Eight in the Box: Cities that should get to host a Super Bowl
There have been 15 host cities for the Super Bowl, counting the unique New York setting this year. This is not the first time that a metropolitan area has been handed the keys to the NFL’s day in the sun (or snow or wind or rain) — Los Angeles has hosted multiple times at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the San Francisco Bay Area held Super Bowl XIX at Stanford and Dallas-Fort Worth shared duties at the Cowboys’ home in 2011, for example.
The changes to the NFL’s usual setup, however, may have opened the door for other cities to jump into the Super Bowl-hosting mix in the coming years.
And from the extreme longshots to those with a real chance at the gig, here are some of our favorite choices:
Honorable mention — Honolulu: Logistically and financially, this might be tougher to pull off than an international Super Bowl. But a guy can dream, right?
One of the main problems — ya know, aside from the challenges of getting everyone out to the islands — is that the stadium in Honolulu, which belongs to the University of Hawaii, seats only 50,000. That’s about 19,000 below what the attendance was at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium and about 20,000 shy of the league’s stated requirement for a Super Bowl-host stadium.
On the other hand: A high of 75 and a low of 68 for Honolulu on Super Bowl Sunday. You would not hear anyone complain about being required to attend a game here.
8. Las Vegas: It may not have much more of a chance than a Honolulu Super Bowl, save for the fact that UNLV is hoping to build itself a new stadium soon. The initial plan called for 60,000 seats and a dome — a venue that would put Las Vegas right on the edge of the NFL’s Super Bowl requirements.
Of course, that stadium’s not there yet (UNLV’s current home has a 40K capacity). The NFL also might not want to partner so openly with the gambling industry, despite the league’s clear pull within the sports-betting world. Las Vegas is a carnival for Super Bowl Sunday as it is, meaning one can only imagine the insanity levels should the actual game be played nearby.
7. Austin: OK, so the Super Bowl in Arlington/Dallas was mostly a mess, with an ice storm that caught everyone off-guard, seating issues at the stadium and a very spread-out radius for the events. Does that mean the NFL should never consider heading back to Texas?
Even if the Metroplex is on the Super Bowl blacklist for the time being, there’s another spot capable of pulling off the event. That would be Austin, the state’s capital, which has a 100K-seat stadium and hosts huge get-togethers frequently (i.e. the South by Southwest music festival). The NFL loves taking its big game to New Orleans in part because of the weather and vibrant scene there. Austin would provide a comparable setting 500 miles west of the Big Easy.
That huge stadium might be a draw for the NFL, too, even without one of its teams present.
6. Washington D.C.: Roger Goodell has mentioned in the past that D.C. — and, in particular, Redskins owner Dan Snyder — might be interested in bidding on a future Super Bowl, should New York/New Jersey pull this year’s game off without a major hitch. Would the franchise need a new stadium to garner host duties?
FedEx Field is less than 20 years old, but it’s also a clunky venue about a half-hour drive (in no traffic, which is a mythical proposition in D.C.) outside of the nation’s capital. D.C. also has a February temperature average below that 50-degree wish (the city sits at an average high of 47), with a local population that does not handle inclement weather like snow and ice all that well. No doubt, the folks who live in the D.C.-metro area permanently shudder whenever the notion of Super Bowl traffic comes up.
Still, Washington D.C. also seems like a natural option for a number of reasons, among them being the visual majesty of a Super Bowl week set on the National Mall. Don’t rule this one out.
Baltimore also could get in the mix, either using D.C. as a co-host for the week’s festivities or of its own accord.
5. Pittsburgh: Turn just about anywhere right now and you’ll find someone talking about Pittsburgh as an up-and-coming destination — CBS News named it one of the “Best Places to Visit in 2014;” the Chicago Tribune dubbed it “one of our nation’s most underrated cities;” Business Insider named it one of the 15 “Hottest Cities of the Future.”
More noteworthy than all that, in terms of this Super Bowl discussion, is that Pittsburgh brings with it a huge chunk of the NFL’s history and an ownership family in the Rooneys that is among the league’s most influential. If the Rooneys say that they truly want to chase Super Bowl host duties, Roger Goodell will have no choice but to at least listen.
Heinz Field’s sub-70K seating capacity would be an issue, but less so than the February weather — the stadium’s a short walk from where the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers meet, so there is plenty of snow and wind (plus a natural-grass playing surface that’s often one of the worst in the NFL.)
There would be plenty of obstacles should Pittsburgh land the game, and yet it’s hard to count out a city that’s currently riding so much positive momentum.
4. Denver: The home of the AFC champs wants to get in the mix for a Super Bowl, potentially as early as 2018. Team owner Pat Bowlen told the Denver Post in September he thinks his city could pull it off.
“This is a football town,” Bowlen told Mike Klis. “It’s not like it would be very difficult to host it here. You couldn’t have enough tickets.
“They make a lot out of that where you have to worry about the weather. Bull. Every team plays in rain or snow or cold or whatever. I’d love to bring the Super Bowl here.”
It almost goes without saying the threat of a winter storm would loom over this game, but it’s worth pointing out that temperatures hovered near 60 for the AFC title game just last week.
3. Chicago: Granted, this has been a particularly brutal winter, but … well, the Friday forecast for Chicago called for wind chills approaching 30-below followed by up to three inches of snow. All the weather worries regarding this season’s Super Bowl would be kicked up to an extreme measure with a move to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Soldier Field also seats just 62,000, 8,000 shy of the NFL’s desired size, and it has minimal room to expand that number should a Super Bowl be played there.
The argument for Chicago would be similar to the argument for New York: It’s an iconic city with a long football history and more than enough entertainment options to last through Super Bowl week.
2. Seattle: The Seahawks already have begun a push to host the Super Bowl. There’s no question the fervent local fans would embrace such an opportunity. Some of Seattle’s hopes may rest with how the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl runs, but the weather in the Emerald City is less of a potentially major problem — Seattle has a February average high of 50 degrees, which is right at the NFL’s cutoff for an outdoor venue. (This year’s event is an exception.)
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported last August that there are 12,750 hotel rooms in downtown Seattle and just shy of 35,000 in King County, where the Seahawks’ stadium sits. The NFL requires a Super Bowl host city to have 25,000 hotel rooms within an hour of the stadium, so while Seattle’s numbers aren’t ideal, they may not be a deal-breaker, either.
The league consistently has rewarded cities that have built new stadiums with Super Bowls — Detroit, San Francisco, Indianapolis. Seattle has one of the NFL’s prettiest venues and one of its most loyal fan bases.
1. London: Argue if you must about a London Super Bowl violating the sanctity of an American sport, but of all the spots on our list this might be the most likely future host. Roger Goodell has expanded the league’s footprint overseas by taking multiple regular-season games per season to Wembley Stadium. He’s talked openly about possibly placing a team in London eventually. Wembley seats approximately 90,000, and the city obviously could handle a massive event.
Again, we’d have to talk about the weather: cold and rainy, particularly in February, when average temperatures sit around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Wembley does come with a retractable roof, but it does not cover the entire field, so its effects on the temperature would be minimal at best.
That said, the NFL is constantly seeking its next spectacle. A Super Bowl across the pond would qualify.