Miami's attempt to host an unprecedented 11th Super Bowl was derailed today when NFL owners awarded Super Bowl 50 to the San Francisco Bay area and Super Bowl 51 to Houston.
In deciding against Miami, the owners showed a clear deference to communities that had invested heavily in building or refurbishing their football facilities. Santa Clara is building a $1.2 billion stadium for the San Francisco 49ers while Houston funded Reliant Stadium a decade ago and recently approved a $25 million upgrade for new high definition video screens.
The bid by Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium included promises that the signature Super Bowl 50 game would celebrate the past 49 years of NFL championship games but, more importantly, set the tone for the future of the game. Levi's Stadium is solar powered and thus energy neutral on game days. Numerous Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Yahoo and Apple also have put their technology behind the stadium.
"We've been looking forward to this moment since 1985," said Bay Area Super Bowl committee chairman Daniel Lurie. "We have a new stadium now and we're very excited the game is coming back."
Having lost in a head-to-head matchup against the Bay Area for Super Bowl 50, Miami then was pitted against Houston for Super Bowl 51.
The bid by Houston was portrayed by one source as something of a repeat of the bid submitted by the community in advance of winning the 2004 game. But the Houston presentation did promise some new additions.
The city claimed it has surpassed New York as the most ethnically diverse city in the country. To that end the Houston Super Bowl committee pitched a "Super Bowl El Centro" exhibit that it said would attract three million national and international visitors.
Ric Campo, Houston's Super Bowl bid committee chairman, also told owners the city intended to turn the downtown Houston skyline into an NFL exhibit called "Super Bowl decor."
The presentation was ultimately good enough to beat Miami.
The vote by owners against Miami cuts more than just an average doubleheader sweep. It sends a chilling message that perhaps Miami has lost its prized status as a recurring host within the Super Bowl rotation.
The city has hosted 10 previous games but the last one came in 2010 and all the games until 2018 have been awarded, meaning Miami will see a minimum eight-year hiatus from the game. It's possible that gap between games may widen if the NFL continues to award games to cities that build new stadiums.
Atlanta plans to build a new stadium, Minneapolis plans to build a new stadium and Indianapolis and Dallas plan to continue bidding on games after building new facilities that won Super Bowl bids and successfully hosted games.
The Miami contingent, led by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, had come to this spring NFL owners' meeting optimistic that their presentation could succeed.
"There's no one better that can do it because we know how to throw a party," Miami Super Bowl bid chairman Rodney Barreto said prior to making his presentation. "We'll be giving the owners an incredible celebration in downtown Miami, recognizing the previous Super Bowls and contgratulating them on the 50th anniversary."
Despite rumors that Dan Marino or Jason Taylor would be part of Miami's bid, they were not. The presentation was hosted by former Dolphins receiver Jimmy Cefalo, who has had a long career in television in radio.
Cefalo introduced a film about Miami as part of the presentation. He said he rehearsed his part three times leading up to the trip to this meeting and again Tuesday morning.
"Miami has added enhancements to our bid that are greater and more spectacular than any bid before," Cefalo told owners in his 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.”
Ultimately, no amount of rehearsal, no amount of party promises, no amount of good weather and plentiful hotel rooms could sway owners to pick Miami.