The NFL appears to have settled on South Florida as the site for the 2007 Super Bowl.
Other Super Bowl locations are under consideration, as are two potential stadium proposals in the Los Angeles area, as league owners addressed a variety of issues during meetings here.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said owners are close to agreeing that the Super Bowl scheduled for February 2007 be held in Pro Player Stadium. He said they likely would likely give final approval during a special meeting Sept. 17.
New Orleans also had been considered for the 2007 game, but with the 2006 Super Bowl scheduled for Detroit's Ford Field, owners were reluctant to have back-to-back domed venues. Instead, they preferred an open-air stadium in a warm climate.
Meanwhile, a pair of northern sites -- New York/New Jersey and Washington, D.C. -- are among four candidates that have emerged to play host to the 2008 Super Bowl. Arizona and Tampa are also being considered.
Tagliabue said that game probably would be awarded in late October. In the unlikely event South Florida is not picked to host the 2007 Super Bowl, Tampa would be the leading choice as a replacement, according to the commissioner.
"I think there is pretty strong sentiment among the ownership that New York is unique for entertainment and Washington is unique as the center of politics," Tagliabue said of the '08 decision. "I have no personal preference. I think these give us four areas which could be excellent for a Super Bowl, provided the stadium is right."
With new facilities in Landover, Md., and Tampa, which hosted the 2001 Super Bowl, and construction under way for a new stadium in the Phoenix area, the only stadium question among the four candidates is in New York/New Jersey. Tagliabue pointed out Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., would need "major improvement" before it could host a Super Bowl.
Tagliabue said there is a long list of potential candidates for the 2009 Super Bowl, which he said owners would address either at their meetings in the fall of 2004 or in March 2005.
Owners also authorized Tagliabue to continue to work with representatives of Pasadena, Calif., and the Rose Bowl, and of Carson City, Calif., and a development group there regarding a stadium that would finally result in an NFL team returning to the Los Angeles area.
"Both of these projects are symmetrical," Tagliabue said. "That means they both have the potential to be state-of-the-art stadiums, and neither one involves any ownership (of a team)."
Although Carson City is the only one for which the NFL could put up "a sum of money intended to cover some of the costs of the initial development period," the commissioner said the league was not leaning more heavily toward one city or the other.
"It's a dead heat right now," Tagliabue said. "We've been in discussions with both of these cities for quite some time. We met with both groups in early March and we are continuing to go forward on a parallel basis."
Tagliabue said the earliest a team could be expected to play in either location was 2006. With no plans for expanding the 32-team league on the immediate horizon, it seems the most likely means of Los Angeles getting an NFL team is through relocation.
"Both of these cities have been very forthcoming in their dealings with us -- both the mayors and the city councils," Tagliabue said. "We look forward to working in the months ahead with both of them to see what can be developed that would make sense to their communities and possibly for the National Football League."
In other meeting developments:
- After meeting at the Philadelphia Marriott in the morning, owners moved their afternoon session to the headquarters of NFL Films, in nearby Mt. Laurel, N.J. For many, it marked the first look at the newly constructed state-of-the-art center for all of the league's digital video production. While there, owners received a comprehensive update on plans for the new NFL Network, which is expected to launch in early November. Part of the Network's programming will emanate from NFL Films.
- Owners, club executives and about 130 coaches attending the NFL's annual coaches' seminar will gather for a working breakfast May 21. There will be business presentations, including one on the league's diversity initiative that will feature Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox, Steelers coach Bill Cowher and Jets coach Herman Edwards.