NEW ORLEANS -- Daniel Lurie turned a corner in the French Quarter and came face-to-face with his potential future.
It was a giant painted football, alongside a row of stages for various television networks, one looked over by a large Mardi Gras clown statue. Music tents were under construction. Banners covered fences. The nearby convention center was filled of NFL exhibits and media.
In other words, the Super Bowl was successfully executing another nonhostile takeover of an American city.
Lurie absorbed it all and took mental notes. He is here to scout and learn. He is the point man for San Francisco's bid to host the Super Bowl in three or four years, after the new 49ers' stadium is finished in Santa Clara.
"It's massive," Lurie said, surveying the landscape. "But from what I've seen ... I haven't been overwhelmed yet. Our region was built to host events like this."
He said it emphasizing the word "region," which was no accident.
"If there's one thing I want to be clear about, it's that this is a Bay Area effort," Lurie said. "It's a San Francisco bid. But our slogan is, 'Bring The Bowl To The Bay.' "
Hmmmm. Interesting. Everyone who loves football or big events seems to agree that it's a wonderful notion to have the Bay Area play host to another Super Bowl, which would be the first since the 1985 game at Stanford. But the politics of it are sensitive, if not downright dicey.
Here's why: When the 49ers
However, voices in Santa Clara and Silicon Valley have expressed legitimate questions about whether they might be left out of the most lucrative Super Bowl fun. If fans all stay in San Francisco and all the big parties and ancillary events are held there, what's left for the South Bay?
"I hear those people who worry about it," acknowledged Lurie, who was appointed to his volunteer/nonsalaried position by Lee. "But the promise is to have events throughout the region. ... We really believe people who come to the Super Bowl will want to spend a full week in the Bay Area. That could include everywhere from Napa Valley to Carmel and in between."
Also, as Lurie pointed out, the San Francisco bid calls for the two competing Super Bowl teams to be housed while utilizing practice facilities at Stanford and San Jose State. And the NFL's game operations/security force will be housed for weeks at South Bay hotels.
First things first, though. The San Francisco group must secure the game itself by winning approval from the NFL owners. This will involve -- you guessed it -- more politics.
"There are no guarantees," Lurie said. "It's going to be tough competition."
He is uniquely equipped to build all the necessary bridges. In his "real" life, Lurie is the chief executive officer of Tipping Point, a San Francisco philanthropic organization that connects donors and grant money to worthy causes that fight poverty. He's used to working with others to build consensus.
This time, Lurie must build fast. The deadline for submitting his committee's bid package to the NFL is May 7. Team owners will meet May 21 in Boston and hear 15-minute presentations from
There will be multiple winners. San Francisco is bidding for either Super Bowl L (the 50th anniversary game in February 2016) or Super Bowl LI (the following year). But for logistical reasons involving other scheduled events in 2017, Miami/South Florida is seeking to land only Super Bowl L. Houston is bidding merely on Super Bowl LI.
The election is difficult to handicap. But owners usually find a way to reward franchises who build new stadiums. And the 49ers, with team president Gideon Yu on the bid committee, have been talking up the bid with the right league people behind the scenes.
They definitely come at a price. The NFL asks bid cities to raise money and pay for much of the event staging. It also seeks certain tax breaks in the actual host municipality -- in this case, Santa Clara. Indianapolis spent $25 million to land the game. Dallas forked over $38 million two years ago. The return on investment, though, runs into nine figures.
Thus, Lurie and his committee are busy soliciting their own funds, with the idea of making sure Santa Clara is made whole at the end of the day.
"We're trying to offset as many costs as possible," Lurie said.
"But I'm trying to be coy about how much we hope to raise, because we don't want to tip our hand to the competition."
Jamie Matthews, Santa Clara's mayor, is not in New Orleans because his city's ethics policy forbids expense-paid junkets -- and Matthews decided not to pay $850 or $950 for a game ticket. But he said by phone from his office that he's squarely on board with Lurie's effort.
"I think it's nearly impossible to beat us if we're all working together," Matthews said. "And I'm very pleased with the relationship I have with Mayor Lee and his people."
Matthews also intends to organize a summit of South Bay and Peninsula mayors, along with top business people, to discuss the Super Bowl bid plan with Lurie. That will probably happen in late February.
Lurie, meanwhile, will keep soaking up the sights here this weekend, paying particular attention to the charitable activities surrounding the game that are close to his heart.
"I didn't take this just to throw one big party," Lurie said. "We want ours to be the most philanthropic Super Bowl ever and benefit the community as much as possible."
If that includes clown statues, he's down with it.