South Florida’s long shot bid for the 50th Super Bowl would bring a lavish festival to downtown Miami, with football played on a Navy aircraft carrier docked at Bayfront Park, a zipline ride over Bayside Marina and nightclubs set up on barges in the bay.
Rodney Barreto, head of South Florida’s bid committee for the Super Bowl, outlined the $21 million plan Thursday, but also acknowledged a failed effort for a subsidized renovation of Sun Life Stadium seemed to render the pursuit of the milestone game a futile exercise.
In the campaign for the stadium money, Barreto said a Sun Life rehab was crucial if Miami Gardens was going to win the 50th game over rival San Francisco and that area’s new $1.2 billion stadium. The tax proposal died last week in the Florida Legislature and Thursday’s unveiling conveyed the underdog status.
Several times during his presentation, Barreto referred to the plan for the 2016 game as something that could have been.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“This would have been the main entry,” Barreto said at one point, and described an interactive cell phone feature as a game visitors “would have played.”
Nicki Grossman, Broward’s tourism director, several times corrected Barreto, and had him refer to the plan as something that will happen.
“I want to keep expectations low,” Barreto later joked.
Still, Barreto said hope is not lost and said NFL owners will have a “tough decision” on May 21 when they award the 50th game. The loser will take on Houston for Super Bowl 51. Barreto said South Florida would scale down the plan for the 51st game if it managed to knock out Houston for the consolation prize.
The downtown plan transforms Miami’s commercial core into an NFL street festival, with a Ferris wheel overlooking Biscayne Bay. Barreto said that, despite cutbacks in federal spending, the Navy has agreed to moor an aircraft carrier in the inlet by the American Airlines Arena and cover the decks with artificial grass for celebrity football games.
A translucent football ride, attached to a zip line, would run over the water at Bayside marina, and interactive video displays would play great NFL moments as visitors walked down a closed-off Biscayne Boulevard. Four barges moored off the Intercontinental Miami hotel would house temporary nightclubs.
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee called the failed tax plan the “elephant in the room.” The NFL typically rewards new and renovated stadiums with Super Bowls, and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, was in Tallahassee lobbying for the Dolphin plan.
Dee said even without a $350 million renovation of Sun Life, the South Florida bid has its own merits.
“There has certainly been a lot written in the past week about what is not in this bid,” Dee said. “I was happy to hear today about all of the exciting things that are in the package.”