Super Bowl tab estimated at $21 million

04/01/2013 7:00 PM

04/01/2013 7:41 PM

South Florida must raise about $21 million to put on the 50th Super Bowl in 2016, an organizer said Monday, meaning the cost of hosting the milestone game could be twice as much as it did the last time the NFL championship came to Miami Gardens.

Organizers said the NFL has upped its requirements for host cities, and plans submitted last week include an expensive cluster of pre-game activities in downtown Miami, including barges anchored on the waterfront to create more space for the events. Nicki Grossman, Broward’s tourism director and a member of the organizing committee, said the group expects the overall tab to hit about $21 million, which is less than the $25 million cited by rival San Francisco as its fundraising goal for the 2016 game.

While local governments are asked to contribute cash to the Super Bowl, the bulk of the money would come from corporate sponsors in South Florida. In 2010, South Florida’s host committee raised about $9 million to run Super Bowl XLIV, according to tax records, but the actual price tag was closer to $12 million, said Mike Zimmer, the group’s director.

Zimmer and Rodney Barreto, the committee’s volunteer chair, both declined to comment on the $21 million cost figure or offer any financial details about the preliminary bid, which was due Monday and submitted to the NFL late last week. The NFL requirements for hosting the game remain secret, as does the bid presentation sent to the league. Barreto has declined to release both documents, and officials in both Broward and Miami-Dade said they do not have copies.

“It’s going to be the best they’ve ever seen,” Barreto said of South Florida’s Super Bowl pitch to NFL owners.

Though South Florida has hosted a record 10 Super Bowls, pursuing the 2016 game became the most contentious bid process in recent memory as various conflicts bumped into the process.

The Miami Dolphins want tax subsidies for a stadium renovation, and have cited Super Bowl L as a primary reason for holding a countywide vote on the plan before NFL owners award the game on May 22. In exchange for raising hotel taxes in Miami-Dade to fund the renovation, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross promised to keep the bulk of Super Bowl activities out of Broward so that Miami-Dade could enjoy most of the economic impact from the game.

Grossman said the committee fell about 4,000 hotel rooms short of the 14,000 the NFL wants reserved for Super Bowl, in part because of ill-will generated by the stadium bid. “It’s a tougher sell,” she said of signing up hoteliers for the wholesale rates the NFL requires for Super Bowl. “Broward hoteliers are a little jumpy. They don’t like what they’ve been hearing from the Miami-Dade Commission or from the Host Committee. But everybody enjoys a good Super Bowl.”

Barreto said he expects to have more hotel rooms reserved by the time the final bid is officially due May 1, and he will begin negotiations with NFL executives this month to refine the region’s proposal.

This bid package also marks the first time South Florida has pursued a Super Bowl during the same weekend as the Miami International Boat Show, which is one of the largest tourism events of the year. Twice before, South Florida has declined to offer Boat Show weekend to the NFL should the Super Bowl coincide with the nautical expo, and as recently as November Miami-Dade tourism director William Talbert said it would not be “physically possible” to hold both events at the same time.

But on Friday, Talbert’s Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau submitted to the NFL a bloc of hotel rooms for President’s Day weekend, home of the Boat Show, and the two other weekends listed as potential Super Bowl dates in both 2016 and 2017. South Florida and San Francisco are the finalists for ’16, and the loser will take on Houston for ’17.

“I have been proven wrong,” Talbert said Monday. While hotels have been more reluctant to commit rooms for Boat Show weekend than for the other two, Talbert said enough lodging was secured to pursue a Super Bowl that overlaps with the President’s Day stretch. “I have been pleasantly surprised with the inventory that has come forward.”

President’s Day weekend is considered unlikely for Super Bowl, with the first weekend in February the preferred date. Still, Talbert said tying up so many hotel rooms for Super Bowl would not have a negative impact on the Boat Show. Organizers of that for-profit event disagree. “We’re obviously still extremely concerned about the impact on our customers,” said Cathy Rick-Joule, director of the show.

Barreto said the last time Super Bowl came to Miami Gardens, in 2010, the committee raised about $12 million. Tax records from the group put expenses for the game at about $10 million. San Francisco is expected to raise $25 million for its game, while organizers of the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey are citing fund-raising goals of between $50 million and $60 million.

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