Around Town

Could Charlotte host a Super Bowl?

Just because a team from Charlotte is in the Super Bowl doesn’t mean we could actually host one… yet.

North America’s biggest sporting event may as well be a holiday for the U.S. — and years of work for the host city. While it’s considered a great honor for a city to host the Super Bowl, a great amount of effort goes into hosting that spectators don’t see. The bidding process itself takes years to accomplish (i.e. Minneapolis won the bid for the 2018 Super Bowl way back in May of 2014).

Charlotte’s a world class city, right? We just sent a team to the Big Game, surely we’re ready to host this giant party.

Not so fast.

The biggest knock you hear about the QC hosting the Super Bowl is the lack of hotel rooms. Right now, we’re sitting just under 5,000 hotel rooms uptown with about 2,000 more under construction. That would bring us to just underneath 7,000 rooms uptown —which is still LOWER than the 7,500 downtown hotel rooms Indianapolis had for the 2012 Super Bowl. With this event booked up until 2018, you would think the NFL would like a host city to have more downtown hotels than what Charlotte has presently.

Whatever — I’m already used to cranes and construction uptown. What’s another couple of thousand hotel rooms? That’s all we need, right?

Wrong. The Minneapolis Star Tribune obtained a lengthy 153 page document about host city requirements. If you have the time, the document is here and it has some interesting requests. Chief among them were:

– Three “top quality” golf courses (Quail Hollow and Charlotte Country Club are in the city. Pinehurst No. 2 is close and legendary enough).

– Two “top quality” bowling venues (Thank you Strike City and 10 Park Lanes!).

– Team Hotels are required to include the NFL Network in their channel lineup up to one year prior to the Super Bowl (I called the Ritz-Carlton Uptown — they don’t have the NFL Network. Might want to get on that).

So we’re close right? We satisfy most of these requirements. Just keep throwing money at the problem and it will fix itself.

Well, there’s one more thing to consider.

The stadium itself.

Let’s take a look at the latest cities to lock up a Super Bowl bid and their host stadiums.

2014East Rutherford, NJMetLife Stadium82,566200+2010
2015Phoenix, ArizonaUniversity of Phoenix Stadium72,200 (expanded)882006
2016Santa Clara, CALevi’s Stadium75,000 (expanded)1762014
2017Houston, TXNRG Stadium71,795 (expanded)1962002
2018Minneapolis, MNUS Bank Stadium73,000 (expanded)131July 2016
????Charlotte, NCBank of America Stadium75,4121531996

This is in the realm of possibility. While not as flashy as other stadiums on this list, the Bank isn’t far off from what other stadiums have used before.

We aren’t quite there yet as a city, but we’re closer than most outsiders would think we are.

How will we know if we’re making the right strides? Here’s a couple of things to look at over the next few years.

– The CIAA Tournament’s future. The basketball tournament has become a huge event for the city year after year. Sure, the uptown traffic is a headache but if you think traffic is bad for the CIAA, just wait until the NFL comes to town. If the city retains this tournament (and the events) after the 2020 contract is up, that’s a good sign.

– The ACC Championship/Belk Bowl/College Football Playoff. No better way to determine how you would do with the NFL than to see how you do in college first. The city of Charlotte has been hosting the ACC Championship and the Belk Bowl for years now. That partnership doesn’t seem to be ending soon. We also recently missed a bid to host the College Football Playoff championship game. If the good people at Charlotte Sports Foundation try again, I expect their first attempt will be a learning experience for a second one.

– The 2017 NBA All-Star Game. You want a small taste of what Super-Bowl-Level atmosphere will be like without actually hosting a Super Bowl? Here’s your chance. If the All-Star Game goes well from an event standpoint, expect our city to look forward.

Photo: Corey Inscoe