South Florida risks fielding a divided team for the 50th Super Bowl if it cant resolve a conflict with the Miami International Boat Show. Long a hassle for Super Bowl organizers, the boat show issue now seems to be something of a dividing line among local leaders charged with pursuing the countrys largest sporting event.
A recent planning meeting at Sun Life Stadium for the 2016 Super Bowl bid reportedly got heated when Miami-Dades tourism director, William Talbert, repeated his position that Miami cant play host to the Super Bowl and the boat show on the same weekend. The NFL may want to move its championship to Presidents Day Weekend, the boat shows home for decades, and the potential overlap has caused a rift among the key players that helped give South Florida a record 10 Super Bowls.
Weve worked great together in the past, and well work through this, said Rodney Barreto, the long-time head of South Floridas Super Bowl Host Committee. Were right in the middle of negotiating things.
Though the boat show has complicated South Floridas past Super Bowl bids, the pursuit of the anniversary game in 2016 has brought more challenges and intrigue than ever.
In 2010, the NFL began asking cities to reserve Presidents Day Weekend as one of three potential slots for the Super Bowl in case it ever extended the championship schedule into the middle of February. But South Floridas two main tourism bureaus previously have declined to pursue hosting the game if the NFL opted to hold it on the same weekend as the boat show. Instead, theyve jointly bid on only the remaining weekends.
But in recent weeks, Browards tourism bureau has signaled it wont go along with that approach for 2016.
I will not support a soft bid, said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, a government agency. My county wont do it. A soft bid is anything short of what the NFL is looking for. Which is three weekends.
Grossman said Broward is ready to step in and be the Super Bowl hub if Miami-Dade cant because of the boat show. Thats in part what happened during the Super Bowls last trip to South Florida, in 2010, when most of the NFLs official events and facilities were housed in and around Fort Lauderdale.
But such a scenario could complicate matters for the Miami Dolphins as the team considers a pitch to use Miami-Dade hotel taxes to fund improvements to the teams stadium in Miami Gardens. The Dolphins and the NFL have said the improvements, including a partial roof, are crucial for capturing the 2016 Super Bowl from the other finalist, San Francisco, home to a new $1.2 billion stadium in nearby Santa Clara. The losing city will take on Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl.
Barreto, a partner in one of Miamis top lobbying firms, said he is in talks with boat show organizers about moving to another weekend for 2016. But if those negotiations fail, Barreto is also floating aggressive moves to let Miami accommodate the Super Bowl while the boat show takes place on Miami Beach. Those ideas include docking barges or even cruise ships in downtown Miami to accommodate NFL events and the throngs of fans, sponsors and media that come to the Super Bowl each year, according to people involved in the 2016 bid.