$2M+ for NFL Challenge

The contract for Cayman to host the DIRECTV NFL Quarterback Challenge is expected to cost well more than $2 million over the next three years.

Michael Vick

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick takes the field Saturday in the NFL Quarterback Challenge. Photo: Tammie C. Chisholm

According to Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Charles Clifford, the three-year commitment will cost US $700,000 for this year’s competition. Mr. Clifford told the Legislative Assembly this month that the costs will increase by 10 per cent in the next two years.

Mr. Clifford made his comments while comparing the Quarterback Challenge to its forerunner, the Cayman Challenge in 2004 which he said cost $775,000 for one year.

He said money spent on the event amounted to free air-time for Cayman in the lucrative US market. The competition will first air on ESPN 3 August, with several additional airings afterward.

‘If we were to try and buy that type of TV time or exposure, we simply couldn’t afford it,’ Mr. Clifford said.

He also noted the 19 May event marks the first time the NFL has agreed to host the Quarterback Challenge outside a US territory.

‘We will have the ability to do direct marketing to the NFL fan base,’ said Mr. Clifford, adding that the islands would likely have to spend big dollars on a marketing campaign to millions of American football fans without the NFL’s aid.

Opposition MLA Cline Glidden, Jr. who attended the event Saturday said Cayman has a great opportunity over the next two years to market this event. But he said that marketing must be done correctly.

‘Obviously, the time before this one was too short,’ Mr. Glidden said. ‘But the hope is going forward, you’d be able to market that and brand it with some of the tourism partners here in the Cayman Islands.

‘If that’s done correctly, then we will in my opinion get good value for the money spent.’

It’s estimated some 1,700 Cayman Islands residents paid to watch the event, the latter stages of which were affected by a light rainfall resulting in slips and falls by NFL wide receivers participating in the contest.

There were a few minor mishaps including the introduction of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Vick walked onto the field tugging on his Falcons jersey to make sure everyone knew what team he played for.

Caymanian Compassreporter Alan Markoff contributed to this story.