The main event of Tuesday's Spring League Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be the awarding of host cities for Super Bowls LIII, LIV and LV.
Although there are other items on the agenda, this is the one that gets the most attention from owners, not to mention writers looking forward to their future work trips in 2019, 2020 and 2021. This year's vote involves a total of five cities bidding for the three Super Bowls. Here's our preview of the field and their chances of scoring the big game.
The long shot
Tampa Bay is a fine location for a Super Bowl. The stadium is modern enough, and the central location of creating an NFL hub near the Ybor City neighborhood worked flawlessly last time around in 2009. Tampa figures host more Super Bowls, but it's simply bidding at a tough time to score the game.
Los Angeles and Atlanta are building new stadiums. South Florida (Miami) just spent at least $400 million in renovations on New Miami Stadium (formerly Sun Life Stadium). And New Orleans is New Orleans; there's a reason it has hosted the most Super Bowls. It would be a big surprise if Tampa scored a Super Bowl in this crowded field.
The NFL chose the Rams to move to Los Angeles in large part because of owner Stan Kroenke's stadium plans. On the day the team was awarded to Los Angeles, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the new stadium "will exceed all expectations" and will be "transformational, not just for the Rams, not just for the Los Angeles community but for the NFL."
That quote alone virtually guarantees that Los Angeles will get one of the Super Bowls awarded Tuesday. The only question is whether the game returns to Los Angeles in 2020 or whether the league gives the Rams an extra year to get situated in their new digs before having the Super Bowl in 2021. In the past, the NFL has stayed away from hosting a Super Bowl in the first year a stadium is open. (As Judy Battista pointed out, the NFL's Super Bowl Advisory Committee recently changed rules that a stadium has to be open for two full seasons to be eligible to host the game.)
Atlanta opens a new stadium in 2017 and its host committee is bidding on all three games. Once the NFL gave the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis over New Orleans, the unwritten rules to the game became clearer than ever: build a stadium and you get a game, even if you are a cold weather venue vying against the best city in the country. The Falcons have hosted the Super Bowl before so they should be a lock to get one of the Super Bowls awarded this week.
South Florida is the third favorite to land a Super Bowl, various sources around the league told Battista. Miami has hosted the game 10 times and getting the game again would be a reward for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who has spent big money on renovations for New Miami Stadium in an effort to host the Super Bowl again. Normally, that would make Miami an absolute lock to have a winning bid. Then again ...
Never count out New Orleans. The Crescent City is only bidding on the 2019 Super Bowl because the College Football Playoff championship game is there in 2020, and Mardi Gras gets in the way in 2021 (priorities are important, after all). But we have heard (and read) sentiment that NOLA could pull off an upset to score the game. Owners love Super Bowls in New Orleans and owner Tom Benson is a popular figure within the league.
Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune noted that Gayle Benson, Tom's wife, is expected to be part of the presentation pitch, extolling what it would mean for her husband to land the game again. Tom Benson will turn 89 in July.
Emotions can surely play a factor in deciding the game. Restaurants can too, and the unique way New Orleans can make an event feel like a week-long party is a big plus. Los Angeles and Atlanta are near-locks to score a Super Bowl on Tuesday, but don't be shocked if New Orleans pulls off an upset, just like Drew Brees and Tracy Porter didin South Florida six years ago.