Feeling Super? The Dolphins — and all of South Florida — should be.
On Tuesday, Miami makes its pitch to bring the Super Bowl back to town for a record 11th time.
NFL owners, gathered for spring meetings in Charlotte, will flip through a 526-page bid, listen as Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka pleads the region’s case and watch a sleek video produced by the area’s host committee.
Chairman Rodney Barreto says it’s likely the “most comprehensive proposal” the group has put together in its three-decade history.
But if the vote goes as most everyone expects — with Miami being awarded the 2019, 2020 or 2021 Super Bowl — it won’t be because of a proposed zip line down Biscayne Boulevard or even the area’s famous winter weather.
It will be because Stephen Ross cut a massive check to renovate the Dolphins’ outdated home stadium. So Tuesday is the moment of truth for the Dolphins’ owner: Will his nearly half-billion-dollar gamble pay off and bring the nation’s biggest sporting event back to Miami-Dade County for the first time since 2010?
Barring a stunning rebuke, the answer will be yes.
In recent weeks and months, the league has strongly hinted privately that, after repeatedly snubbing South Florida, it’s again ready to take its talents to South Beach (not to mention Miami Gardens).
“It’s time,” Barreto told the Miami Herald. “This is the most optimistic I’ve ever felt. I think, we certainly needed a big red check in that box that said stadium and roof on it, and Ross made that happen. … This is going to be all about what Stephen Ross has done for the stadium, and it’s positioned us to be a competitor for years to come.”
Miami and the Super Bowl were, for decades, almost synonymous. Some of the most iconic moments in NFL history occurred in our backyard — Joe Namath’s guarantee, Joe Montana’s drive, Prince’s Purple Rain halftime show.
But perfect weather and world-class nightlife alone are no longer enough to seal the deal. The league now uses the game as a reward for cities that either modernize aging facilities or build new ones altogether.
To deliver a Super Bowl for South Florida would be great.
After years of political wrangling on the state and local level, Ross agreed to renovate the house that Joe Robbie built with private funds. In return, the county agreed to pay a premium for each major event held there; a Miami Super Bowl would earn the Dolphins $4 million in public funds.
“It’s really a success fee,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who negotiated the deal with Ross. “You bring me an event, and I bring you a $4 million success fee.”
That won’t be the end of Miami-Dade’s contributions. The NFL typically asks for cash support, free police and fire services and other government help that could run into the millions.
“I think they’ll be asking for traditional contributions,” Gimenez said.
Sure enough, Barreto said the county has already agreed on an undisclosed amount of financial assistance. The amount will be more than the roughly $1.5 million provided by the county in 2010, but might be spread out over several years.
Barreto expects to raise millions more through various public and private groups. Although this will be a “Miami” Super Bowl, Barreto expects Broward County to play a financial role too.
He will need it. The bid includes plans for an ambitious, weeklong festival in downtown Miami, stretching from the InterContinental hotel to Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard. (Yes, there will be a zip line.)
Of course, whatever Barreto raises will be just a fraction of the true cost of securing a Super Bowl: the hundreds of millions of dollars from Ross to renovate the stadium he owns.
The New York-based businessman made his fortune in real estate development. This is among his most ambitious projects yet: Putting a roof on a 65,000-seat stadium that was built some 30 years ago. Since January, there have been between 250 and 400 construction workers on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said.
That’s driven the price tag beyond $450 million.
“The project is over budget, largely due to market conditions and Stephen’s commitment to completing the project in this time frame, which is an extremely tight one for a project of this scale and complexity,” Garfinkel said.
The other 31 owners, several of whom are close with Ross, will recognize that sacrifice, most believe.
Miami's not the hottest city in America. It's the hottest city in the world right now. It's just on fire.
That’s why the mind-set of those in and around the team is not “if” Miami gets another Super Bowl, but “when.”
South Florida is competing with Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Tampa. Of that group, the league will award three games.
The likeliest scenario is that Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles — all cities with new or modernized facilities — will prevail when the vote happens Tuesday. Owners — and more importantly, the big-money corporate sponsors — like warm weather and glamour.
“You look around, it’s really the who’s who in business, celebrity worlds,” Barreto said. “That’s a different fan. It’s a fan that wants something really nice, and wants to be treated to something different. And Miami caters to that. Miami’s not the hottest city in America. It’s the hottest city in the world right now. It’s just on fire.”
Added Barreto: “The owners realize that you can’t send these fans to Minnesota and Chicago and expect them to have a great time.”
It’s the reason why 10 of the first 50 Super Bowls were in Miami. And with the stadium situation resolved, there’s no reason to believe the NFL won’t return for an 11th time soon.
“The most important goal is [the Dolphins] being in the Super Bowl and winning one, but certainly getting one for South Florida would be very rewarding, considering the commitment Stephen’s made,” Garfinkel said. “To deliver a Super Bowl for South Florida would be great.”
Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.
South Florida Super Bowls
Super Bowl II, Jan. 14, 1968, Orange Bowl
Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14: The Vince Lombardi Era ends with the Packers Hall of Fame coach leaving the field atop the shoulders of his victorious players.
Super Bowl III, Jan. 12, 1969, Orange Bowl
New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7: Joe Namath called it. The upstart Jets shock the world — and back up Namath’s bold guarantee — with AFC’s first Super Bowl title.
Super Bowl V, Jan. 17, 1971, Orange Bowl
Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13: Back in Miami for the second time, the Colts make amends, and Johnny Unitas finally gets his first (and only) Super Bowl ring.
Super Bowl X, Jan. 18, 1976, Orange Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17: Terry Bradshaw’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Swann was the difference, as Pittsburgh wins back-to-back Super Bowls.
Super Bowl XIII, Jan. 21, 1979, Orange Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31: These historic rivals meet again, but the outcome is no different than before, thanks largely to Terry Bradshaw’s four touchdowns.
Super Bowl XXIII, Jan. 22, 1989, Joe Robbie Stadium
San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16: This classic produces one of the league’s iconic moments: Joe Montana hitting John Taylor for the game-winning touchdown.
Super Bowl XXIX, Jan. 29, 1995, Joe Robbie Stadium
San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26: Steve Young famously gets the “monkey off [his] back,” throwing a record six touchdown passes to escape Joe Montana’s shadow.
Super Bowl XXXIII, Jan. 31, 1999, Pro Player Stadium
Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19: John Elway goes out on top, throwing for 336 yards and capping his legendary career with his second title in as many seasons.
Super Bowl XLI, Feb. 4, 2007, Dolphin Stadium
Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17: Peyton Manning ensures is place among the all-time greats by winning his elusive Super Bowl in game best remembered for its driving rainstorm.
Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010, Sun Life Stadium
New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17: The Saints were a beacon of hope for their city after Hurricane Katrina. That hope was realized in the last Super Bowl held in South Florida.