The next three Super Bowls will be played in New Orleans, New Jersey and Glendale, Az respectively. It's the fourth, however, that's looming large. That will be the NFL's 50th Super Bowl - Super Bowl L for you Latin majors - and the league will look for a bang wherever it's played.
Earlier today The Sports Business Daily's Daniel Kaplan played odds maker and speculated that the 49ers and their new stadium stand the best chance of hosting Super Bowl L with Jerry Jones and the Cowboys perhaps the biggest competition. To read Kaplan's piece, click here.
The 49ers, meanwhile, say they plan to throw their hat into the ring for a future Super Bowl but have not yet decided whether to shoot for Super Bowl L, which will be played in February 2016, or one of the ensuing games. The team aims to open its new billion-dollar stadium in 2014, and teams are required to play two full seasons in their new venues before hosting a Super Bowl. Despite an earlier-than-planned start to construction, there is still some question as to whether the stadium will be ready for the 2014 or 2015 season, which would dictate whether the 49ers can host Super Bowl L.
The NFL likes to place Super Bowls in new venues (see: Arlington, Texas in 2011) and the 49ers will have the newest digs when Super Bowl L rolls around. There also would be a nice bit of symmetry. The first Super Bowl was played in California - in Los Angeles in 1967 - and one hasn't been held in the Golden State since the Raiders and Buccaneers squared off in San Diego in 2003.
The new Santa Clara stadium will hold 68,500 seats but can expand to 75,000 seats for special events. The NFL requires at least 70,000 seats for a Super Bowl.
But there would be some obstacles. Indianapolis drew rave reviews earlier this month for how it handled the big game and will be the measuring stick for future games. That city is moderate sized and compact - all of the hotels and the stadium are in and around downtown. A 49ers-hosted Super Bowl, on the other hand, conceivably would stretch from San Jose to San Francisco.
The weather also would be a concern, although the league has relaxed its policy on only playing the Super Bowl in warm-weather cities or domes. The open-air stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for example, will be the site of the 2014 Super Bowl and will serve as a template for a 49ers Super Bowl.
The league usually awards its Super Bowls at its May owners meeting. Bids usually are made in March and April.
-- Matt Barrows