The San Francisco Bay area is clearly the favorite to land the most significant of the NFL’s signature games in a couple of weeks. Super Bowl 50, a game that will not only celebrate the two finest teams of the NFL’s 2015 season, but also recall half a century in which professional football became the national game, is going to be hard to wrest from the folks out west.
The Bay’s bid, replete with promises of guaranteed tee times at Pebble Beach for NFL owners, a Super Bowl avenue along the Embarcadero and, of course, a game held in Santa Clara’s brand new $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium, landed on the desk of the 32 owners earlier this week.
The bid, backed by Silicon Valley’s Google and Yahoo and Apple, came on an iPad.
Miami’s Super Bowl 50 bid also arrived this week. It came in a 3-inch thick binder.
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This isn’t about Atlantic versus Pacific. This is about old school versus new technology. Brand new stadium — they’re calling it the Field of Jeans — versus a stadium that needs upgrading and isn’t getting any.
No wonder the folks out west are feeling good about themselves.
“Put the cork back in the bottle,” South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto said in dousing any premature celebration by the Bay area. “I don’t think it’s over.”
Well, actually, it really does look like it’s kind of over. If the NFL doesn’t award the Bay area either Super Bowl 50 or 51, that will represent one of the biggest upsets in league history.
Granted, anything is possible when 32 billionaires gather to vote. Proof of that came when they awarded unworthy Jacksonville the game over Miami a dozen years ago.
But these men aren’t dumb. The Bay area will leave Boston in a couple of weeks with a championship game. That seems certain.
The question is whether Miami can also get a game.
Make no mistake, Miami’s bid will compete with both the Bay and Houston, which is the third of the three regions vying for the two games.
Barreto and his committee on Thursday unveiled an extraordinary bid that includes a Navy aircraft carrier docked in downtown Miami and whose flight deck will be used as a football field for visiting fans.
Miami’s $21 million bid includes turning the northbound lane of Biscayne Boulevard into a pedestrian thoroughfare that celebrates the 49 previous Super Bowls. It includes a zip line across Bayside marina. It includes VIP party barges, a London Eye-type observation wheel by the bay, perks for the owners, and did I mention the freakin’ aircraft carrier?
All of this will be packed into a compact area downtown bordered by the mouth of the Miami River to the south and Bicentennial Park to the north.
“We’re extremely optimistic that our bid is going to set a new level and they’re going to have a tough decision to make,” Barreto said. “I think we’ve put some new things on the table that are really exciting and are exciting for the South Florida area.”
Great! So why was Barreto constantly speaking about the bid in the past tense of what could have been or might have been?
He did it three times — making it sound as if Miami had big plans that already got shot down by owners and beaten by the other communities.
It’s not because Barreto was off his news conference game. It’s because he probably realizes that what Dolphins CEO Mike Dee called “the elephant in the room,” is hard to ignore.
The other two communities have state-of-the-art facilities to host Super Bowls and Miami does not. South Florida has great weather, plenty of hotel space, plenty of restaurants, two airports and more than enough ways to entertain the 120,000 or so visitors Super Bowls typically attract.
But Sun Life Stadium, nearly 30 years old, pales as a Super Bowl facility. And so South Florida cannot compete in the one area that perhaps matters most to the NFL.
The game’s venue.
The fact Sun Life will not be renovated before 2015 makes the Miami bid weaker. The Bid Committee was hoping it could tell owners that there was a private-public partnership in place to refurbish the place in time for Super Bowl 50 or 51. But there isn’t.
“We had Plan A and Plan B with respect to the stadium,” Barreto admitted.
So he went with Plan B.
And so South Florida will go to Boston on May 21 with the best bid possible that includes the worst venue of the three.
Does that mean Miami won’t get a game? No, it means people here better hope Houston is off its game because the San Francisco Bay area is certainly getting one.