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2016's Super Bowl L (That's 50) Headed to City by the Bay

A rendering of the San Francisco 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., by HNTB
source: hntb.com
A rendering of the San Francisco 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., by HNTB

The Super Bowl 50, in 2016, will be in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the NFL championship will go to Houston the following year, the league announced Tuesday.

Team owners voted for the 49ers' new stadium as host of the big game. The facility, in Santa Clara, Calif., is scheduled to open for the 2014 season.

San Francisco beat out South Florida, which was stymied in its bid to stage an 11th Super Bowl when the Florida Legislature did not support financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium.

"After losing a Super Bowl [to Baltimore], it feels really good to win a Super Bowl," 49ers CEO Jed York said.

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Houston, which also won out over Miami, was awarded the 2017 title game. It has hosted once before, in 2004.

The only previous Super Bowl played in northern California was at Stanford Stadium in 1985.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the 2016 decision, members of the San Francisco bid committee let out a roar of approval, then toasted each other with Champagne.

"We are so excited to be able to be able to put on the 'Golden Super Bowl' in the Golden State," York said.

Asked what he believed had swayed the owners to vote for San Francisco, he added, "It's the will power of an entire area that gave an overwhelming push for us."

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The vote marked the first time in a decade that a Super Bowl was awarded on the first ballot.

"The Bay Area has been waiting for a [title] game since 1985," said Daniel Lurie, a leader of the San Francisco bid. "We have a stadium now. ... We are just thrilled and couldn't be happier about this. We are going to get to highlight the best the Bay Area has to offer."

The Dolphins were denied public money for a stadium upgrade in South Florida following widespread complaints about the public investment sunk into the Marlins' new baseball home.

Multibillionaire Dolphins owner Stephen Ross contends that $350 million in stadium improvements are badly needed, but he doesn't want to pay for them by himself. Nor does he want a scaled-down renovation of the 26-year-old facility.

Miami has hosted 10 Super Bowls—tied with New Orleans for the most.

York suggested that San Francisco's winning bid offered a lesson in politics.

"If this Super Bowl can show the state of California and other communities the opportunity with a new stadium to bring in fresh business, it could be a catalyst that stadiums can be built for Oakland and San Diego, which are in need of new ones," he said. "This may be the impetus to get one of those done."

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For years, it was thought the NFL would seek to stage Super Bowl L in Los Angeles, where the first one was played (but did not sell out) on Jan. 15, 1967. But with no franchise there and no suitable stadium projects approved, that hope disappeared.

Next Feb. 2, the game goes outdoors in a cold-weather site for the first time, at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. If that gamble pays off for the NFL, look for other cities in similar climates—Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver—to bid for future Super Bowls.

The 2015 game will be played in the Phoenix area.

Earlier Tuesday, owners approved a $200 million loan for stadium construction in Atlanta. The multipurpose venue could cost as much as $1 billion, with team owner Arthur Blank committed to funding most of it. Blank, speaking at the NFL's spring meetings, called the decision by owners an "important milestone" in moving the project forward.

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