)
  • Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL)
  • NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG)
  • Shell Oil Company, an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE:RDS.A)

With the largest companies on the list having announced heavy job cuts this year, it’s only natural to wonder if they’ll fulfill their commitment to funding the mammoth event.

But again, Lesar, who declined to comment on the amount of money committed thus far, brushed off notions of capitulation from energy companies due to spending pressure wrought by the oil slump.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a city. The energy business is a cyclical business, but the Super Bowl is only here once in a 10-year period — maybe,” said Lesar. “The founding sponsors are absolutely thrilled to continue on and just put on the best couple of weeks that we possibly can.”