NFL owners voted today to give Houston Super Bowl LI in 2017.
At their spring meeting at the Hyatt Harborside, the owners voted the coveted Super Bowl L to San Francisco over South Florida.
South Florida took another one on the chin in the next vote, losing Super Bowl LI to Houston. The Houston group made the final presentation of the day to the owners.
This will be the third Super Bowl played in Houston – the first since Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
“This is a great day for Houston, bringing back the Super Bowl to Houston,” said Ric Campo, chairman of Houston’s bid committee. “I know a lot of people are celebrating in Houston, but it’s important to remember our friends in Oklahoma. They have our prayers and support as they rebuild. We are thinking of them while we celebrate this great game for Houston.”
Campo and David Crane, another member of the committee, were co-presenters during their 15-minute session with the owners. Then, Texans owner Bob McNair spent five minutes promoting Houston to his partners.
Obviously, McNair, Campo and Crane were convincing. A big part of the video promoting Houston featured James A. Baker III, the honorary chairman of the committee.
“We came to Boston, and we felt like we were on the 5-yard line with no time left on the clock and down by four,” Campo said. “We ran it up the middle, scored and brought the Super Bowl back to Houston in 2017.”
Houston was favored over South Florida for the last two weeks. The consensus was that San Francisco was a lock because of the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. That meant South Florida, which has hosted 10 Super Bowls, competed against Houston.
When Dolphins owner Stephen Ross failed to get $350 million from taxpayers to improve Sun Life Stadium, he conceded Super Bowl LI to Houston. While trying to get his legislature to approve a Dade County referendum that might have provided the $350 million, Ross said without the improvements, South Florida wouldn’t get one of the Super Bowls.
If the owners had voted the game to South Florida without the stadium improvements, they would have sent a strong message that taxpayer money wasn’t necessary to improve a stadium before it can host a Super Bowl.
If South Florida gets the stadium improvements, it might be favored to win Super Bowl LII.
Houston’s bid, worth in excess of $35 million, offered Reliant Stadium and its retractable roof, Reliant Park for Super Bowl Sunday and enough hotel rooms downtown to house the league headquarters, more than 2,000 members of the media and both teams, as well as Discovery Green for 100,000 people to party.
Ideally, Super Bowl L would have been in Los Angeles, site of the first Super Bowl. But Los Angeles doesn’t have a stadium that’s up to Super Bowl standards.
The Bay Area was the next-best site. San Francisco is hosting its second Super Bowl. Super Bowl XIX in 1985 was played at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto.