Bay Area, Houston get Super Bowls

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BOSTON -- The 50th Super Bowl will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area and the NFL championship will go to Houston the following year.

Team owners voted Tuesday for the 49ers' new stadium as host of the 2016 game. That facility in Santa Clara, Calif., is due to open for the 2014 season. The only previous Super Bowl played in northern California was at Stanford Stadium in 1985.

San Francisco beat out South Florida, which was stymied in its bid to stage an 11th Super Bowl when the Florida Legislature did not support financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins.

"After losing a Super Bowl [to the Baltimore Ravens], it feels really good to win a Super Bowl," San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York cracked.

Houston, which also beat out Miami, was awarded the 2017 title game. Reliant Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans, has hosted once before, in 2004.

"I can't tell you how excited I am for Houston in being selected as the site for the 2017 Super Bowl," Texans owner Bob McNair said in a statement. "This is a worldwide stage that will be constructed in Houston and the world will be watching. It's an opportunity to showcase our wonderful city, the NFL and the Super Bowl all at the same time."

As owners awarded the bids for Super Bowls L and LI on Tuesday, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft pushed the idea of bringing the Pro Bowl back to the Super Bowl's host city.

The NFL experimented with that concept in January 2010, moving the NFL's all-star game to Miami in advance of Super Bowl XLIV. The game returned to Hawaii the next season, but the NFL is still grappling with ideas on how to improve the game.

"I personally would like to see us play the Pro Bowl the week before in the city that hosts the Super Bowl," Kraft said. "That brings out a lot of corporate sponsorships as well as our day-to-day fans, and I think being able to celebrate for a week in places like New York/New Jersey and even up here [in Boston], where's there's so much to do."

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."

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.

Ross congratulated San Francisco and Houston in a statement Tuesday.

"However, we don't think there's a better place in the country to host Super Bowl than right here in South Florida. I am grateful for the hard work and creative energy that the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee showed in their bid," he said. "Today's decision doesn't dampen our enthusiasm to pursue Super Bowls in the future, since we are steadfast in our belief that those games are good for the South Florida community."

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

York suggested that San Francisco's winning bid offered a 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.




 
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