As the host committee that won the bid to bring Super Bowl 54 to South Florida celebrated its successful pitch, the focus was on the “Super Bowl City” in downtown Miami, the potential financial revenue and related events the region can host.
Tucked into those soundbites and quotes were few mentions of the city where the stadium is located — Miami Gardens.
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The 2020 game will be the third Super Bowl the city has hosted since it was incorporated in 2003. While the city has had some growth and development since then and more is on the way, it’s efforts to keep people in Miami Gardens before and after the game haven’t changed much in the last decade.
Before Super Bowl 41 in 2007, the city hoped to take advantage of its newly incorporated status but its stake in the big event was limited to presenting keys to the city to the head coaches and two other events.
Since then, city leaders have been vocal about Miami Gardens having a role in the game and hope development plans can draw tourist dollars.
“Before, we couldn’t get them to say the game was in Miami Gardens. We’ve got that pretty good. Now we have to get them to understand that other things can happen in Miami Gardens,” said Mayor Oliver Gilbert.
The city receives about $1 million annually in municipal property taxes from the stadium. That amount will likely increase with the $500 million in upgrades currently being made there.
$1 million Miami Gardens’ share of property taxes from the stadium
But Miami Gardens is also hoping for the kind of retail and dining revenue that often comes with hosting the Super Bowl.
“In general we’ll probably see, within the city of Miami Gardens, the greatest impact in retail sales just based on the sheer number of people coming in for the event,” City Manager Cameron Benson said.
“People are excited, they’re trying to go to the stadium and they’re eating and shopping near where they think the team will be.”
Thirteen years after incorporating, Miami Gardens still hasn’t seen the kind of development around the stadium that it dreamed of years ago. The winning package and presentation of the big game bid were primarily focused on downtown Miami, Miami Beach and even Fort Lauderdale. The bid committee’s seven-minute video highlighting the various attractions, hotels and amenities that will be provided didn’t once mention Miami Gardens by name.
The city has developed a much higher profile that is both positive and negative since it hosted Super Bowls in 2007 and 2010. It is dealing with homicides, violent crimes and gun violence in recent years, as well as a lawsuit that was filed in federal court after it was revealed that city police stopped-and-frisked thousands of residents — including hundreds of stops of a Quick Stop employee at the store where he worked.
“Even though bad things will happen, we are not just those bad things,” Gilbert said.
Thirteen years after incorporating, Miami Gardens still hasn’t seen the kind of development around the stadium that it dreamed of years ago.
Development of hotels, noteworthy restaurants and bars is still not off the ground. The closest new restaurant to the stadium is a Sonic Beach that opened in 2013. A few cigar bars have opened in a nearby shopping center but they don’t have the capacity of larger lounges or clubs.
City leaders intend to focus development on the Northwest 27th Avenue corridor, which leads to the stadium. Plans are in the works to develop a town center just north of City Hall that will include hotels, restaurants, a movie theater and a performing arts center.
Further along are plans for a Topgolf facility with driving ranges, a restaurant and bar near the Golden Glades Interchange — the first Topgolf location in South Florida. The company hopes to begin construction by year’s end and finish in the second half of 2017.
After Tuesday’s announcement that South Florida had landed the 2020 Super Bowl, developers and businesses were quick to reach out, Benson said.
“Once that news was received, then the level of intensity to promote more, to meet more, has really skyrocketed,” Benson said. “The Super Bowl only adds to the ambiance of what we’ve already put in place to develop this area as a destination city.”
Benson said staff has already started to develop an action plan that will map out annual benchmarks.
People are excited, they’re trying to go to the stadium and they’re eating and shopping near where they think the team will be.
Cameron Benson, Miami Gardens City Manager, anticipating spillover business from the Super Bowl
Miami Gardens is also banking on a new plan where the city will share building and zoning control over the stadium and its surrounding land with Miami-Dade County, which currently holds all control. City leaders hope it will help them get the notable attractions they want long before 2020. That plan awaits City Council and County Commission approval, and Miami Gardens residents will vote on related changes to the city’s charter in August.
The city also hopes to take advantage of new facilities like the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Center, which wasn’t open for the 2010 Super Bowl. The center hosted a satellite Art Basel event last December and a Nickelodeon Worldwide Day of Play event last summer.
And as new park facilities are developed through the city’s $60 million general-obligation bond, city leaders anticipate those spaces being used for entertainment and recreational purposes for tourists.
When 2020 comes, Miami Gardens will definitely be the site of the 54th Super Bowl but for now, the attractions that could entice football fans to spend money in the city remain as unknown as the teams that will play the big game.
“We don’t know every opportunity that will come up, but we do know we need to be in place and take advantage of them,” Benson said.