Bay Bowl: San Francisco to host 50th Super Bowl
BOSTON (AP) — Build a new stadium, host the Super Bowl to show it off.
The NFL rewarded the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday with hosting rights for the 2016 championship game, slotting the 50th Super Bowl in the 49ers' high-tech Santa Clara stadium scheduled to open next year.
The league also voted at its spring meetings to give the 2017 game to Houston, which last hosted the big game in 2004.
"After losing a Super Bowl, it feels really good to win a Super Bowl," said 49ers CEO Jed York, whose team lost to Baltimore in the NFL title game in February. "We are so excited to be able to put on the 'Golden Super Bowl' in the Golden State."
The back-to-back, first-ballot votes also sent a message to South Florida that it needs to settle its squabble over renovations at the Miami Dolphins' stadium before it will get a chance to host its 11th Super Bowl.
"I can tell you that I think the stadium is a very import part of any of these proposals. The condition of the stadium is a factor," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "I think it's the stadium, at the end of the day. Their proposal was really quite exciting. I think owners would like to be in Miami. But it's competitive right now."
The 49ers are preparing to begin play in 2014 in what they are billing as the most technologically advanced stadium in the world — the first cashless, ticketless venue in NFL championship history, with WiFi capability for 75,000 people. The 2016 Super Bowl will be the first in northern California since the 1985 game at Stanford Stadium.
When Goodell announced the 2016 decision, members of the San Francisco bid committee let out a roar of approval, then toasted each other with champagne. Asked what he believed swayed the owners to vote for San Francisco, York added: "It's the willpower 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. York said 25 percent of the proceeds from the game will be donated to fight poverty in the Bay Area.
"The Bay Area has been waiting for a (title) game since 1985. We have a stadium now," said Daniel Lurie, a leader of the San Francisco bid. "We are just thrilled and couldn't be happier about this."
Houston staged the 2004 Super Bowl, which is perhaps best known for Janet Jackson's halftime "wardrobe malfunction." That was just two years after Reliant Stadium opened.
"I think a lot of them just felt like, 'Hey, it's Houston's time,'" Texans owner Robert McNair said. "They knew we could do a good job. From 2004 to '17, that's 13 years. So I agree, I think it's Houston's time."
Miami has hosted 10 of them — including the Jets' upset of the Colts in 1969 — and is tied with New Orleans for the most. But South Florida got rejected twice after the Florida Legislature did not support financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium — a likely backlash over the Marlins' new baseball stadium.
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.
"I suspect there's a couple of state reps down in Miami-Dade County where I live who are going to look at this and realize this was a huge mistake," South Florida bid committee chairman Rodney Barreto said. "We had the better bid. I could just look at the body language from the NFL staff. It's a shame. We may not see another Super Bowl for another 10 years."
Ross said South Florida "won't stop trying" to get one.
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 called the decision by the team owners an "important milestone" in moving the project forward. The owners also approved financing for renovations of stadiums in Charlotte and Philadelphia.
Speaking with reporters after the votes, Goodell also said:
— The draft will be held between May 8 and May 17 next year because the venue, Radio City Music Hall, is hosting an Easter show in April. He expects the draft will remain in May, with other adjustments to the NFL's calendar, including the dates for the combine and the opening of free agency, to be discussed with the players' union.
— A third international game in upcoming seasons could be added now that both games for 2013 in London have sold out.
— The Pro Bowl could be moved from Hawaii back to mainland cities after the 2014 game, but will still be held on the Sunday one week before the Super Bowl.
— Expanding the playoffs, and cutting two games off the preseason, still are being discussed. A reduced preseason could happen with either the current 16-game regular season or with an 18-game schedule.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.