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Super Bowls to Bay Area and Houston

7:09 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
Credit: USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON, Mass. (USA Today) -- As expected, the Super Bowl is officially returning to California.

At their spring meeting on Tuesday, NFL owners awarded Super Bowl L in 2016 to the Bay Area and the San Francisco 49ers' Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, ending what will be a 13-year drought for the state that has hosted 11 Super Bowls.

The last Super Bowl in California was in January 2003, when Super Bowl XXXVII was played in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.

It's the second Bay Area Super Bowl, coming after Super Bowl XIX at Stanford.

The owners also awarded Super Bowl LI (2017) to Houston's Reliant Stadium, which hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.

South Florida was shut out in its bid for both Super Bowls, which isn't surprising, considering the Miami Dolphins were unable to secure funding for renovations to Sun Life Stadium. Miami and Ft. Lauderdale could wind up being taken out of the rotation, just as San Diego has been, because of an outdated facility.

Next year's Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The following year, the game returns to Glendale, Ariz., which hosted Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

"After losing a Super Bowl (to Baltimore last February), it feels really good to win a Super Bowl," 49ers CEO Jed York cracked.

Houston, which also beat out Miami, was awarded the 2017 title game. It has hosted once before, in 2004.

"I think a lot of them just felt like, hey, it's Houston's time," Texans owner Robert McNair said of his colleagues, who selected his city on the first ballot, requiring at least 24 of 32 votes. "They knew we could do a good job. From 2004 to '17, that's 13 years. So I agree, I think it's Houston's time."

The only previous Super Bowl played in northern California was at Stanford Stadium in 1985.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the 2016 decision, members of the San Francisco bid committee let out a roar of approval, then toasted each other with champagne.

"We are so excited to be able to be able to put on the 'Golden Super Bowl' in the Golden State," York said.

Asked what he believed swayed the owners to vote for San Francisco, York added: "It's the will power of an entire area that gave an overwhelming push for us."

It was the first time in a decade that a Super Bowl was awarded on the first ballot.

"The Bay Area has been waiting for a (title) game since 1985. We have a stadium now ... we are just thrilled and couldn't be happier about this," said Daniel Lurie, a leader of the San Francisco bid.

"We are going to get to highlight the best the Bay Area has to offer."

That includes donating 25 percent of the proceeds from the game to fight poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, York said.

The Dolphins were denied public money for a stadium upgrade in South Florida following widespread complaints about the public investment sunk into the Marlins' new baseball home.

Multibillionaire Dolphins owner Stephen Ross contends $350 million in stadium improvements are badly needed, but he doesn't want to pay for them by himself. Nor does he want a scaled-down renovation of the 26-year-old facility.

"I suspect there's a couple of state reps down in Miami-Dade County where I live who are going to look at this and realize this was a huge mistake," Ross said. "We had the better bid. I could just look at the body language from the NFL staff. It's a shame. We may not see another Super Bowl for another 10 years."

But, Ross said, South Florida "won't stop trying" to get one.

Miami has hosted 10 Super Bowls, tied with New Orleans for the most. But neither will get the 50th.

49ers owner John York suggested that San Francisco's winning effort offered a different lesson in politics.

"If this Super Bowl can show the state of California and other communities the opportunity with a new stadium to bring in fresh business, it could be a catalyst that stadiums can be built for Oakland and San Diego, which are in need of new ones," he said. "This may be the impetus to get one of those done."

For years, it was thought the NFL would seek to stage the 50th Super Bowl in Los Angeles, where the first one was played (but did not sell out) on Jan. 15, 1967. But with no franchise in LA and no suitable stadium projects approved, that hope disappeared.

Next Feb. 2, the game goes outdoors in a cold-weather site for the first time, at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. If that gamble pays off for the NFL, look for other cities in similar climates -- Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver -- to bid for future Super Bowls.

The 2015 game will be played in the Phoenix area.

Earlier Tuesday, owners approved a $200 million loan for stadium construction in Atlanta. The multipurpose stadium could cost as much as $1 billion, with team owner Arthur Blank committed to funding most of it. Blank, speaking at the NFL's spring meetings, called the decision by the team owners an "important milestone" in moving the project forward.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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