HOUSTON -- NFL vice president of events Frank Supovitz came to town Wednesday for a "voyage of reacquantaince" as he sized up the city's bid for Super Bowl LI.
Owners are expected to vote at the league's spring meeting next month on host sites for the 2016 and 2017 Super Bowls. Miami and San Francisco are in the running for the Super Bowl in 2016 and the runner-up will compete with Houston for the game in the following year.
Supovitz got an aerial tour of the city in a helicopter and toured Reliant Park after flying here from New York City. He'll make stops on Thursday in downtown Houston, where leaders of the city's bid committee envision a massive outdoor gathering spot for fans coming for the game.
"One of the things we offer to all of our clubs and all of the regions that participate in our Super Bowl bidding process is the opportunity to put their best foot forward," Supovitz said. "Sometimes, that means coming into market, having a look around, helping them vet some of the ideas that they have so that we can help guide them along the process."
Houston and Reliant Stadium hosted the Super Bowl in 2004. Much has changed since then, most notably increased development downtown and the addition of the Discovery Green, a grassy area that Supovitz said could serve as a centerpiece for Super Bowl festivities. Also in the works downtown is a 1,000-room hotel slated to be opened in 2016.
"Downtown has definitely changed since the last Super Bowl here," Supovitz said. "The young folks are moving into town, the more urban residential environment really creates a center of gravity for Houston that really wasn't as obvious (in 2004) as it is now."
If Houston gets the votes, Texans owner Bob McNair hopes to draw fans from around the state to events on the weekend before the big game. In 2004, estimated crowds of about 75,000 flocked to downtown on the Friday and Saturday nights preceding Super Bowl Sunday.Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press