SANTA CLARA -- With two months before the NFL picks between the Bay Area and Miami to host the 50th Super Bowl, local leaders are landing endorsements while South Florida is frantically trying to win public support.
Mayors and business leaders from across the Bay Area gathered Wednesday inside the shell of the San Francisco 49ers' new Santa Clara stadium to promote the Super Bowl bid while lawmakers in Florida were scurrying under a tight deadline to get a tax measure on the ballot to help upgrade their stadium.
"I feel pretty good'' about our chances, 49ers owner Jed York said. "When you talk about bringing the bowl to the Bay, it is going to take a regional effort."
The NFL's 32 owners on May 21 will select the host site for Super Bowl L, to be played in early 2016. Last year, the league selected two finalists: the Niners' new $1.2 billion Santa Clara home, which is 35 percent complete and on track to open in 2014, and Sun Life Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins play. At the same meeting in May, the owners will choose between the Miami-Bay Area loser and Houston to host the 51st Super Bowl.
The NFL must decide whether to reward its newest stadium in Santa Clara, which the NFL provided $200 million to help build, or nod to its history by giving the golden anniversary game to Miami, which has hosted 10 Super Bowls. But while Miami's bid is largely dependent on a last-ditch effort to secure a $400 million renovation -- requiring approval
Although a Bay Area game would be played in the South Bay, San Francisco would still be the official host and home to the bulk of the pre-game events and hotel stays.
Even with regional help, there was concern earlier this year that the financial demands from the NFL, a $9 billion-a-year superpower, would prove too great for little Santa Clara to handle. But Mayor Jamie Matthews said Wednesday that the City Council is expected to vote next week to approve a resolution of support for the bid after two months of closed-door meetings.
Santa Clara leaders agreed to NFL demands to exempt league employees from paying the city's hotel tax and support foregoing sales tax on Super Bowl tickets, among other concessions, Matthews said.
The city has also been assured that the Bay Area's Super Bowl Bid Committee -- a group that includes major CEOs, celebrities and other dignitaries -- is raising private funds to help offset the public costs associated with the game, such as police overtime.
"We'll be looking at the bid committee to make us whole," Matthews said.
Daniel Lurie, a San Francisco philanthropist who chairs the bid committee, noted the past five Super Bowls have generated about $250 million to $500 million in economic activity for host regions, and that past host cities keep coming back to request future games. He said the committee is on target to raise at least the $25 million -- the minimum past Super Bowl hosts have raised -- from corporate partners, which at the least will offset all public safety costs.
"We want Super Bowl 50 very badly. We can smell it," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.
Miami's bid, meanwhile, still hinges mostly on the Dolphins winning support from lawmakers and the public for a renovation to its 26-year-old stadium, an effort the NFL has strongly urged the team to accomplish before applying for a Super Bowl. The city is already skeptical of stadium deals after a recent Miami Marlins ballpark funding fiasco, which cost the city's mayor his job and left a sour taste in South Florida for financing sports stadiums.
Still, the Dolphins plan cleared its second legislative hurdle Wednesday when a Florida Senate committee unanimously approved the proposal, which would see the public fund slightly less than half the cost of the renovation through taxes.
If all goes well for the Dolphins, the Florida Legislature is on track to hear the proposal and potentially send it to Gov. Rick Scott to place it on the ballot under a dizzyingly fast-paced strategy. Miami-Dade voters would then have to approve the plan in a mid-May election just before the NFL owners meeting in Boston. A poll obtained Wednesday by the Miami Herald showed 73 percent of voters oppose the plan.
Yet Rodney Barreto, chair of South Florida's bid committee, said the Dolphins have internal polls showing the plan would win voter approval.
"We're very optimistic we're going to win," Barreto said. "We have a lot riding on it."
Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.