Not-So Destination Wedding Super Bowl

07
Jun

The bidding for host sites of mega sporting events has become an event in itself these days. As the FIFA World Cup looms and preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero continues, Brazil has caused much more than a stir when it comes to the politics of hosting a world-wide event. The World Cup and the Olympics take a gargantuan effort from an urban planning standpoint as each organization gives its host city over a decade to build its arenas and create a spectacle that a global audience has never had the likes of seeing. Yet, stateside, we still find a way to fit football into the mix. In late May, the Super Bowl selection committee awarded the 2018 Super Bowl game to Minneapolis just months after the city revealed renderings for a new downtown stadium to replace the deflated Metrodome.

But you ask, why Minneapolis? The event that is most associated with warm weather is all but flocking to cold weather climates for its gridiron classic. Just months after the much anticipated first-cold-weather-outdoor Super Bowl ended in an almost unwatchable fashion, the selection committee has chosen to return to the frozen tundra, this time indoors. Minneapolis is known for its skybridges to get from place to place. February is a brutal month in terms of weather for Minneapolis. For the visitors of the game, the committee has resorted to flash over hospitality. In comparison to the NBA, NHL and MLB, which all contest a series of games to crown a champion in their home stadiums; the NFL has always had a destination finale. Prior to 2000, 24 out of the first 33 Super Bowls were held in three locations: Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans. These cities provide the bravado of tourist towns with the capacity and knowledge of how to handle the incoming swath of super-fans. Their reign has all but ended as NFL owners have seen the explosion of corporate dollars bloating the Lombardi trophy like it’s a prized pig and have jumped on the opportunity to make a push for their stadium as the next benefactor.

In the past 10 years, the Super Bowl has landed in cities unforeseen to the average American, such as Glendale, Arlington and, in two years’ time, Santa Clara. The NFL is keen on providing an image of itself that lives up to the Big Game. This vision has led to many cities building world-class facilities with over $1 billion price tags. The Super Bowl was last played in Los Angeles at its famed Rose Bowl stadium in 1993, which was built in 1922 for $272,000 at the time ($3.8 million today). Miami’s Orange Bowl opened in 1937 for the low price of $340,000 ($5.6 Million today) and the Superdome in New Orleans, which has hosted six championships, was completed in 1975 for $134 Million (just over $587 Million today). Although the Superdome was designed solely for this purpose and it cost over 100 times what the Orange Bowl did 40 years earlier, the efforts of the most recent expansion of NFL facilities is mind-numbing. Here are a few facts behind each project in the past 10 years:1

Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas (Awarded 2000)
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – Populous/HOK Sport, $352 Million
Seats – 71,054
Completed in 2002, Venue for Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004), LI (2017)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – 16 Minutes

University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona (Awarded 2003)
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – Populous/HOK Sport, $455 Million
Seats – 72,200 (expandable)
Completed in 2006, Venue for Super Bowl XLII (2008), XLIX (2015)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – 24 Minutes

AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas (Awarded 2007)
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – HKS, $1.15 Billion
Seats – 105,000 (expandable)
Completed in 2009, Venue for Super Bowl XLV (2011)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – 25 Minutes

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana (Awarded in 2008)2
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – HKS, $720 Million
Seats – 70,000 (expandable)
Completed in 2008, Venue for Super Bowl XLVI (2012)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – <5 Minutes

MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, New Jersey (Awarded in 2010)3
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – 360 Architecture, $1.6 Billion
Seats – 82,566
Completed in 2010, Venue for Super Bowl XLVIII (2014)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – 26 Minutes

Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California (Awarded in 2014)4
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – HNTB, $1.3 Billion
Seats – 75,000 (expandable)
Completed in 2014, Venue for Super Bowl 50 (2016)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – 52 Minutes

Vikings’ Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota (Awarded in 2014)5
Design Team/Estimated Cost of Construction – HKS, $976.2 Million
Seats – 73,000 (expandable)
Expected Completion in 2016, Venue for Super Bowl LII (2018)
Travel time from City Center to Stadium – <5 minutes

I would like to lend notice to a few of the trends with these new facilities. Each stadium was to be complete within four years of its selection. Indianapolis and Minneapolis are the two facilities that can be considered downtown, as the rest require a commute to the stadium of 15 minutes to nearly an hour. Conglomerate design teams such as HOK and HKS facilitated this fast-track work, with eye-popping architectural and structural masterpieces. They have seized a strangle-hold on these extraordinary commissions, completing 5 out of the 7 structures.

From Jerry-World to retractable roofs and expandable seating, these stadiums are exactly the venues the NFL wants as a part of their asset stream. Whether we can consider this trend in stadium construction a feasible way for the Big Game to be quantified, its one way that we know the NFL will continue to skyrocket in its evaluation. As its bills rise due to its lawsuits with former players over helmet and concussion scandals, the league’s power lies in its portfolio. I give Minneapolis credit – replacing the Metrodome as one of the iconic pieces of NFL History will be difficult. By bringing the pinnacle of this country’s sporting events to where it used to sit will be a great thing for the city, even if revenue doesn’t offset the cost of the building.


  1. The following were pulled from various stadium websites and Wikipedia 

  2. Per LucasOilStadium.com 

  3. Per MetLife Stadium site 

  4. Per LevisStadium.com 

  5. Per Vikings.com 

About the author: Daniel Hoogenboom

Growing up on Tobacco Road, college basketball runs in my veins deeper than the two times a year Carolina and Duke get together. Although March may be the best three weeks in sports, later in the Springtime brings the season I live for -- the professional golf majors. Through all that spectating, this North Carolina native breathes the competition that match play rounds bring between my Dad and I beyond all else.