BOSTON - The NFL conducted its own referendum on the Miami Dolphins stadium on Tuesday, shutting South Florida out when it handed out the 2016 and '17 Super Bowl hosts.
Owners at the NFL's spring meeting in Boston sent the 50th Super Bowl to the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., that is due to open for the 2014 season. The following year, the NFL championship will return to Houston, which also hosted the game in 2004.
South Florida has hosted 10 Super Bowls — the last in 2010 — tied with New Orleans for the most. The area bid on both games being awarded on Tuesday, but the failure was expected since the Florida Legislature scuttled a plan that would help the Dolphins renovate Sun Life Stadium.
"I've been saying for a while we need to do something for our stadium. I thought the owners spoke," Dolphins owner Steve Ross said. "I think everyone in that room would rather be in Miami in February than they would anywhere else in the country. Nobody knows how to host a Super Bowl better than Miami."
Ross, a multibillionaire, contends that $350 million in stadium improvements are badly needed, but he doesn't want to pay for them by himself. The Dolphins have been seeking tax money to renovate their stadium, but they have been victims of a backlash following complaints about public investment in the Marlins' new baseball home.
The Florida Legislature ended its session earlier this month without passing any funding plan that would help the team refurbish its stadium. The Dolphins had already agreed to pay for a Miami-Dade County referendum on whether to raise local bed taxes to assist the team, but that vote could not proceed without legislative approval.
"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," 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."
The next Super Bowl will be held in New Jersey at the home of the New York Jets and Giants. The 2015 game will be in Glendale, Ariz., the home of the Arizona Cardinals.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday that the 2018 game will be awarded at the league's spring meeting next year at this time.
South Florida's chances will probably be based once again on the condition of the Dolphins' stadium.
"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," he 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."
"At the end of the day, Miami should get the Super Bowl because we are Miami, not because of we have a roof on the stadium," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
Less than an hour after the vote, Indianapolis officials said they would "be very surprised" if they didn't put together a bid for the 2018 game. New Orleans organizers have already said they will bid on that game, and officials in Denver, Atlanta and Minnesota could also join the bidding process.
Ross said South Florida "won't stop trying" to get another game. But Barreto said it could be a decade before the Super Bowl returns to Miami.
"The problem with us is that we're fat and happy and we do it so well, and everybody has figured out what we knew all along, and that's why all these cities who have never bid are doing it now," he said.
"This Super Bowl probably ain't coming back, probably for another 10 years. We may have a baseball All-Star Game or World Series before we get another Super Bowl, which is a shame."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also issued a statement, saying: "We are certainly disappointed that our community was not chosen to host Super Bowl L or LI. That said, I'm grateful to the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee for their considerable efforts to land the big game. Their bid was a true collaborative effort and it showed in its creativity and excellent presentation. Miami is a hot global destination and I'm confident the Super Bowl will soon return to our hometown."
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