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October 16, 2012
Nifty 50? Bay Area, 49ers finalists to host Super Bowl L

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The 49ers and the Bay Area will compete against South Florida to host Super Bowl L. The loser of that competition will then take on Houston to host the following year's Super Bowl, a league source said Tuesday. The location of both Super Bowls will be decided at the spring owners meeting in May.

The next three Super Bowls will be played in New Orleans, New Jersey and Glendale, Ariz. respectively. The next one to be awarded has special meaning because it will be the 50th game played. Super Bowl L will be played in February 2016. Teams are required to play two full seasons in their new venues before hosting a Super Bowl, meaning that the 49ers will qualify if they begin playing in their $1.2 billion stadium in 2014 as expected. The building is currently ahead of schedule.

There is good reason to think that the Bay Area could host the marquee event.

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 last Super Bowl in the Bay Area was in January 1985.

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 also 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 49ers are expected to embrace their regional reach in their formal bid, noting that destinations like Napa/Sonoma and the Monterey Bay are not far away. Team officials also note that South Florida's bid also would lack Indianapolis' compactness.

The weather also could be a factor, 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. The average high temperature in February in San Jose is 62 degrees. The average low is 45 degrees.

Meanwhile, Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters at the NFL Fall meeting in Chicago that the team has no plans to share the Santa Clara stadium with the 49ers. "I give the 49ers all the credit in the world for getting a shovel in the ground in California," Davis told NFL.com. "That's phenomenal. But we're trying to get our situation right. It's not easy to do."

Davis said the team would concentrate on building a new facility at the site of the current Oakland County Coliseum or at another site in Dublin.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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