Super Bowl race appears to be rigged for New York
TAMPA - While the Tampa Bay area puts its best Super Bowl foot forward in a Dallas hotel Tuesday, the New York contingent should walk into the ballroom wearing galoshes. NFL owners are awarding the 2014 Super Bowl during their annual spring meeting, and this game appears rigged from the start. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who talks a good game about making fans his paramount concern, is eager to place the sporting public in potentially brutal conditions at the open-air stadium about to open at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. Tampa Bay's four-minute presentation in Dallas will focus on the region's success in hosting four Super Bowls, the temperate climate of the Suncoast in February and the reputation of Raymond James Stadium as one of the NFL's most lauded facilities.The essence of New York's bid? Hey, we're New York. That's not nearly good enough, but Goodell is driving this subway car and he has considerable clout among the owners who pay his prodigious salary. South Florida is also in the mix, but that bid figures to be dismissed after the preliminary vote, leaving Tampa Bay vs. New York. Central Park vs. Central Ybor. Majority rules. With the Jets and Giants casting ballots, the Big Apple will need 15 votes out of the remaining 30 owners to become the first cold-weather Super Bowl site with an open-air stadium. It's a precedent that makes no sense, but it's probably going to happen. The NFL Network, controlled by the league, wouldn't be televising the announcement live on Tuesday afternoon unless Goodell believed he had the necessary votes. Tampa Bay still has a shot to spring an upset. In 2005, when Bay area officials traveled to the nation's capital for an announcement on the 2009 game, Tampa was considered a longshot to Atlanta. But with strong presentations by Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer and Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, the Bay area landed America's showcase sports event. The stakes are even higher this time. If the New York bid proves successful, Tampa Bay could be shut out of the Super Bowl chase for the rest of the decade. Unlike Arizona, Tampa Bay didn't quit. Once Glendale officials became convinced Tuesday's announcement would be a coronation for New York, they dropped out of the 2014 competition, citing financial distress in a region hit hard by plunging real estate values. Withdrawing a bid because of economic concerns sounded like a reasonable move - until it became apparent Arizona will be pushing hard for the 2015 game. Tampa Bay remains in the 2014 hunt, still talking up our beaches, our hospitality, our allure as a premier winter destination. New York is talking up Chinatown, Battery Park and Times Square. In February. Unless reason prevails, a group of wealthy, powerful NFL owners is about to be led down a slushy path by a commissioner determined to reward New York for building a new home for the Giants and Jets. Awarding the Super Bowl to New Meadowlands Stadium might be the worst idea since Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty shook hands to participate in "Ishtar," but the New York bid has momentum. It also has the support of other Northeast owners like New England's Bob Kraft and Philadelphia's Jeff Lurie, businessmen who are determined to lure the game to their own open-air facilities. What about Broncos owner Pat Bowlen? Don't the Rockies deserve their Super Bowl Sunday, amid the flurries? Like Goodell keeps reminding us, it's all about the shield. Even when it's frozen.
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