TAMPA — For the second year in a row, Tampa is one of the finalists seeking to host a future Super Bowl, a spokesman for the NFL said Thursday.
This time, Tampa is one of just two potential hosts invited to submit bids for the game in 2015, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The other is Arizona.
A vote to pick the host is expected this fall at a league meeting. Local leaders said they believe they've got a good shot at landing Super Bowl XLIX, which would be Tampa's fifth.
"We're in the finals," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "I fully expect that we will do what we do best, which is put on great Super Bowls and big events.
"Coming on the heels of the (2012) Republican National Convention, it puts us in the spotlight once again," Buckhorn said. "We'll just have to get our best game up and be ready in October."
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who serves on the Tampa Sports Authority, said the city's record of putting on big sporting competitions to rave reviews should seal the deal.
"I think our chances are excellent," Hagan said. "Tampa is second to no one when it comes to hosting Super Bowls."
It probably will take two or three months to compile the information that goes into a detailed bid, said Paul Catoe, the chief executive officer of Tampa Bay & Co., Hillsborough County's convention and visitors bureau.
So far, he said, the area has merely expressed an interest in bidding and, significantly, picked up support from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"We appreciate them supporting the community," Catoe said. "We can't make it happen without the Buccaneers being on our side and requesting the bid."
Tampa previously hosted the championship in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.
The most recent game featured an epic battle between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Well-traveled Steelers fans arrived by the RV-load in the two weeks leading up to the game, washing the city in the team's black and gold colors.
They camped out in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium, filled entertainment districts such as Ybor City and sang along to Bruce Springsteen at halftime. Many left singing the city's praises as a welcoming host with lots to offer.
Tampa was one of three finalists last year, along with South Florida, when the NFL picked New York to host the 2014 Super Bowl. Many observers considered that pick a foregone conclusion, as the New York region had christened a new Meadowlands Stadium (technically across the river in New Jersey).
Cities that build new stadiums regularly are awarded Super Bowls, taking the game out of what has almost become a rotation between Tampa, South Florida, southern California and New Orleans.
Team owners had even agreed to waive a rule that the game get played in a city with average temperatures of 50 degrees or warmer in February, though it took four rounds of voting before owners settled on the Big Apple.
Freezing temperatures this year in Dallas caused grumbling among some fans. Between now and 2015, the Super Bowl also will travel to Indianapolis and New Orleans.
Arizona has hosted the Super Bowl twice, most recently in 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
It'll be an interesting competition, said Santiago Corrada, Buckhorn's chief of staff. Corrada went to Arizona to check out preparations in 2008, then helped with Tampa's work to host the game in 2009.
"They did a good job, and we did a great job the following year," Corrada said. "All the feedback that we received was very, very positive."