TAMPA — After falling just short in its past two attempts to serve as Super Bowl host, Tampa Bay is bidding to land the NFL's showcase game for Raymond James Stadium in 2018. Bay area officials alerted the league three weeks ago of the region's interest in serving as the 2018 Super Bowl site. Indianapolis emerged Friday as another suitor for the next available game. The 2012 Super Bowl was played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay hasn't been selected as the host city since 2009. The Bay area also served as Super Bowl host in 1984, 1991 and 2001. “All we've done is we had an opportunity to express to the NFL our interest,'' said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “We couldn't respond fast enough.''
Besides the confirmed Indianapolis interest, other potential suitors for the 2018 game include Denver, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Miami and Dallas. The NFL is expected to narrow the 2018 Super Bowl field in October and announce the host site during the league's May meetings, scheduled for Atlanta. Tampa Bay competed hard against New York/New Jersey for the 2014 Super Bowl before the game was awarded to new Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the first time America's No. 1 sports event will be played in a cold-weather, open-air facility. The Bay area lost out to Glendale, Ariz., in bidding for the 2015 game, in part because Arizona was one year ahead of Tampa in the Super Bowl rotation. In May, owners awarded the 2016 game, marking the 50th Super Bowl, to a new stadium under construction in Santa Clara, Calif. The 2017 game is heading to Houston, which hasn't served as a Super Bowl site since 2004. “Now we'll wait and see what happens in October,'' Higgins said. email@example.com (813) 259-7833 Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO