With unusual unanimity and speed, N.F.L. owners awarded the 50th Super Bowl to the San Francisco area on Tuesday and gave the 51st to Houston, shutting out Miami and sending a message to that city about the need for stadium renovations before the league’s showcase game returns.
Both Super Bowls were awarded on one ballot, with 75 percent of the 32 teams voting for each winner. It was the first time a Super Bowl was awarded on one ballot since Arizona won the vote in 2003. That Miami was viewed by owners as a less-than-serious contender for the two future games was a stunning turnaround from the results that were forecast a few weeks ago, when Miami was considered the favorite to host the 50th game.
But that was before a plan to hold a local referendum on the use of tax dollars and rebates to pay for stadium renovations collapsed. The Florida Legislature did not allow the vote to go forward, and its passage was far from assured in a community still seething over the public financing of a stadium for the Miami Marlins, whose payroll has since been slashed by ownership.
About 57 percent of more than 60,000 votes cast before the referendum was canceled were against the use of tax dollars. The lingering anger of the South Florida bid committee at the failure to receive stadium improvements was palpable Tuesday afternoon.
“We had the better bid,” said Rodney Barreto, the chairman of the South Florida committee. “I think there are a couple of state reps down in Miami where I live who are going to look in the mirror tonight and regret what they’ve done to Miami. This Super Bowl ain’t coming back probably for another 10 years, in my opinion. We may have a baseball All-Star Game or a World Series before we get another Super Bowl, which is a shame.”
The Miami Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, has said he will not pay the entire $350 million bill for improvements to SunLife Stadium, which opened in 1987. After the vote, Ross again maintained that he must receive some public money to pay for improvements. It is unclear how Ross and his supporters will reach a compromise with state and local politicians who opposed the use of public money, particularly after they lashed out at some political leaders after the referendum did not go forward.
“I think the stadium is a very important part of any of these proposals,” N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “I had a couple of owners express to me privately the condition of the stadium was an important factor to them in their votes.”
Once Miami’s stadium problems became apparent, Santa Clara, Calif., became the favorite for Super Bowl L. That event has been framed by the N.F.L. as a step into the future because the stadium, which is under construction, is in the heart of Silicon Valley and is expected to feature the latest technology available for fans. They will be able to order drinks and food from their seats using smartphones, for instance.
“After losing a Super Bowl, it’s nice to win a Super Bowl,” said Jed York, the owner of the 49ers.
California, which hosted the first Super Bowl in Los Angeles, has not hosted a Super Bowl since 2003 in San Diego, another preferred N.F.L. destination that has fallen out of favor because of its stadium. The N.F.L. has recently awarded Super Bowls to cities that have built new stadiums — like the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl next year — and that has opened up the Super Bowl field to many nontraditional sites, including, in recent years, Indianapolis and Detroit.
Houston hosted the 2004 Super Bowl at Reliant Stadium, and part of its bid boasted of its facilities, which will include the largest video screen in any stadium. Houston has proposed turning the run-up to the game into a 10-day festival, so people who cannot attend the game cab take part in other festivities.
The N.F.L. is considering whether it should move the 2014 draft into the first or second week of May because of a conflict with the scheduling of an Easter show at Radio City Music Hall. But Roger Goodell said that after 2014, the league could possibly hold the draft in other cities. Goodell also said that the league was talking to the players’ union about other changes to the league calendar, which could include starting free agency before the scouting combine and holding the combine later in the spring. The league has long sought to spread its off-season events more evenly. … N.F.L. owners approved $200 million in financing for a new stadium in Atlanta, and lesser amounts for stadium improvements in Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia.
- Super Bowl saga comes down to Tuesday vote (miamiherald.com)
- Super Bowl 50 awarded to Bay Area, Super Bowl 51 to Houston | NFL – The Seattle Times (seattletimes.com)
- Super Bowl L, LI sites to be decided Tuesday (khou.com)
- Super Bowl 50 awarded to Bay Area, Super Bowl 51 to Houston | NFL (seattletimes.com)
- San Francisco wins bid for Super Bowl L (thegreatone22.wordpress.com)