This is a bit of a sore subject for me. The awarding of Super Bowls is one of the most political processes in the world of sports. The hoops that cities have to jump through in order to host the most-watched sporting event in the world is mind blowing and frustrating. Teams bring in city officials and representatives to promote their city and pitch why they should host the game. The financial impact can be huge, and yet, the reality is that it isn’t much, in fact some cities actually LOSE money when they host the game, as the cost of putting on such an event is more than some city budgets can handle. I remember living just across the street from Raymond James Stadium when Tampa hosted the Ravens and Giants in 2000. The one memory that sticks in my head was during the week leading up to the game I was fortunate to shake the hand of Jim Brown outside the Stadium. Now me being a life long Browns Fan, that was a surreal moment for me, and I will never forget it. That was the highlight of the week for me, a resident of the host city, because the remainder of the week was a series of traffic nightmares, people being stupid, and the ever present factor of the fact that the Ravens were playing in the Super Bowl, a team that five years earlier were known as the Browns. Art Model was there, a man that will be forever hated in Cleveland, and it pained me to know that they could end up being world champs.
But enough of my misery, this post is more about the fact that Tampa was snubbed once again from hosting a Super Bowl in the next 5 years. The deciding factor in awarding Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles Super Bowls 49, 50 and 51 boiled down to the venue. Atlanta and LA are building new stadiums, monuments of architecture that were too attractive to not warrant getting the game. Miami is in the middle of renovating “Joe Robbie Stadium”, a building that has been the home of the Dolphins since the Mid 80’s, to the tune of $400 million. Ray Jay here in Tampa, which has been in place just since 1998, is in the process of $100 million in upgrades, including new Video screens and a remodel of their luxury suites. Tampa has hosted the Super Bowl 4 times, while this latest award for Miami will be it’s 11th hosting, the most in history.
Raymond James Stadium seating capacity is 65,890, while the Stadium in Miami seats 76,100. The major factor to me that Tampa was snubbed, in my usually wrong opinion, is because of the presence of a great big pirate ship in the north end zone, impacting what could be an extra 5-10K seats. I feel the ship is a deterrent for the NFL, and it is also my firm belief it is too team-specific. The game is supposed to be all about the two teams that will be playing in it, as well as the NFL putting on a spectacular show, and to have a great big ugly pirate ship on camera being shown to the world with a Buccaneers Logo on it, when the Bucs probably would not be in the game is a visual that the NFL doesn’t want the world to see. The ship can not be removed for the game, it is a permanent piece of the stadium, and it would be impossible to remove it for one game. This is my opinion, and it may in fact be a small reason in the grand scheme of things, but I feel it weighs more on the decision who will host than the NFL will lead on.
Another factor is ownership. The Glazers are arguably the worst owners in the NFL, and the reason I say this is due to the fact they are more focused on Manchester United than they are on the Bucs. They own the most valuable Soccer team in the world, and they are all in on Man U and the Bucs are secondary and not their primary focus. The primary reason for this is that Malcolm Glazer was all in on the Bucs when he was primary owner and in the grand scheme of things, he bought the Bucs to make them a perennial Super Bowl contender, but as he declined in health over the years, more control was given to his sons, and they are all about Man U. They should sell the team to a more attentive ownership and move to London now that Malcolm has passed away. Until serious changes occur in Tampa, they will not host another Super Bowl. The only bright spot in Tampa’s future is the fact they will host the 2017 National Championship Game, and may be in the running for more in the next few years, but that will depend on how well this year’s game goes. I am not calling for a new Stadium, because the city and the taxpayers are still paying for this one, but I am seriously calling for changes that would make the city a more attractive host for a Super Bowl in the future.