NFL owners came to Charlotte on Tuesday for their annual spring meeting, voting on Super Bowl sites and approving a change to the league’s replay system.
If you build it, the NFL will come
In results that surprised no one, owners voted to play the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls in Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles, respectively.
Atlanta and L.A. are building stadiums at costs of more than $1 billion – estimates have the L.A. construction exceeding $2.6 billion as the world’s most expensive stadium. Miami owner Stephen Ross put up $500 million for renovations to the Dolphins’ stadium highlighted by a partial roof.
New Orleans and Tampa Bay, the other cities that were considered, have not started any major stadium projects recently.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said rewarding owners who make big capital investments – and taxpayers who help fund the stadiums – is good business.
“The other owners, they realize to build a stadium today is a huge capital investment. The league does its part to support it. But it requires a great public-private partnership to do it,” Blank said.
“I think the message it also sends to communities that are considering other NFL stadiums, this is going to be important in terms of Super Bowls. A Super Bowl is – if not the biggest event – one of the biggest events in the world in terms of a sport opportunity. Probably that and the World Cup.”
Charlotte needs new stadium to be in Super Bowl mix
Or at a minimum, a stadium renovation that includes more than new escalators and suite improvements.
Asked about the possibility of Charlotte hosting the game in the future, commissioner Roger Goodell talked more generally, saying it takes a very large city with a lot of hotel rooms and airports than can handle 100,000 additional travelers the week of the game.
Charlotte is close to meeting the hotel rooms criteria, and Charlotte Douglas is the fifth-busiest airport in the U.S.
The weather in the Carolinas in early February is a little dicey. But with Minneapolis, Indianapolis and New York/New Jersey all getting Super Bowls, it’s clear a new (or vastly improved) stadium trumps all.
And while Goodell called Bank of America Stadium “a great stadium,” Charlotte’s not getting – or even bidding for – a Super Bowl any time soon.
Goodell takes a stand against HB2
It wasn’t as strong as the NBA threatening to pull the All-Star Game from Charlotte in 2017. But Goodell made his strongest public comments on House Bill 2, passed by the General Assembly in March that preempted the Charlotte ordinance expanding the city’s nondiscrimination policy to cover LGBT people.
Goodell stopped short of calling for North Carolina legislators to repeal the controversial bill, but said the league supports Charlotte leaders’ efforts at diversity.
Goodell was speaking at the close of Tuesday’s meeting, which the league kept at the Ballantyne Hotel in the midst of various economic boycotts throughout the state in response to HB2.
Goodell said he spoke with Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts on Monday about the issue.
“We support those efforts. Anything that discriminates is something that we oppose, and we will continue to fight that,” Goodell said. “But we have a franchise here. The Carolina Panthers play here. They operate here. And we want to work with the community. We’re not going to threaten the community. We’re going to work with the community to make the effective changes that are necessary long-term.”
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York on Tuesday called for a repeal of HB2 and pledged $75,000 to further the work of the Equality NC, a LGBT rights advocacy group.
Slow roll (maybe) on the Raiders-to-Vegas talks
While Raiders owner Mark Davis continues to talk giddily about the prospects of relocating to Las Vegas, Goodell predictably took a more measured tone.
Goodell said the Vegas talks were “premature,” noting owners have yet to perform any market studies or see any stadium proposals. He also mentioned that league officials would have to consider Vegas “from a gambling standpoint” as well.
Meanwhile, Davis did little to quell the speculation.
“I’ve given my commitment to Las Vegas,” Davis told NFL Network. “And if they can come through with what they’re talked about doing, then we’ll go to Las Vegas.”
League OKs more oversight on replay reviews
Owners passed a measure to allow officials to consult with the league’s officiating department during replay reviews in certain administrative areas.
Goodell implemented the rule last year for the playoffs following a couple of high-profile mistakes involving game-clock management and penalty assessment in 2015. That change becomes permanent, but only in helping on-field officials with issues involving proper down, assessment of penalty yardage and clock management.
Owners considered two other rule proposals Tuesday, voting down a proposal by Washington that would have eliminated the first roster cutdown from 90 to 75 players during the preseason.
Owners tabled a measure to let coaches and players to look at video replays on tablets on the sideline. The league will allow the use of videos on the sideline during the exhibition season on a trial basis.
Future Super Bowl sites
Cities that have been awarded Super Bowls by the NFL:
2021: Los Angeles