A possible conflict with Miami's massive boat show is not enough to sink South Florida's hopes of hosting the 50th Super Bowl, officials working to secure the landmark game contend.
The concern was raised in a media report that the NFL may schedule the 2016 Super Bowl during Presidents' Day weekend. That would have America's biggest sporting event vying with one of the world's largest marine industry showcases. The Miami International Boat Show has been a mid-February staple since the 1940s.
Leaders of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee are certain that the region is big enough to comfortably accommodate both tourism behemoths.
"It's not an impediment," said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the committee. "I believe we have sufficient hotel rooms, sufficient space for everybody. We're a big town; we're far and wide between the three counties."
A Miami-Dade County tourism official told the Miami Herald that there are not enough hotel rooms in Miami to stage the Super Bowl, boat show and Coconut Grove Arts Festival at the same time. But Barreto's committee is preparing a regional bid not confined to Miami-Dade.
South Florida is a finalist along with San Francisco to host Super Bowl L. The region not selected for 2016 will be considered along with Houston for 2017. Hosts for the two games will be chosen by NFL owners next May.
The three finalists have been instructed to prepare their bids for staging the game on any of the first three weekends in February. In recent years the Super Bowl has been held the first Sunday in February — the 2013 game is Feb. 3 at New Orleans.
Broward and Palm Beach counties could benefit if the NFL elects to push the Super Bowl back two weeks from its current schedule.
"If there is going to be a Super Bowl in South Florida in 2016, and it's going to be boat show weekend, then it is likely that we'll do what we did in 2010 and kind of centralize the activities in Broward County," said Nicki Grossman, Broward's tourism director and a member of the Super Bowl organizing committee.
When the Super Bowl last visited the region, in 2010, NFL headquarters and the media center were in Broward. The county derived $57.6 million in direct spending, more than Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties combined, according to an economic impact study.
"They had a good experience. This is not an unknown destination for them," Grossman said. "We were asked to bid as South Florida. We have in the past not responded to the bid for Presidents' Day Weekend. This time we don't have that option. This time the NFL wants to have the three weekends included in the bid."
Moving the Super Bowl to Presidents' Day weekend would be contingent on the NFL expanding its regular season to 18 games. That would require agreement by the players' union. The players opposed the league's bid to add two games to the schedule in the latest labor negotiations, and it was not part of the 10-year collective bargaining agreement reached in 2011.
An appealing aspect of Presidents' Day weekend is it would set the Super Bowl on a Sunday followed by a national holiday. The Monday after the game has become a notoriously unproductive work day with millions of fans stretching their Super Bowl celebrations until late Sunday night. That has prompted a group to begin a petition drive to move Presidents' Day ahead two weeks to the Monday after the game.
The South Florida host committee has had talks with boat show organizers about moving that event, but the latter are understandably resistant. The boat show, which dates to 1941, draws more than 100,000 attendees, about 45 percent from outside of Florida, according to marine industry reports.
Barreto believes the two events can complement each other.
"I don't see it as a conflict. This is something that is workable and doable," he said. "With all those of people, they get different things to experience. The football crowd wants to go to a boat show, they go to a boat show."
The boat show's largest concentration of exhibit space is at Miami Beach Convention Center. Barreto said there are new venues in Miami-Dade that would make hosting the Super Bowl at the same time more viable than in the past, such as Marlins Park and Miami Art Museum, opening next year at Bicentennial Park.
"We can build a tent city media center right next to AmericanAirlines Arena, which is a public park area," Barreto said. "There are so many things available to us. You've got to think outside the box a little bit."
A greater threat South Florida's hopes for hosting Super Bowl L than the boat show is formidable competition from San Francisco. The Bay Area can offer a $1.2 billion stadium that will be completed in 2014 in Santa Clara as home of the San Francisco 49ers.
South Florida has hosted 10 Super Bowls — a record New Orleans will equal — along with all the attributes that make the region a tourist haven. But Sun Life Stadium is 25 years old, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stressed that the facility needs upgrading to remain a viable Super Bowl site.
The Dolphins were unsuccessful last year in seeking more than $220 million in tourist tax funds for stadium improvements. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said recently that no decision has been reached about another attempt to obtain public funding for stadium renovations.
"Stadium renovations are not part of the [Super Bowl] bid," Grossman said. "The Dolphins are responsible for our stadium package, and if they get the impression from their discussions with the NFL that improvements are necessary, then I'm sure they'll make them."
Regarding the obstacle to Super Bowl L, which Barreto terms "the golden ring," he said: "It's no secret that the NFL traditionally awards a city a Super Bowl once they build a brand new stadium. That's the first thing were competing against. They're competing against a [region] that has hosted the most Super Bowls. That's going to be the competition. It's not all about the stadium. We have so much to offer in South Florida."
Especially on President's Day weekend.