Now that the city of Miami has, in simple terms, rejected Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins’ request for money to help renovate Dolphins Stadium, the NFL is going to need to find a new host for its 50th Super Bowl in 2016. According to Peter King, that host is likely to be Santa Clara, where the 49ers are building a new stadium. From SI.com:
Amazing, really, that the most likely venue this morning for the Golden Anniversary Super Bowl is the 48th-largest city in California, Santa Clara. And I’m all for it. The new 49ers stadium is the best place for the game, now that the Dolphins won’t be able to give any assurances to the league that Dolphins Stadium will be refurbished before the game. When the Florida legislature on Friday refused to allow the citizens of South Florida to vote on whether to increase the South Florida hotel tax from 6 to 7 percent, it put a huge damper on the chance for Super Bowl L to be held at Dolphins Stadium. The league had said the site very much needs the proposed $350 million stadium improvement. Owners are slated to vote for Super Bowls 50 and 51 at the spring meetings in Boston May 20-22. Super Bowl 50 was a battle between the San Francisco Bay Area and South Florida, with 51 likely headed to either Houston or the loser of the fight for 50. So, barring a late Hail Mary from Miami owner Stephen Ross, it’s likely Santa Clara (45 miles south of San Francisco) will get 50 and Houston 51. It would be the first Super Bowl in the Bay Area in 31 years, since the Joe Montana-Dan Marino faceoff in Palo Alto in January 1985. The Niners’ new 68,500-seat stadium is due to open in time for the 2014 season … 54 years after Candlestick Park opened. Super Bowl 48 will be played in New Jersey next February, with Super Bowl 49 slated for the Cardinals’ stadium in Glendale, Ariz., in February 2015. So the 49ers would have two full seasons to work out the kinks before the big game. The team worked hard to make theirs the greenest stadium in major pro sports. There will be 20,000 square feet of solar panels, a charging station for electric cars, loads of bicycle parking, and a living roof full of green plants. Mass transit was a big key to the new place. When I was briefed on all the bells and whistles of the new stadium last year, I remember being told fans in Sacramento — 90 miles from Candlestick Park — would be able to make it to the new stadium, depending on traffic, in the time it takes for a fan to drive to the new place from downtown San Francisco. And there will be train service from San Francisco to the stadium too, which is undoubtedly how many would travel to a Super Bowl, because the biggest crowd of fans for a Bay Area Super Bowl will want to be in downtown San Francisco. The Dolphins seethed Friday night. Ross blamed Florida House speaker Will Weatherford for failing to bring the matter to the floor of the House for a vote. Ross said in a statement, “Speaker Weatherford did far more than just deny the people of Miami-Dade the right to vote on an issue critical to the future of our local economy. He singlehandedly put the future of Super Bowls and other big events at risk for Miami-Dade and for all of Florida. He put politics before the people and the 4,000 jobs this project would have created for Miami-Dade, and that is just wrong.” The Dolphins were so desperate to get this deal done that Ross said he’d pay for the special election for it, so the people of South Florida could decide for themselves. One source told me Ross was confident the vote would pass, even after so many in south Florida were outraged at the carpetbaggery of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Now Ross has to hope the league will risk playing a historic Super Bowl in a pretty average stadium, without upgrades. I think it’s likely the league goes to the Bay Area instead.