Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl: Wishful thinking

The NFL’s Super Bowl schedule looks like this:
Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010: Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Super Bowl XLV, Feb. 6, 2011: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex.
Super Bowl XLVI, Feb. 5, 2012: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Super Bowl XLVII, Feb. 3, 2013: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

I’m guessing the next three, on Feb. 2, 2014; Feb. 1, 2015; and Feb. 7, 2016 will be in Glendale, Ariz.; Tampa and Miami.

Yes, I’m sure Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville (if the Jaguars are still there) and would-be first-time hosts St. Louis (if the Rams are still there) and New York will make presentations to the Super Bowl Host Committee. And Dallas and Indianapolis will certainly hope the Super Bowl will swing by their cities again, with its $200 million in economic impact.

Here’s a little secret: the Super Bowl is for rich guys who play golf. Sure, it’s a national holiday with a four-hour tv extravaganza. But most people who watch don’t care where the game is. The NFL does. The host city does. And wealthy fans who use the Super Bowl to entertain their clients and friends care. The NFL wants to keep its wealthy fans who actually pay cash for tickets (unlike its member clubs) happy. And they’re not happy if they’re flying up to Indianapolis in February. They love Miami. They love Phoenix. They like New Orleans because of its party atmosphere. They like Tampa if it’s nice out. Jacksonville may have ruined whatever chance it had of hosting another Super Bowl with cloudy, rainy weather all week when the Super Bowl was there a few years ago. Indianapolis has a nice stadium and friendly locals, but the NFL puts Indy in the same file as Detroit: one and done. “We promised you a Super Bowl if you built us a new stadium. You hosted. That’s it.” The NFL may return to Dallas if only because Cowboys Stadium can hold 100,000 people, meaning a live gate of possibly $200 million at $2000/ea. When it comes down to it, though, the Super Bowl is about rich guys who play golf. So keep that in mind, Twin Cities, when you consider the Vikings’ request for a new retractable-roof stadium. The Super Bowl might visit once, and that’s a big “might” since you couldn’t guarantee clear roadways to the game in the event of a blizzard on Saturday night.

In the 1980’s, the NFL liked its Super Bowl rotation of Miami, New Orleans and Pasadena, Calif., with occasional visits to other cities. Pasadena is not currently viable since the NFL left L.A. years ago. I see the current Super Bowl triumvirate of Miami, New Orleans and Phoenix holding firm. If L.A. lures a team, that will change. But cold-weather cities—and even mild-weather cities like Atlanta, Houston and Dallas—should be realistic about their slim chances for regular Super Bowl visits.

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