South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Gears Up For 2015 Bid
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Every year, the National Football League’s 32 team owners gather and vote on which lucky location will next host a Super Bowl.
And whenever invited, the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee is right there with them, giving its best pitch to lure the highly lucrative event.
While South Florida may not have the newest, shiniest stadium, what’s outside its gates has won the owners over ten times — the record for most Super Bowls hosted, said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee.
"The NFL takes a look at everything," Mr. Barreto said. "When you have the things that we have to offer, there’s just so much to complement the game."
Among South Florida’s selling points, he said: three international airports, 20 fixed-base operators for private planes and some 130,000 hotel rooms at widely ranging price points.
The next game on the table is 2015, and the committee’s already gearing up to win.
Work is underway on the 2015 bid book, which addresses every request from the National Football League’s increasing demands.
The host committee is also in the process of interviewing companies to handle its presentation, Mr. Barreto said.
Each area in the running gives a 15-minute presentation to the owners before the vote, coupled with detailed bid books.
"We’re going to get as creative as possible," Mr. Barreto said.
The bid book is put together by host committee staff and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, he said, which hired an independent consultant to handle the 2014 bid book.
The 2014 Super Bowl — the most recently assigned — went to New York/New Jersey.
The region beat out Tampa and South Florida.
Mr. Barreto speculated that Dallas, Tampa and Indianapolis will try for the 2015 game.
Locations must be invited by the football league to bid, Mr. Barreto said.
During the owners’ meeting, pitches are heard and the owners hold rounds of voting until the winner is selected.
But for some, their minds are made up well ahead of time.
Mr. Barreto likened the advanced commitments of owners to lobbyists paying visits to legislators, urging them to vote a certain way.
"Some of this is very political," he said.
So how does South Florida get in on the action, securing pledged votes?
Mr. Barreto said many of the owners visit South Florida each year when their teams take on the Miami Dolphins, but other than that, "We don’t want to reveal all our secrets."
While coaxing might help in some cases, one thing it won’t change is South Florida’s Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
While the stadium, which broke ground in 1985, was once a big lure, "that state-of-the-art stadium today is 25 years old," Mr. Barreto said. "It’s tough for us to compete against a billion-dollar stadium."
Sun Life is missing many of the components of newer stadiums, such as a retractable roof and lighting for high-definition television.
In its bid, the host committee must offer extra funds to compensate for the lacking lights, Mr. Barreto said.
South Florida has been given a "heads-up" that changes are needed to keep Super Bowls coming into the future, he said.
As for the host committee’s role in this, Mr. Barreto said it is encouraging the Miami Dolphins to "come up with a plan" to fund stadium improvements.
"We need to stay competitive," he said.
Proposed improvements expected to cost upwards of $200 million include a translucent roof to shield spectators and high-definition lighting.
Public money is a potential funding source.
However, government dollars for a sports facility could be a tough sell following the Florida Marlins’ $515 million stadium, which is being paid for with $347.5 million in county funds, $154 million from the Marlins — including $35 million financed through county bonds — and $13.5 million plus parking-construction costs from the City of Miami.
Still, the stadium isn’t the sole challenge in attracting future Super Bowls.
Every year, the requirements to bid for a Super Bowl are "getting steeper and steeper."
"The NFL has gotten a lot more sophisticated with their proposal requirements," he said.
These changing requests are evidenced in South Florida’s bid books over the years, expanding from a thin, white binder with yellowing pages from 1991 to the thick, turf-green 2014 bid pack with a football-field motif.
Mike Zimmer, president of the host committee, said its bid book has practically doubled in size in recent years.
Among the league’s increasingly nitpicky desires, Mr. Zimmer pointed to a rule that hundreds of fresh towels be provided to players — paid for by the host.
A big part of formulating the many components of the bid, he said, has become cost analysis.
Mr. Barreto, who has been active in South Florida Super Bowl bids since 1989, said the financial commitment requested by the football league has changed drastically.
It’s gone from the sponsoring location paying very little on game day to covering all game day expenses, he said.
With the league’s ever-growing list of wants, Mr. Barreto said, it could come to the point where the committee must ask "Is it worth the money, time and effort?"
But for now, he said, it is — without a question.
Hosting a Super Bowl attracts throngs of visitors, who pump money into the local economy through hotel stays, dining out and purchases.
According to a study that the host committee commissioned on the 2010 South Florida Super Bowl, the game had a paid attendance of 73,602.
Mr. Barreto said it’s estimated that another 50,000 visited with no intention of going to the game.
Out-of-town visitors for the 2010 Super Bowl spent an average on $947.41 per day on "accommodations, meals/beverages, local transportation, entertainment/recreation, merchandise and other miscellaneous retail," according to the study.
These expenses covered 2.36 persons daily, according to the study.
Visitors surveyed stayed an average 3.12 nights in South Florida, with 89.5% citing the Super Bowl as their main reason for visiting.
In addition, the average household income of visitors surveyed was $220,323.
And that’s not to mention the value of South Florida’s exposure to every Super Bowl television viewer.
The 2010 Super Bowl "captured 1.53 million household impressions," according to the study, "surpassing the 1983 finale of "M*A*S*H" to become the most-watched program in US television history."
"You cannot put a price tag on the amount of [public relations] that comes from a Super Bowl," Mr. Barreto said. "You can’t buy that."