NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the big announcements today: Super Bowl L (2016) has been awarded to San Francisco/Santa Clara. Houston was awarded Super Bowl LI (2017). Miami is officially left out in the cold until they get publicly-financed stadium improvements.
Anyone who has been following the process with even a passing interest should know that this was as anti-climactic a decision as it gets. Once a funding package for Dolphins Stadium died without coming to a vote in the Florida House. South Florida bidders and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have no choice but to go back to the drawing board as they have to deal with future competition from Dallas/North Texas, Indianapolis, Minnesota, and in all likelihood, Atlanta (see below).
While Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium will physically host the game, Media Day, and other activities, San Francisco will host most of the peripheral events. Chief among these is The NFL Experience, the temporary theme park, which will be held at Moscone Center. The SF bid committee has not made public all of the details of the bid, but we’ll see everything emerge in the coming months. Daniel Lurie, SF philanthropist and part of the extended Haas family, put together a coalition of business interests and civic leaders to raise $30 million of pledges to host the game, the two weeks of events leading up to the game, and contributions to community groups. The list of companies in the fray is who’s who of Bay Area heavyweights, including Google, Apple, HP, Intel, GAP (yes, that GAP), Virgin America, SAP, Brocade, and others.
NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen couldn’t help but gush over the 49ers’ doing the seemingly impossible:
The fact that somebody turned a shovel for a stadium in (California) is mindboggling.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Jed York and the 49ers still deserve major kudos for getting this done. They combined a steady political drive with some fortuitous on-field success to execute exceedingly well. They’re also getting the benefit of a major first-mover advantage at Levi’s Stadium. When the big game is held there, chances are the MLB’s Lodge will take a look and think, We might’ve been first movers here. (Sorry, the Sharks are still bit players compared to NFL & MLB).
York and Lurie have pitched Super Bowl L as the first truly high-tech experience, with no paper tickets and extremely connected fans in the seats. Whether SF/SC becomes a regular rotation player among Super Bowl host cities will depend largely on how well the technology works, and, of course, the weather during the game.
Not to be lost in the news is that Atlanta was approved for $200 million in G-4 funds for their crazy new stadium to replace the still-young Georgia Dome. If you’re keeping track, that’s now three stadia that have gobbled up a full-sized G-4 share: Levi’s Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings’ next home, and now the Falcons’ downtown digs. With the Packers getting $58 million for a Lambeau Field expansion, nearly all of the G-4 program money has been spoken for, with maybe one full slot or a few smaller slots remaining. The Raiders have indicated that they may not participate in the program, probably because they have to match the NFL’s cash dollar for dollar and get additional privately-sourced commitments to secure approval. The Chargers and Rams are also interested, and in the latter’s case, St. Louis is obligated to give them a ton of money if they want to keep the team in town. The Chargers and Raiders have an uproad battle to get public funds.