The 50th Super Bowl goes to San Francisco Bay Area
By BARRY WILNER
BOSTON — The NFL will celebrate its 50th Super Bowl in northern California, where its newest, most high-tech venue is being built.
That makes South Florida, in the midst of a spat over expensive stadium renovations, a loser for the 2016 game.
And Miami took a double defeat when Houston was awarded the 2017 championship game.
In two separate votes, NFL owners Tuesday went with the both San Francisco Bay Area and Houston on the first ballot at their spring meetings. The 49ers’ new home is set to open next year in Santa Clara, and will host the first Super Bowl in the area since 1985.
Houston staged the 2004 Super Bowl. Miami has hosted 10 of them — including the Jets upset of the Colts in 1969 — and is tied with New Orleans for the most. But South Florida got rejected twice after the Florida Legislature did not support financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium.
“We are so excited to be able to be able to put on the ‘Golden Super Bowl’ in the Golden State,” 49ers CEO Jed York said.
They will stage it in what is being promoted as the most technologically advanced stadium in the world, and earned that right on a day when the NFL made a $400 million deal with Microsoft to upgrade the fan viewing experience. Levi’s Stadium figures to be the first cashless, ticketless venue in NFL championship history, with WiFi capability for 75,000 people.
“After losing a Super Bowl (to Baltimore last February), it feels really good to win a Super Bowl,” York cracked.
Houston hosted once before, in 2004, and is calling the 51st Super Bowl an international experience that will include fans from Mexico.
“I think a lot of them just felt like, hey, it’s Houston’s time,” Texans owner Robert McNair said of his colleagues. “They knew we could do a good job. From 2004 to ‘17, that’s 13 years. So I agree, I think it’s Houston’s time.”
The only previous Super Bowl played in northern California was at Stanford Stadium in 1985.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the 2016 decision, members of the San Francisco bid committee let out a roar of approval, then toasted each other with champagne.
Asked what he believed swayed the owners to vote for San Francisco, York added: “It’s the will power of an entire area that gave an overwhelming push for us.”
It was the first time in a decade that a Super Bowl was awarded on the first ballot.
“The Bay Area has been waiting for a (title) game since 1985. We have a stadium now … we are just thrilled and couldn’t be happier about this,” said Daniel Lurie, a leader of the San Francisco bid.
“We are going to get to highlight the best the Bay Area has to offer.”
That includes donating 25 percent of the proceeds from the game to fight poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, York said.
The Dolphins were denied public money for a stadium upgrade in South Florida following widespread complaints about the public investment sunk into the Marlins’ new baseball home.
Multibillionaire Dolphins owner Stephen Ross contends $350 million in stadium improvements are badly needed, but he doesn’t want to pay for them by himself. Nor does he want a scaled-down renovation of the 26-year-old facility.
“I suspect there’s a couple of state reps down in Miami-Dade County where I live who are going to look at this and realize this was a huge mistake,” South Florida bid committee chairman Rodney Barreto said. “We had the better bid. I could just look at the body language from the NFL staff. It’s a shame. We may not see another Super Bowl for another 10 years.”
But, Ross said, South Florida “won’t stop trying” to get one.
Goodell said some owners privately told him they were concerned with the stadium situation in Miami.
49ers owner John York suggested that San Francisco’s winning effort offered a lesson in political cooperation.
“If this Super Bowl can show the state of California and other communities the opportunity with a new stadium to bring in fresh business, it could be a catalyst that stadiums can be built for Oakland and San Diego, which are in need of new ones,” he said. “This may be the impetus to get one of those done.”
For years, it was thought the NFL would seek to stage the 50th Super Bowl in Los Angeles, where the first one was played (but did not sell out) on Jan. 15, 1967. But with no franchise in LA and no suitable stadium projects approved, that hope disappeared.
Next Feb. 2, the game goes outdoors in a cold-weather site for the first time, at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. If that gamble pays off for the NFL, look for other cities in similar climates — Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver — to bid for future Super Bowls.
The 2015 game will be played in the Phoenix area.
Earlier Tuesday, owners approved a $200 million loan for stadium construction in Atlanta. The multipurpose stadium could cost as much as $1 billion, with team owner Arthur Blank committed to funding most of it. Blank, speaking at the NFL’s spring meetings, called the decision by the team owners an “important milestone” in moving the project forward. The owners also approved financing for renovations of stadiums in Charlotte and Philadelphia.
Speaking with reporters after the votes, Goodell also said:
— The draft will be held between May 8 and May 17 next year because the venue, Radio City Music Hall, is hosting an Easter show in April. He expects the draft will remain in May, with other adjustments to the NFL’s calendar, including the dates for the combine and the opening of free agency, to be discussed with the players’ union.
— A third international game in upcoming seasons could be added now that both games for 2013 in London have sold out.
— The Pro Bowl could be moved from Hawaii back to mainland cities after the 2014 game, but will remain on the Sunday one week before the Super Bowl.
— Expanding the playoffs, and cutting two games off the preseason, still are being discussed. A reduced preseason could happen with either the current 16-game regular season or with an 18-game schedule.
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