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South Florida Didn’t Make Super Bowl 2015 Cut

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4)- South Florida is out of the list of cities to host Super Bowl 2015. Tampa and Phoenix beat out South Florida as finalists for the Super Bowl, a surprise thumbs-down from the National Football League as lawmakers consider a tax-funded renovation at SunLife stadium.

It’s unclear why South Florida didn’t make the cut, since the NFL typically picks from among South Florida, Tampa, Phoenix and New Orleans when looking for a warm-weather Super Bowl venue.

With New Orleans already hosting the 2013 game, that left the other three as natural contenders for 2015. A balmy host city was almost a given after the NFL decided to send the 2014 Super Bowl to New Jersey, with its new roofless stadium and bitter winters. Miami’s chances seemed to get a boost in February when a rare Dallas snowstorm caused logistical nightmares for that area’s first Super Bowl.

“We are disappointed to hear that we are not on the short list,’’ Dolphins spokesman George Torres wrote in an e-mail Friday evening. “While we have not been informed of the reason for not making the list, this will not deter us from submitting a bid for the 2016 Super Bowl.’’

The Dolphins want higher hotel taxes in Miami-Dade for a $225 million partial roof and other stadium upgrades that team executives and some business leaders say are crucial to recruit Super Bowls. Spectators at the 2007 Super Bowl were drenched in a rare February downpour in South Florida, helping spark a campaign for a sheltered venue to attract the Super Bowl and other major sporting events.

But the NFL’s decision to let only Phoenix and Tampa bid on the 2015 game may touch on more complicated issues.

Among the disputes behind the current labor crisis facing football is an NFL demand for longer seasons. More games could push Super Bowl into President’s Day weekend, the busiest for tourism in South Florida thanks to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the Miami International Boat Show.

Last year, South Florida tourism officials told the NFL they would not accept the 2014 Super Bowl if it were played on President’s Day weekend. With players and owners locked in a court battle over a new labor agreement, NFL executives may feel more confident of winning a longer season.

“Maybe this time they were seriously considering a Super Bowl on President’s Day weekend,’’ said Nicki Grossman, Broward County tourism director and an active player in South Florida’s Super Bowl bids. “Logistically there’s no reason that game doesn’t come here every year.’’

An NFL spokesman was not available for comment Friday. The 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis remains in doubt as owners and players battle in court over a lockout owners imposed this spring. Players returned to training camps this week after a federal judge lifted the lockout order, but legal observers think owners could prevail and turn away players again.

South Florida holds the record for hosting the most Super Bowls, though New Orleans will share the title when it hosts its 10th in 2013. Though the game’s economic impact is a hot topic for debate, independent estimates put it somewhere in the $100 million range for South Florida.

There’s no doubt it provides a boon to tourism. Hotel taxes surged 25 percent when South Florida’s last Super Bowl came to town in 2010, according to state data.

A Dolphins-backed bill would let Miami-Dade increase the maximum hotel tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, with the extra revenue shared between the Miami Beach Convention Center and SunLife Stadium. In March a Florida Senate committee recommended passage of the legislation, which Miami Beach officially opposes.

Though foul weather is a major argument the Dolphins make for improving SunLife, the NFL apparently is willing to risk another Florida downpour during a Super Bowl. While the University of Phoenix stadium in Arizona does have a roof, the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa does not.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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