On Tuesday, the National Football League's team owners voted to hold Super Bowl XLVIII in New Meadowlands Stadium, awarding the big game in 2014 to the New York/New Jersey bid over competitors Tampa Bay and South Florida.
The final decision came after the maximum number of four votes and was televised live on the NFL Network for the first time ever. Though the league has never before held a Super Bowl in a cold-weather open-air venue, the lure of a new stadium and the New York metropolis – the chance, in essence, to make NFL history – was considered irresistible. Some communities who might have thrown their hats into the ring figured the battle wasn't worth it.
Not Tampa Bay.
The Bay area, host to four previous Super Bowls, including two at Raymond James Stadium, believed all along that it was equal to any competitor. Its bid beat out the South Florida contingent when the voting process required the third-place competitor to be dropped, and even after that step the New York/New Jersey group never got the 75% consensus that would have made the selection a slam dunk. Though the final vote tally was not made public, Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials were led to believe it was "extremely, extremely close."
For those who pushed for a fifth Super Bowl in the Bay area, the disappointment of losing the fourth and final vote to the New York/New Jersey group was quickly tempered by a feeling of accomplishment. With only a few votes separating the final two choices, it was clear that the Bay area was an extremely attractive choice all along.
"I'm proud of what we accomplished," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer, who worked closely with the Tampa Bay and Company host committee and who entered Tampa Bay's vote on Tuesday. "We came in here when people gave us no chance. We gave New York a good fight. I congratulate New York on their efforts and they will throw a great Super Bowl. If you ask me would I rather be another community that didn't want to step up because they heard they didn't have as shot – no, I'd rather give it a shot. You never know in life. I've gone through so many things in life where people said you don't have a shot and you step up and you try and you win."
Two Super Bowls have been held at Raymond James Stadium since it opened its doors in 1998 – XXXV and XLIII – and both events were judged to be rousing successes. Number three will not occur in February of 2014, but the wait might not be much longer.
"In this case, we didn't [win] but you know something? It has gotten us well-positioned for getting another Super Bowl in Tampa," said Glazer. "It's not going to be this one in 2014; maybe it's the year after or the year after that. You have to step up. That's what we do. The Tampa Bay area is a great area for Super Bowls. The owners know it and this vote was much closer than anyone ever anticipated, which is a great reflection on the Tampa Bay community. I'm proud of our efforts. We had a great team here."
Paul Catoe, president and CEO of Tampa Bay & Co., credited the tireless work of Bryan Glazer and the rest of the Buccaneers' ownership group in closing the gap in the final vote. Now that the XLVIII decision has been made, he will consult with the Glazers to determine whether or not the Bay area will bid on the games scheduled for the winters of 2015 and 2016.
Whenever the Bay area attempts to draw its next Super Bowl, all those involved in hunting game number XLVIII think the effort has put them in a very good position to try again.
"There are no guarantees," said Glazer. "I don't want to say that we are the frontrunner for next year because I think that would lead people to false expectations. We are a strong contender for next year or the year after. We will go back in there. We don't know who we are going to be bidding against but I feel like we're going to go in there. I feel like we came out of this in a very good position going into the next year or two."