BOSTON -- South Florida’s failure to land a Super Bowl during the NFL owners’ meeting on Tuesday wasn’t just a loss but an epic blowout that caused members of the local bid committee to make dire predictions about the region’s future ability to land the big game even as bitter feelings spilled into their public statements.
The San Francisco Bay area was awarded Super Bowl 50 in a competition against Miami that wasn’t much of a struggle. At least 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners voted against South Florida.
Miami’s bid was then matched against Houston for Super Bowl 51 and, again, it was soundly defeated when at least 75 percent of the owners decided that game should go to the Texas city. “The bid was so good today, and knowing people want to be in Miami, I was a little optimistic we could prevail,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “But I think it didn’t surprise a lot of people that we didn’t prevail.”
The results were not surprising because both the Bay Area and Houston have something Miami doesn’t: A publicly financed $1.2 billion stadium is going up in Santa Clara; and Houston’s Reliant Stadium, which was built with public money, is less than a decade old and is already being renovated on the public’s dime.
Both stadiums were at the center of the winning bids. Miami, meanwhile, has Sun Life Stadium. It is almost 30 years old, and two attempts to secure public financing to help refurbish it have failed.
Seeing that, the NFL team owners dropped the hammer on Miami.
“I can tell you that I think the stadium is a very important part of any of these proposals,” NFL Commissioner Roger 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.”
South Florida Super Bowl bid committee chairman Rodney Barreto did not mince words after the vote. He blamed members of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation — specifically representatives Carlos Trujillo and Michael Bileca — for working against the measure to use tourist tax dollars to upgrade Sun Life.
Both Bileca and Trujillo referred to the Dolphins’ bill as corporate welfare, and worked both publicly and behind the scenes to thwart the effort.
“I lay this at the doorstep of a couple of Miami state reps,” Barreto said. “Rep. Bileca and Rep. Trujillo can look themselves in the mirror tonight and declare victory that they stopped the Super Bowl from coming to Miami — and probably for the next 10 years at least, if they invite us to participate again.
“That was an overwhelming vote. It didn’t even go to a second round in either of those votes. It was pretty obvious that the NFL is not happy with us. And by far, if you talk to the NFL staff, we had the better bid. It wasn’t about our bid. It wasn’t about what we put on the table. It wasn’t about the creativity of our bid. It wasn’t about the money we put on the table. It had all to do with the stadium.”
Neither Bileca nor Trujillo returned messages requesting comment.
Goodell, meanwhile, made the point that the same issue that hurt Miami this time could continue to do so in the future.