The vote against Miami was resounding. So, too, was the reaction.
The South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee, led by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and chairman Rodney Barreto, expressed anger, disappointment and dismay Tuesday after NFL owners awarded the 50th Super Bowl, in February 2016, to the San Francisco Bay Area over Miami.
The owners followed by granting the 2017 Super Bowl to Houston, again over Miami.
The vote totals were via a super majority, meaning Miami in each case failed to attract even nine of 32 votes, the minimum needed to force at least a second round of balloting.
It had been 10 years since a first-ballot Super Bowl was awarded, yet minus a deal to improve Sun Life Stadium, Miami managed two walloping defeats in a 10-minute span.
“I really wanted to see it and I wanted it to be my legacy,” Ross, 73, said of hosting a Super Bowl in an upgraded facility.
The Dolphins have been sharply critical of Will Weatherford, speaker of the state House of Representatives, who didn’t bring to the floor an initiative that would have let Miami-Dade County vote on a referendum for public-private funding of $400 million in stadium renovations.
“It’s just incredible to me, living in a country that prides itself on democracy, that elected officials — local and leadership at the state level — would take steps that would prevent the voters from having the ultimate say,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said. “It almost makes you wonder. Makes you think: What am I missing?”
South Florida, which has hosted a record-tying 10 Super Bowls, will endure a Super gap nearly as long as it has ever felt since the game was created. The area once went nineyears (1980-1988) without a Super Bowl. With 2010 the most recent game in the area, it’ll be 2018, at the soonest, before it returns.
Barreto pointed out that the NFL has to invite cities to make formal Super Bowl presentations, and since Tuesday’s votes weren’t close, “I don’t know why they would invite us back next year.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called stadiums “a very important part” of Super Bowl bids.
“I did have a number of owners tell me privately the condition of the stadium was a factor in their votes,” Goodell said of Sun Life.
The South Florida committee expressed confidence in every facet of its bid other than the stadium, which opened in 1987.
“It’s hard to overcome having the oldest facility that regularly competes now for Super Bowls,” Dee said.
The committee hoped to focus on a “Super Bowl Park” that would have meant a week-long party zone on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami. It also relied on South Florida’s Super Bowl history, its winter weather and the allure of South Beach.
“I think everybody in that room would rather be in Miami in February than they would anywhere else in the country,” Ross said of his fellow owners. “And I think no one knows how to host the Super Bowl better than Miami.”
Among the stadium improvements the Dolphins want are a canopy to protect fans from the elements, seats closer to the field and better replay boards. Ross, who said the improvements will come only via public-private funding, said the longer the wait, the more costly renovations will be.
“You get to a certain point and it becomes more obsolete faster,” he said. “I think now it’s a lot cheaper to spend the money today to bring it up to speed.
“Our plans were to make it the equivalent of a new stadium. If you continue waiting, you’re going to have to build a whole new stadium and then it’s going to be a question of where in Florida does it reside? I want it to be in Miami, where it is, with a modernized stadium.”
The 49ers were considered strong favorites with a $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara due to open for the 2014 season. The Houston Texans’ home, Reliant Stadium, opened in 2002 and hosted the 2004 game in which New England defeated Carolina 32-29.
The 2014 game will be in East Rutherford, N.J. The 2015 host will be Glendale, Ariz.
The Dolphins’ plan to renovate their stadium hinged on a referendum that had been planned for May 14. Miami-Dade voters would have decided whether to increase the hotel bed tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. The Dolphins also were seeking long-term subsidies from the state.
Barreto criticized lawmakers who failed to authorize the referendum. He singled out state representatives Michael Bileca and Carlos Trujillo, both Republicans from Miami, saying they persuaded Weatherford to keep the bill from a vote in the House.
“They need to look at themselves in the mirror tonight,” Barreto said. “They can declare victory that they stopped the Super Bowl from coming to Miami, probably for the next 10 years at least.”
They couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night.
FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES
Feb. 2, 2014: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Feb. 1, 2015: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
February 2016: Santa Clara, Calif. (site of 49ers’ new stadium).
February 2017: Houston.