All 32 owners met for one day at the Hyatt Harborside directly across Boston Harbor from downtown Boston to hear final presentations from Miami, San Francisco and Houston. They rewarded the iconic 50th Super Bowl to San Francisco largely because of the brand new $1.2 billion stadium being built in nearby Santa Clara, and then gave Super Bowl 51 to Houston. That city’s Reliant Stadium is 15 years younger than Sun Life Stadium and is scheduled for some upgrades, but the 50th Super Bowl was the one that really seemed destined for Miami and the stadium owned by Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross.
“Congratulations to San Francisco and Houston on Super Bowl L and LI,” Ross said. “However, we don’t think there’s a better place in the country to host the Super Bowl than right here in South Florida. I am grateful for the hard work and creative energy that the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee showed in their bid. Today’s decision doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm to pursue Super Bowls in the future, since we are steadfast in out belief that those games are good for the South Florida community.”
Any momentum the Miami contingent had hoped to carry into the vote was stymied a little more than two weeks ago. That’s when a bill supporting a private/public partnership that was to utilize a 1 percent increase on hotel takes on the mainland and a tax rebate on goods and services sold at the stadium to modernize Sun Life Stadium died on the House floor in Tallahassee.
A public referendum scheduled for May 14th was canceled as a result of what happened in the Legislature and the Committee was left with having to focus it’s presentation away from the stadium and on downtown Miami. They also revealed that approximately $36 million already had been raised and there was a strong sense at the end of the day that theirs was the best proposal.
South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto and former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo presented the bid and showed an impressive video and Power Point presentation outlining a Super Bowl Village and a Super Bowl Cove. A slip located in between Bicentennial Park and American Airlines Arena would host a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and there was to be a zip line ride across the waters of Bayside Marina.
“Miami has added enhancements to our bid that are greater and more spectacular than any bid before,” Cefalo said during his official presentation. “The South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee will invest approximately $37 million to bring a Super Bowl to Miami for a record 11th time and the Pro Bowl for a third time. We want to celebrate Super Bowl 50 with the first of its kind opening ceremony legacy charity concert for up to 40,000 attendees. All proceeds will benefit the NFL Player Care Foundation that is supporting medical research as well as financial grants to qualified NFL alumni for neurological care.
“South Florida will again offer our proven track record of success in hosting both the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl, where like in 2010 we will sell out both games, 145,000 tickets. The evolution of South Florida also includes its vibrant waterfront urban core, where we look forward to celebrating the NFL’s legacy at Super Bowl Park entertaining hundreds of thousands with creative events, energy at a sense and a scale that to make the 50th Super Bowl truly momentous.”
But the stadium issue proved to be too big of an obstacle to overcome, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated that during his press conference at the end of the one-day meeting.
“I can tell you that I think the stadium is a very important part of any of these proposals,” Goodell said. “I had a couple of owners that did express to me privately that the condition of the stadium was an important factor for them in their votes, but again I don’t know all 32 perspectives on it.”
What cannot be denied is the fact that Miami remains a desirable destination for the league’s showcase event and Barreto, Cefalo and the Committee made it a point to play on that aspect.
“Their proposal was really quite exciting,” Goodell said. “They talked an awful lot about the great history and tradition we have of Super Bowls in Miami and I think owners would like to be in Miami. But it’s competitive right now. We have great stadiums coming onboard that we haven’t even played an NFL game in that are going to be hosting the Super Bowl. Others are investing significantly to make sure their stadium is state-of-the-art and is a great platform and stage for the Super Bowl. That’s what we want.”
And that message has now been made abundantly clear.