Billy's New Jack
The National Football League's new television contract will rake in $17.6 billion over the next eight years.

Think about it. If you stacked up all that cash in $1 bills, it would be 17.6 billion bills high!

The new pact could put up to $74 million more each year into the pockets of each team owner--and that's on top of what they earn from ticket sales, luxury-suite rentals or hot dogs and Cokes. (By comparison, Major League Baseball's network TV deal nets only $11 million annually for each club.)

Has it occurred to anyone else that that kind of cabbage should enable Arizona Cardinals owner Billy Bob Bidwill to build his own damned domed stadium, out of Italian marble?

Bradford of Sunnyslope, the Flash's adviser on matters of high finance, ran the numbers and determined that Bidwill's windfall could easily allow him to build his own football palace, without hitting up taxpayers, as Jerry Colangelo did.

Figuring conservatively--TV-cash flow of $70 million a year for eight years, financed at 8.5 percent interest--Billy Bob could slap up a stadium worth $405,314,147. At 10 percent interest, the stadium tab drops to a paltry $384,425,349, which is in the ballpark (get it?) of the final tab expected for Bank One Ballpark.

Football stadiums are cheaper than baseball stadiums, and Billy Bob's stadium wouldn't need a retractable roof, so he could easily afford to erect a fitting home for our beloved Cardinals.

Bidwill will certainly balk at the Flash's suggestion, mumbling something about needing all that extra cash to remain competitive on the field.

In case you hadn't noticed, the Cardinals have had a couple of off-decades--three winning seasons in the past 21. And they're still in the black.

Wanna Buy Some Real Estate?
Believe it or don't, our esteemed former governor, J. Fife Symington III, is still licensed to sell real estate in Arizona, despite the numerous "errors and omissions" in his failed real-estate projects. Those innocuous net-worth boo-boos (amounting to tens of millions of dollars) cost his lenders millions and necessitated his appointments secretary tentatively blocking out a stretch of time "up the river."

A spokesdude at the Arizona Department of Real Estate, which licenses and regulates real-estate agents, says the agency's investigations division is still working on pulling the Fifester's license.

The paperwork didn't actually get moving until after the February 2 sentencing (the Fifester, according to the department, wasn't an official felon until the sentence was passed).

So, until then, lenders who don't mind imaginary numbers on a few financial statements--like, say, Michael Welborn of Bank One--should watch out for a smooth-talking art-history buff who promises big returns on developments with Spanish-sounding names.

Slick Willey
The Flash was surprised to read that Keven Willey, a reasonable person with an actual sense of humor, had been appointed editorial page editor of the Arizona Republic after "a nationwide search."

But the promotion did not come without a makeover for the former political columnist.

First, she had to turn 40, a feat she accomplished on February 20, the day her promotion was announced. Wouldn't want a childless, thirtysomething divorcee molding public opinion.

Next, an image adjustment. The photo accompanying her column went from sultry blond-maned vixen to neckless dishwater librarian. The matronly look is intended to keep the Bible-thumpers happy. All that blond hair and those dangling earrings meant nothing but trouble. Wanton trouble.

Her column byline also changed, from Keven Willey to Keven Ann Willey. Must reinforce Republic's progressivism while discouraging gender confusion.

The third paragraph of the article announcing her promotion contained the most important information of all--at least for the state's power brokers and the Republic's politically paleolithic owners. It began: "Willey, a Republican, started her journalism career . . ." The piece went on to report that Willey "describes herself as having a very mainstream, middle-Arizonan political outlook."

Central Newspapers, Inc., board member Dan Quayle should take comfort in that knowledge.

Willey is no intellectual giant, but she's no bimbo, either. Her writing can be sophomoric. The fact that she's well-sourced in political circles made her column more appealing of late.

One longtime Republic scribe describes Willey as "bright and nice" and "one of the least skeptical reporters I've worked with."

"She believes in government, believes in the process," the employee says. "She's not an ideologue. She's naive. She has the attitude that if everyone would light one little candle, what a wonderful place this would be."

Still, Willey was an early, frequent and vocal critic of disgraced former governor J. Fife Symington III. She was way ahead of the Republic's editorial page on the biggest story of the decade.

The Flash sends congrats to Keven Ann. Raise some heck, girl.

Stealth Expert
Every year, Arizona State University publishes its excellent Media Guide and Experts List. Subtitled "Who knows what and where to find them," the 1997-98 edition gives the names and phone numbers for those in the know on subjects ranging from "Dams in Arizona" to "Housing in Northern Ireland" to "Vitamin and Mineral Needs of Athletes."

Most of the "experts" are ASU professors, though other university-affiliated employees are supposed to be available for comment. One New Times writer is doing a story on a mental-health topic, and studied the ASU guide. Astutely, he came upon the subject of "Mental Health Issues," said to be the domain of one Annie Newman, a clinical social worker specializing in "Student Health/Mental Health." However, next to the subject topic, in bold letters, reads the warning, "No Media Inquiries." Hmmm. A media guide with no media inquiries? A curious Flash called Newman for comment on this particular mental-health issue.

The book must be accurate. She didn't call back.

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

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