Being the Bay Area, and in particular San Francisco, is a blessing and a curse. We all know this from living here. Picture postcard vistas go hand-in-hand with intolerable commute times. Cultural appreciation is in a constant struggle with money overwhelming and subsuming everything. Despite the enormous homeless population and obscene rents, the fact is that those are not issues for tourists, for the NFL, or the national media. The Bay Area is as fun a tourist locale as there is the world, so it would seem natural for the Super Bowl to come here when the conditions (read: modern stadium) were right.
Although the action on the field at Levi’s Stadium left much to be desired, the act of hosting the Super Bowl went quite well. Traffic was difficult throughout the week, and the closure of Market Street was a drag for many downtown employees, but Levi’s Stadium held up well, as did Super Bowl City and various other peripheral venues. El Niño took a nice, long break to accommodate the game, perhaps a sign that the football gods hold more sway than the weather gods (the weather gifted New York two years ago as well).
Thanks again to the great people of the Bay Area and their hospitality this past week. Stellar SB experience!
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) February 8, 2016
A year ago, a rainstorm hit the Phoenix area in the week leading up to Super Bowl 49. I checked out the multi-block event area there, thinking about SF the whole time. Phoenix has hosted three Super Bowls in the last 20 years, two since University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale opened a decade ago. Phoenix’s downtown is well suited to host the festivities, with a convention center, arena, light rail running through the area, and plenty of hotels. For those who want more upscale digs, Scottsdale is next door. The big issue was that the stadium was 14 miles northwest of downtown, which forced a second stage to be built in Glendale. Ideally everything would be located in one fairly compact area, but that’s only possible in a few prior SB cities: Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Atlanta. Having Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, 40 miles away from San Francisco, proved to be a hassle but little else. There is some fervent backlash over the costs incurred by San Francisco, costs that were largely covered by the NFL and hosting committee in Santa Clara.
San Francisco proved too photogenic, telegenic, and overall too fun not to be asked to host the game again in the not-too-distant future. Fortunately for Bay Area residents overwhelmed by it all, that can’t happen any earlier that 2022. The next two games have already been awarded to Houston and Minneapolis, with Miami a frontrunner for SB 53 in 2019 and Atlanta a good possibility for the next installment. Should Stan Kroenke’s stadium open on time in 2019, it will be added to the rotation as quickly as possible, perhaps as early as 2022.
Eventually the NFL will probably go to a 10 city/year rotation as opposed to the 7-year rotation of the past couple of cycles. Replacement domes in the Twin Cities and Atlanta help, as do swank new venues in SF and LA. The success of the Super Bowl in New Jersey convinced other northern cities that they could host outdoor Super Bowls. The NFL is likely to say Thanks, we’ll go with warmer climates as Pete Rozelle intended.
- 2011 – Dallas/Arlington
- 2012 – Indianapolis
- 2013 – New Orleans
- 2014 – NY/NJ
- 2015 – Phoenix/Glendale
- 2016 – SF/Santa Clara
- 2017 – Houston
- 2018 – Minneapolis
- 2019 – TBA (Miami)
- 2020 – TBA (Atlanta)
- 2021 – TBA (Los Angeles)
- 2022 – TBA
- 2023 – TBA
- 2024 – TBA
I can see those last three games being hosted in the same sequence as 2011-13, depending on what upgrades the NFL asks for.
Moving forward, the success of the Super Bowl is likely to embolden those working to get a future Olympics to the Bay. That can’t happen for at least a decade and only if LA flames out in its 2024 attempt. At the very least there will be some level of infrastructure improvement thanks to BART’s expansion to the South Bay. For the Super Bowl and events at Levi’s, the venue will be accessible via both Caltrain and BART, with a light rail shuttle to the stadium. By then, who knows how horrific traffic will be? The self-driving car utopia is not as close as you might think.
There’s no telling what could happen in the next 10-15 years before a hypothetical next Bay Area Super Bowl. Chances are the tech industry will go through at least one bust cycle, probably two. The real estate bubble might burst. The Bay Area hosted the modern, overhyped Super Bowl with aplomb. It has nothing to prove. The decision to host another one will be for the next generation of leadership to decide. If we’re talking about selling the region’s soul, spare me. It’s been sold and resold more times than can ever be documented.
P.S. – The 49ers might want to get the grass fixed first.
Michael Oher can’t get any footing on Levi’s turf https://t.co/xjARxrlYin
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) February 10, 2016