NEW YORK (REUTERS) — The National Football League will retain its 12-team playoff format and play the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3, the league said on Wednesday.
The NFL’s announcement followed its agreement to pay the National Automobile Dealers Association $7.5 million to move its annual convention from Feb. 2-5 to the previous week.
The deal with the car dealers also calls for the NFL to match NADA contributions up to $500,000 to relief efforts stemming from the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
If the NFL had been forced to cancel the wild card round of the playoffs, it would have lost $50-60 million in advertising and other revenues.
The NFL’s regular season will conclude the weekend of Jan. 5-7, which originally was scheduled as the first weekend of the playoffs. The playoffs now will begin Jan. 12-13 with wild-card weekend.
The AFC and NFC Divisional Playoffs will be Jan. 19-20, the Conference Championship games on Jan. 27.
The Super Bowl has never been played in February.