This winter, the biggest NFL match-up in South Florida might be Super Bowl versus Boat Show.
As South Florida readies a bid for the 2016 Super Bowl, it must contend with a major potential conflict on the tourism calendar. The National Football League may move the Super Bowl to Presidents’ Day weekend, already home to the five-day Miami International Boat Show since the 1940s.
It’s a significant enough conflict that, in the past, local tourism officials have declined to pursue a Super Bowl if it fell on boat show weekend. But this time around they may have no choice. For the first time, the NFL is requiring that potential host cities agree to a Presidents’ Day weekend Super Bowl if they want to pursue the big game at all, said two people who have seen the NFL request for Super Bowl bids.
The NFL “invited South Florida [to bid] knowing there was going to be an issue with Presidents’ Day weekend and the boat show,” said Nicki Grossman, Broward’s tourism director. “In the past, South Florida has not responded to a Super Bowl date that included Presidents’ Day weekend. This package is different.”
South Florida vies with New Orleans as the top Super Bowl host, with government and tourism leaders touting the game as both a boon to the economy and a publicity bonanza. But the notion of accommodating both Super Bowl and boat show — not to mention a major arts festival in Coconut Grove — strikes some top tourism officials as a bad idea.
“There is not sufficient hotel inventory available in Miami that weekend to host a Super Bowl,” said William Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have taken a close look at that weekend, and it’s not physically possible in Miami to host Super Bowl during the Presidents’ Day weekend because of the boat show and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. The hotel inventory is all being used for these two great events.”
His comments are at odds with the region’s top Super Bowl organizer and reflect the burden that the boat show may be to South Florida’s Super Bowl hopes for 2016 and 2017. The NFL invited Miami and San Francisco to bid for the 2016 Super Bowl by April 1, with the loser vying with Houston for the 2017 game. Talbert said the bid package states both decisions will be made in May.
For now, South Florida’s Super Bowl organizers face a largely hypothetical challenge, because the current NFL schedule has the Super Bowl occurring two weeks before Presidents’ Day weekend. The bid requirements for the ’16 and ’17 Super Bowls include three consecutive weekends as possibilities for the game, with the latest falling on the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Still, possible logistical hurdles may combine with political obstacles if the Miami Dolphins resume their push for a tax-funded renovation of Sun Life Stadium, the Super Bowl’s South Florida home.
Last year, the Dolphins proposed that Broward and Miami-Dade counties subsidize a $225 million renovation at Sun Life as a way to keep the region competitive for Super Bowls and other large events. The renovation includes a partial roof that would prevent the kind of drenching Super Bowl spectators suffered in 2007 when a rare February downpour hit Miami Gardens.