49ers, Bay Area could host 50th Super Bowl

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 - 5:12 pm

SANTA CLARA – South Beach or Silicon Valley?

The 49ers and the Bay Area will compete with South Florida to host the NFL's 50th Super Bowl in 2016, league owners decided Tuesday.

The loser will take on Houston for the right to host Super Bowl LI in 2017.

The next three Super Bowls will be played in New Orleans, East Rutherford, N.J., and Glendale, Ariz. It's the next Super Bowl to be awarded, however, that looms large because it's the 50th event – Super Bowl L – and the NFL will look for a bang wherever it's held.

South Florida has hosted more Super Bowls – 10 – than any other region, although owners said Miami's Sun Life Stadium would need upgrades before hosting another game. The decision on Super Bowls L and LI will be made at the spring owners' meeting in May.

There's reason to be optimistic that the Bay Area could host the marquee event.

The NFL likes Super Bowls in new venues, and the 49ers will have the newest stadium when Super Bowl L rolls around.

Teams are required to play two seasons in new stadiums before hosting a Super Bowl, meaning the 49ers will qualify if they open their $1.2 billion stadium in 2014 as expected. Construction is ahead of schedule.

The Santa Clara stadium will have 68,500 seats but can be expanded to 75,000 for special events. The NFL requires at least 70,000 seats for a Super Bowl.

There also would be a nice bit of symmetry if the Bay Area gets to host Super Bowl L.

The first Super Bowl was played in California – in Los Angeles in 1967 – and one hasn't been held in the state since the Raiders and Tampa Bay played in San Diego in 2003. The last Super Bowl in the Bay Area was in 1985, when the 49ers and Miami met at Stanford.

By February 2016, the 49ers will practice and play games in Santa Clara, just north of San Jose, even though they will retain the San Francisco name.

The team is working with San Francisco officials on the bid, and the 49ers' regional reach, with destinations like the Napa Valley and Monterey not far away, will play an important role.

The league also has relaxed its policy on playing Super Bowls only in warm-weather cities or under roofs. The open-air stadium in East Rutherford, for example, will host the 2014 Super Bowl. The average high temperature in February in San Jose is 62 degrees, the average low 45.

In other stadium news, Raiders owner Mark Davis said Tuesday his team has no plans to share the Santa Clara stadium with the 49ers.

"I give the 49ers all the credit in the world for getting a shovel in the ground in California," Davis told NFL.com. "That's phenomenal. But we're trying to get our situation right. It's not easy to do."

Davis said his team would concentrate on building a new facility at the O.co Coliseum site or in Dublin.

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