The NFL Owners meet Tuesday at the Hyatt Harborside in Boston to conduct league business, including voting to determine which city hosts the 50th and 51st Super Bowl, or Super Bowl L and LI. (Follow Zennie62 on Twitter to keep track of what’s happening as I will be there.)
The San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl Bid appears to have the upper hand as it is buttressed by an incredible new stadium that will open in 2014, and was built in part with a municipal bond issue.
By contrast, the media has had a field day making fun of the Miami Dolphins and its owner Stephen Ross’ problems with the Florida Speaker of The House, and the electorate down there which seemed poised to reject Dolphins’ requested use of a hotel tax increase, even if the Florida House had voted for it, which it did not get the chance to do.
Yes, on paper, this would appear to be a slam-dunk for the San Francisco 49ers and John York, and his son San Francisco 49ers Team President Jed York. And the NFL vote on Tuesday is head-to-head, the two cities, unlike the three-city process I experienced as Super Bowl Oakland Bid head in 2000, and for the 2005 game that Jacksonville won over us and Miami. So, to a degree, it comes down to Ross v. York, then one of them (the loser) versus Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair for Super Bowl LI.
Stephen Ross is in the one place where there are many people who have experienced the same issues he has had to deal with: arguments with politicians, a media making fun of him, and a fan-base that’s quirky. That place is the NFL Owners meeting, and it’s there that, from accounts, Ross is a star.
Take what Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said about Ross after criticism that the Dolphins’ weren’t able to land a quarterback prior to the 2012 NFL Draft (where they eventually picked Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill), according to Palm Beach Post Blogger Ben Volin :
Jones had high praise for Ross, calling him “such an asset to the league” because of the fresh ideas he brought to the meeting rooms last week at the NFL owners meetings and the unique way he approaches his team’s attendance problems. Ross broke NFL protocol last year when he interviewed Jim Harbaugh before firing Tony Sparano, but Jones said he respects Ross for not being traditional in his approach.
“I do think the challenges he’s facing, I’m envious in that he’s facing them unfettered,” Jones said. “He’s not as aware, or not as sensitized to the boundaries of, ‘Well this is the way we’ve done it,’ or, ‘We do it this way.’ So he brings ideas and perspectives to the table that we need in the NFL.”
“At the league meetings, he comes in with really sound fan-friendly instincts, and knows and understands the competition and how challenging it is to win. But he also wants to do it in a way that is uniquely what the Miami Dolphins are about, and I know he’s a great sports fan.”
“He’s totally motivated at making the NFL everything it can be – growing the pie, growing the interest. That combination of commitment, as well as the energy and talent he’s got, if I could draw a profile of an NFL owner, it would be Steve Ross.”
And that comes from one of the most effective and powerful owners in the NFL.
And it underscores a point I’ve strived to make for weeks now: what happens in that room of NFL Owners can’t always be predicted. If it were up to a simple computerized checklist, San Francisco would win the right to host Super Bowl L, hands down. But this is up to humans, and with that come other considerations, from experience in hosting past Super Bowl games, to this really deep intangible of popularity and also market size.
That’s right, market size. The San Francisco Bay Area is a much larger media market than Miami is, according to Nielsen, and that does factor in to the NFL Owners’ Super Bowl Bid vote. San Francisco is double the size of Miami, and Houton too is larger. Given the league’s “small market versus large market” squabbles (something that became obvious during the labor negotiations), this could set the stage where the small market teams vote for Miami.
The York’s know this, and it’s why Jed York has openly said that he doesn’t feel they’re ahead. He knows the game. it’s just the media that needs to get the message.