One of two things is going to happen Tuesday when the NFL awards Super Bowls 50 and 51:
If owners decide the concerns the Dolphins often voice about Sun Life Stadium’s condition are problematic as they vote on awarding the 2016 and 2017 games, the blackballing of South Florida as a recurring Super Bowl site could begin in earnest with two defeats on the same day.
If, on the other hand, owners decide South Florida deserves a game because its bid is a good one and it’s a great host regardless of Sun Life’s condition, that would make the warnings that the NFL would turn its back on the region absent stadium upgrades seem hollow.
Either way, someone is going to lose.
That’s not how the Dolphins look at it. They are a major force in South Florida’s bid to land Super Bowls — they always have been and probably always will be.
That’s why the Super Bowl bid committee is housed at Sun Life Stadium. That’s why Dolphins CEO Mike Dee is on the committee and is in town for this process. That’s why club owner Stephen Ross is promising to make his best effort to get South Florida a game.
The Dolphins’ public stance is they want to host Super Bowls as often as possible — even if their stadium has not been upgraded. Their stance is they’re going into the bid process feeling they did the best they could.
“I like to think our chances are good given the quality of the bid and our history of hosting games,” Dee said. “I think this is the best bid that we’ve ever put together. This is my first time, but those who have been around feel that both financially and the layout of the activities relative to the Super Bowl 50 bid are very desirable.
“We tried to improve the stadium component of the bid, but you have to go with what you have.”
Despite that gung-ho stance, the Dolphins must know that if the NFL awards South Florida a Super Bowl, one of the major reasons the team gives for needing help to upgrade its stadium will be removed.
Ross has said on numerous occasions that the NFL awards Super Bowls to cities that help their teams build new stadiums or help refurbish the ones they already have.
He is stating fact.
New Jersey is getting the February 2014 game because it built a new stadium. New Orleans got the February 2013 game because it renovated the Superdome. Indianapolis and Dallas built new stadiums and got Super Bowls as a result and now both fancy themselves as recurring sites.
But if aging Sun Life somehow breaks the bond between Super Bowls awards and new or refurbished stadiums, the league would be contradicting a strong Ross argument for needing those upgrades.
The league would also be removing the public’s motivation to contribute any type of tax dollars to upgrade the stadium because it could be argued that it is South Florida and not Sun Life that draws the big event.
The Dolphins’ efforts to upgrade their stadium by getting public monies, which failed twice already, would be weakened further by their own league.
But what if the league stays true to recent form? What if South Florida fails to land Super Bowl 50 in competition with the San Francisco Bay area and then later the same day fails to land Super Bowl 51 in a competition with Houston?
That would be an unprecedented doubleheader sweep of South Florida’s Super Bowl efforts. That would mean the region which last hosted a Super Bowl in February 2010 wouldn’t have a game until 2018 at the earliest.
And even that 2018 game would seem like a fanciful dream barring significant work to Sun Life to solve the issue that likely will have caused this defeat.
If that’s the direction the league goes, the Dolphins could understandably yell “we told you so,” from the rooftops because it would vindicate what they have been saying for years about needing upgrades to Sun Life.
Don’t expect that to be the Dolphins reaction. Football teams don’t gloat over losses. They identify what went wrong and try to fix it.
“First of all, if we don’t get this game, in this particular case, it will be relevant to the stadium,” Dee said. “This year we’re up against two communities that are aggressive. I’d like to think our bid is superior to our competition, or at least equal in every category — other than the stadium issue.”
But a loss would perhaps make the need for Sun Life upgrades more clear.
They seem clear to Houston owner Bob McNair. McNair is respected and well-liked among his fellow owners and he is leading his city’s bid for Super Bowl 51. He views the Dolphins’ recent inability to get public monies to upgrade their stadium as very bad news for the team.
“Certainly what happened doesn’t help Miami’s bid,” McNair said. “There’s no doubt about that. But that doesn’t say that the owners couldn’t decide to still go to Miami.”
He was smiling when he said that.