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Super Bowl or bust: South Florida committee previews ambitious pitch for big game

South Florida Super Bowl Committee unveils plans to bid for big game

Rodney Barreto, chairman of South Florida's Super Bowl Bid Committee, speaks Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, at Sun Life Stadium about the committee's bid to bring the January 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl to Sun Life Stadium.
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Rodney Barreto, chairman of South Florida's Super Bowl Bid Committee, speaks Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, at Sun Life Stadium about the committee's bid to bring the January 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl to Sun Life Stadium.

The day when South Florida’s Super Bowl pitch could be — “We’re Miami and it’s January. Thank you for your time” — disappeared with ball-carrying fullbacks.

So when the South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee makes its 15-minute pitch to the NFL next week for Super Bowl 53 or 54, they’ll throw out:

A Super Bowl Park just off Biscayne Boulevard; a Tailgate Town with food, drink and a permanent stage for bands; and a fully renovated and canopied Sun Life Stadium.

They hope that — revealed at Thursday’s news conference at the stadium — will be part of a package good enough to seduce the NFL’s big circus back to town for the first time since January 2010. After all, they’re getting the stadium together.

According to committee chairman Rodney Barreto, the deficiencies of Sun Life have been the NFL’s sole issue with another South Florida Super Bowl. Where warm weather and a naturally jaunty atmosphere once dominated the Super Bowl decision-making process — New Orleans, Miami and Los Angeles/Pasadena stayed in heavy rotation for years — now it’s state-of-the-art stadiums: Dallas, Arizona, Indianapolis, New York, Houston and Santa Clara (San Francisco).

With those stadiums, Barreto said: “We just can’t compete.”

“We can now,” quipped Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel.

“We certainly can now thanks to [Dolphins owner Stephen Ross] and his generosity and writing the $450 million check; we’re competitive now,” Barreto said.

South Florida's Super Bowl Bid Committee unveils some of what will be in next week's pitch to the NFL on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. The committee is trying to get either the January 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium.

Garfinkel said the renovations, already under way for the second offseason, should be finished by the Dolphins’ first preseason game. He did, however, admit the timing is “tight.”

Bidding for a Super Bowl has changed since South Florida snagged the January 2007 and 2010 Super Bowls.

“The competition has gotten very smart. We’ve got competitors who are willing to spend,” said Nicki Grossman, committee director and longtime president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. “New York spent more than $60 million hosting. San Francisco is spending $50 million. Everybody understands what the NFL wants is more than just another place to have a Super Bowl.

“They have come to us with page after page after page of demands. Not just, ‘If you get to it, we’ve love to have it,’ ” Grossman continued.

“These used to be the kinds of things we threw into the pot after we did our bid — ‘Oh, by the way, we’ll give you this and give you that.’ Now, the NFL says, ‘You’ll give us this. When you’re finished with this, you’ll have a page of enhancements and you’ll tell us what you can do that no one else can do.’ 

An example of the NFL’s open-mindedness is the concept of having fan zones and many league events concentrated in one place, creating an energy center.

It’s not a new concept — the NHL and NBA preferred it for its All-Star Weekend activities as far back as the late 1990s — but the NFL fell in love with it during a cold weather city’s Super Bowl week.

“Indianapolis put that together, and the NFL liked it so much, they said, ‘Let’s roll this out going forward,’ ” Barreto said. “So that’s been their new model.”

That’ll be in downtown Miami, along Biscayne Boulevard from the Intercontinental Hotel to Museum Park if South Florida gets either Super Bowl.

While most of the NFL activities will be in Miami-Dade County, Broward will host other Super Bowl-related events.

“That was part of the deal Miami-Dade County cut with Stephen Ross on the approval of the stadium improvements. We’ll deal with that. Broward’s been a great partner. They’re going to get their share,” Barreto said.

“Look, Broward doesn’t have enough hotels, we don’t have enough hotels. In 2010, I talked to the [NFL] commissioner [Roger Goodell] and he said it was great because Fot Lauderdale went to bed early and Miami was still on fire. So, you pick and choose where you want to go.”

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