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How are Super Bowl cities selected?

Ahead of Super Bowl LVI 2022 at the SoFi stadium in Inglewood California, we look at the history of venues selected for the NFL’s showpiece game.

Feb 1, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; The Super Bowl LVI numerals logo is seen at SoFi Stadium. Super Bowl 56 between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals will be played on Feb. 13, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

Highest ranked team? Largest capacity? Decent weather? Presidential choice? Have you ever pondered why a particular venue is chosen for the Super Bowl each year? If so, satisfy your curiosity once and for all with our explanation.

How is a Super Bowl stadium chosen?

The Los Angeles Rams will take on the Cincinnati Bengals at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on 14 February and 6:30 p.m. eastern time in the US, 3:30 p.m. PT.

But why was this, and why were other locations chosen?

Weather here nor there

The truth is that the venue decision used to be very much a weather related issue. With the season coming to its climax in February, Alaska was always unlikely to be a state to get the nod, although climate change may change that in the future!

The warmer climes of Miami, New Orleans and Los Angeles have seen them lead the way with the number of Super Bowls held there. The Greater Miami area for example will host for their 12th time in 2021, while New Orleans has taken charge on ten previous occasions and the Greater LA region seven times.

Bidding for the Bowl

Weather, however, is not the deciding factor. Instead the bidding cities must compete to get the responsibility and honor, and this process has changed over the years. In the past, the NFL would invite cities to make a bid. From those that did, the options would be whittled down by the league to a few ‘finalists’ who would then be asked to submit their presentation. These documents - which can be up to 600 pages and take around a year to compile - would then be reviewed and decided upon by the 32 team owners.

In recent years, though, this model has changed. Since 2018, and therefore for Super Bowl LVII onwards, the large-scale competition was done away with and the NFL now contacts their chosen venue and ask them to put together a suitable proposal. The owners then vote to accept or deny.

Some of the conditions to be fulfilled by the host city/venue

- The host stadium must be in a market that hosts an NFL team and must have a minimum of 70,000 seats, with the media and electrical amenities necessary to produce the Super Bowl. Stadiums may include temporary seating for Super Bowls, but seating must be approved by the league. Stadiums where the average game day temperature is below 50 °F (10 °C) must either have a roof or a waiver given by the league. There must be a minimum of 35,000 parking spaces within one mile of the stadium.

- The host stadium must have space for the Gameday Experience, a large pregame entertainment area, within walking distance of the stadium.

- The host city must have space for the NFL Experience, the interactive football theme park which is operated the week prior to the Super Bowl. An indoor venue for the event must have a minimum of 850,000 square feet (79,000 m2), and an outdoor venue must have a minimum of 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2). Additionally, there must be space nearby for the Media Center, and space for all other events involved in the Super Bowl week, including golf courses and bowling alleys.

- The necessary infrastructure must be in place around the stadium and other Super Bowl facilities, including parking, security, electrical needs, media needs, communication needs, and transportation needs.

- There must be a minimum number of hotel spaces within one hour's drive of the stadium equaling 35% of the stadium's capacity, along with hotels for the teams, officials, media, and other dignitaries. (For Super Bowl XXXIX, the city of Jacksonville docked several luxury cruise liners at their port to act as temporary hotel space).

- There must be practice space of equal and comparable quality for both teams within a twenty minute drive of the team hotels, and rehearsal space for all events within a reasonable distance to the stadium. The practice facilities must have one grass field and at least one field of the same surface as the host stadium.

- The stadium must have a minimum of 70,000 fixed seats, including club and fixed suite seating, during regular season operations. (Source: "NFL's lengthy list of requirements for Super Bowl host city leaked". Sports Illustrated)

Another little piece of knowledge worth noting: on 7 January the Bucs will become the first side in history to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Where are the future Super Bowls to be held?

After this season’s finale at the SoFi stadium in California, we’ll be off to the State Farm stadium for the Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona.

In 2024, the Allegiant stadium will play host whereas in 2025 the Super Bowl will be held at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.


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