Picture this: Biscayne Boulevard transformed into a mile-long street party, featuring live concerts, a Ferris wheel and more.
That urban carnival is exactly what the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee promises for downtown Miami, should the NFL’s biggest game return to town in 2016 or ’17.
And that’s not all.
The committee is also in discussions with the league about bringing the Pro Bowl back to South Florida, committee chairman Rodney Barreto told The Miami Herald on Thursday. The league’s all-star showcase was last held at Sun Life Stadium in 2010, the only time since 1979 it was played anywhere but Honolulu.
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“This is going to be something the likes of which residents of Miami-Dade haven’t seen before,” Barreto said. “This is not the hottest city in America. It’s the hottest city in the world.”
Barreto will make that general sales pitch to the NFL in his final bid to bring either the 50th or 51st Super Bowls to South Florida. The league will announce its decision on where to hold the games May 22.
On Thursday, Barreto made part of that plan public, releasing the schematics for downtown Miami’s temporary makeover.
The northbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard would be shut down leading up to the game, and turned into a Lincoln Road-like walking plaza. However, those closures might be limited to nights and the weekend, to minimize the impact on rush-hour commuters, Barreto said.
The main entry to the fairgrounds, named the Super Bowl Fan Village, would be the intersection of U.S. 1 and Southeast Second Street. Located at Bayfront Park, the Fan Village would incorporate Bayside Marketplace and feature amusement rides and music stages, with Barreto promising “nightly” concerts.
Also in the plans:
• The NFL Experience, pro football’s interactive theme park, would be located at Bicentennial Park.
• AmericanAirlines Arena would be used to host events, meaning the Heat would need to give up their home for at least the weekend.
• Museum Park, Jungle Island and the Performing Arts Center would also all play a role.
• The Hyatt Regency and James L. Knight Center would host the sprawling media center.
• And the canal just north of the arena would be turned into Super Bowl Cove.
How exactly that cove would be used was unclear Thursday, one of several questions left unanswered – which is by design. South Florida is competing with greater San Francisco to host Super Bowl 50, and since the final bid package isn’t due until May 8, Barreto is keeping some cards close to thes vest.
Still, the broad strokes are out, and they paint a far different picture than Super Bowls held in South Florida in the past. The bid would make downtown Miami the event’s urban core; South Beach and Broward County were not included in the renderings.
That is not an accident. The very hotels that Barreto hopes to use for Super Bowl events are the ones that would be affected, should the Sun Life Stadium renovation plan pass a May 14 referendum. The bill, which is currently working its way through Tallahassee, includes an increase, to 7 percent from the current 6 percent, in the bed tax for hotels in mainland Miami-Dade.
“All this is contingent on the voters of Miami-Dade County coming through, really supporting the stadium,” Barreto said. “Once we get the side noise out of the way, they will understand what this deal is, they will see the mayor [Carlos Gimenez] has negotiated a wonderful deal. It’s a win-win for everybody.”