NFL team owners meet Tuesday to decide the location of the 2014 Super Bowl. Tampa, still basking in the glow of hosting the big game in 2009, is in the mix, up against Miami and New York. What are Tampa's chances? Here's a look at how the three cities stack up on some of the factors owners might consider.
It's really hard — okay, impossible — for a northeastern city to compete with Florida when it comes to winter weather. The NFL, though, seems to be willing to give New York a pass on this. The league's rules require a 50-degree average temperature in early February for host cities with open stadiums. That rule was waived so New York could enter a bid. Boosters point to legendary cold-weather games to validate the waiver. And the city's bid promises to supply fans with hand warmers and heated seats. It also highlights state and local agencies' ability to shovel snow. But still, the only thing worse than sitting in a stadium in below-freezing temps is sitting in a stadium in blistering heat. Tampa and Miami come out even on this one, but we'll give this it to Tampa, just because, well, we're in Tampa.
Miami/South Florida has hosted 10 Super Bowls, more than any other city, including this year's game. Tampa hosted its fourth in 2009. When did New York last host a Super Bowl? That would be never. Yes, New York has hosted papal visits and the 2004 Republican National Convention. But here, we have to go with the numbers, and give it to South Florida.
Tampa's got the pirate ship, and South Florida has plans to make massive improvements to Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. But New York has the brand spanking new, $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium, set for its inaugural football season this year. Home to both the New York Giants and New York Jets, it's equipped to give both Super Bowl teams the feel of playing on a home field. The place has two helicopter landing pads so team owners can arrive at the stadium by air. And then there's the fact that one of the reasons the NFL waived the weather requirement was because of the new stadium. Advantage: New York.
The thought of driving around New York may freak out Floridians, but really, some New Yorkers don't mind it. And they do have plenty of transportation options, including thousands of buses, taxis, subways and trains. There's a transit station just yards from the New Meadowlands stadium entrance, and the New York Super Bowl host committee says 10,000 fans per hour can get from Manhattan's Penn Station to the stadium. The good news for Tampa is that its stadium is close to the downtown activity centers. South Florida's stadium is essentially in the middle of nowhere. The bottom line: Visitors can get anywhere in New York without a car. Not so in Tampa or South Florida. This one goes to New York.
The days leading up to Super Bowl are all about the parties. Which location has the best venues for those events? Tampa has a new art museum and riverfront park, downtown St. Petersburg and Ybor City. Miami has South Beach. But the New York bid considers the possibility of parties at the American Museum of Natural History, at Liberty Park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and a breakfast at Tiffany & Co. No, there won't be any opportunity for golfing, a favorite Super Bowl-related pastime, but the host committee assures there will be bowling. Advantage: New York.
Any Super Bowl effort requires thousands of volunteers. And let's face it: New Yorkers don't have a reputation for friendliness. South Florida? Sure, they're good people, but a lot of them are from New York. So let's give this one to Tampa, because the people here, perhaps, are a little more down-to-earth than the more cosmopolitan South Floridians.
The final score
By this count, New York wins the 2014 Super Bowl with three points to Tampa's two and South Florida's one. If you're still holding out hope for Tampa, consider the potential for the massive hype surrounding the historic selection of New York for the game — and the possibility of snow on game day — that could result in a television ratings bonanza.
Of course, anything can happen. After all, the underdog New York Giants did beat the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. But Tampa as the 2014 Super Bowl host? Don't bet on it.
No worries, though. The city can lick its wounds over the next two years, planning for what has been described by some as a Super Bowl of politics — the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Janet Zink can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.