NEW YORK (AP) – Moments after their bids to host the 2014 Super Bowl were left out in the cold, hopeful organizers from Miami and Tampa began looking at the same thing.
That, of course, was 2015 – and finding a way to get football’s biggest spectacle back to the Sunshine State.
“The sooner the better,” Miami Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said.
With an outcome that wasn’t surprising though no less disappointing, Tampa and Miami missed out Tuesday when NFL owners awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to the new $1.6 billion open-air stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. that the New York Giants and New York Jets will start calling home this fall.
Sun and fun is getting replaced, at least for one year, by the potential for salt and sand. An almost-certain-to-be-cold Super Bowl awaits.
“I think we came very close. We sure scared them,” said Paul Catoe, president and CEO of Tampa Bay & Company. “I think there was a lot of anxiety in their room, a lot of anxiety in our room. It’s a tough pill to swallow because we put a lot of work into this thing and we wanted to win.”
Miami was looking to host for a record 11th time, Tampa for a fifth time. Now, it’s a certainty that Florida will match its longest Super Bowl dry spell ever, four years without hosting football’s biggest game.
And there’s no guarantee that drought will end in 2015, either.
“I was not surprised,” said Rodney Barreto, chair of the South Florida Super Bowl Committee. “I think the fix was in for New York. … The NFL’s cutting new territory here. Somewhat of a gamble, especially if you have a nor’easter come through.”
A gamble worth taking, the majority of owners believed.
“We came in here when people gave us no chance,” Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer said. “We gave New York a good fight.”
Tampa’s bid touted nothing too surprising: The region’s status as a tourism hotbed, a stadium that has successfully hosted Super Bowls before, not to mention the traditionally balmy temperatures.
South Florida stressed similar attributes, but may have been facing a particularly uphill fight – both because of the sentiment supporting a cold-weather title game, as well as comments NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials made in recent months about the need for upgrades at Sun Life Stadium.
The Dolphins took notice.
Even though former owner Wayne Huizenga sunk at least $200 million into upgrades before selling the Dolphins and the stadium to Stephen Ross, the NFL wants to see more. The Dolphins are considering moving seats closer to the field and adding a 621,000-square-foot “umbrella” to shield fans in case of rain, but a down economy makes it a less-than-ideal time to consider such changes.
The bid South Florida offered Tuesday essentially reflected that the current stadium wouldn’t be significantly changed by 2014.
“We made no apologies about that,” Dee said. “We put our best foot forward with the facility that we have today.”
Still, the memory of the Super Bowl in February 2007 is tough to shake – fans running for cover as a strong South Florida rain came down early in the Colts-Bears title game.
“We feel we will win 2015 or 2016,” Barreto said. “Hey, we’re top of the hill. We’re Humpty Dumpty. Everyone’s trying to knock us off the wall.”
There also could be a sense of Sunshine State ennui.
Including the New Orleans-Indianapolis matchup 3 1/2 months ago, four of the past six Super Bowls have taken place in the state of Florida, with Jacksonville hosting in 2005, Tampa in 2009 and Miami in both 2007 and 2010.
On three other occasions (1972-75, 1980-83, 1985-88), the NFL held four consecutive Super Bowls without a Florida stop. The league is now set to do that for a fourth time, with the 2011 game in Dallas, 2012 in Indianapolis, 2013 in New Orleans (when it’ll host its 10th Super Bowl, tying Miami for the most ever) and 2014 heading to the new home of the Giants and Jets.
Arizona is expected to bid for the 2015 Super Bowl, along with Miami, while Tampa said it is mulling its next move.
“They did everything right, but I think the cards were stacked against the typical sunshine climate for the Super Bowl and the tradition we’ve had in the past,” said Sandy McKinnon, chair of Tampa’s host committee. “I think they’ll wait and see how this one turns out in 2014 before they’ll do it again.”