The Super Bowl could be coming back to Silicon Valley after a three-decade absence, as NFL owners on Tuesday named the 49ers' new Santa Clara stadium as a finalist for the country's biggest sporting event.
And it's not just any game: The Bay Area will battle the Miami area to host Super Bowl 50 in 2016, an extravaganza packed with extra pageantry for the league's golden anniversary game. Whoever loses out gets another shot to bid against Houston for Super Bowl 51 in 2017.
The winners will be picked in May.
Hosting the Super Bowl would bring hordes of visitors to the South Bay, hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue and serious prestige to a region known for tech companies, not prime-time events.
"Nothing brings a region together like a Super Bowl," said 49ers CEO Jed York. "Now we have to work together to show the new stadium in Santa Clara will put on a great show."
The 49ers have star power behind the effort, naming Charles Schwab, Condoleezza Rice, Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs and a who's-who of business leaders to their Super Bowl Bid Committee.
Let the competition begin.
"It's a shame that we lack Houston's or Miami's 100 percent humidity levels, but we'll have to settle for 76 degrees," said committee member Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "We certainly have the hotel and transportation capacity and a stadium that will be second-to-none both in terms of its physical beauty and technological prowess."
The league's Super Bowl Advisory Committee picked the short list of contenders on Monday, and the owners selected the three candidates at their meeting in Chicago on Tuesday.
This is the first Super Bowl bid process for the $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium, which the 49ers broke ground on in April and plan to open for the 2014 season. The NFL has already awarded the next three Super Bowls to the home fields of the New Orleans Saints (on Feb. 3), the New York Giants and Jets (February 2014) and the Arizona Cardinals (2015).
"It's been a long time coming, and it's absolutely awesome," said Santa Clara Councilman Kevin Moore. "We've been dreaming about this for years. We're going to knock it out of the park."
It would be the Bay Area's second time hosting the Super Bowl. The first was at Stanford Stadium in 1985, when the 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX. California, which has three of the oldest stadiums in the NFL, last hosted the big game in 2003 in San Diego.
"We've been working for a long time to get a new stadium built in California," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference.
The Niners submitted their preliminary plan to the NFL in August along with other teams interested in hosting Super Bowls L and LI.
Even though the 49ers are leaving San Francisco, the City by the Bay would still act as the Super Bowl host city and could choose to host many of the related events while the actual game will be played at the Santa Clara stadium. More details on plans for the entire festivities were expected Thursday.
The 49ers had agreed in May to partner with San Francisco on the bid in a deal to escape the team's Candlestick Park lease with the city a year early. The team, which will continue to be called the San Francisco 49ers after moving to the South Bay, also wanted to show some love to its historic host city.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee named philanthropist Daniel Lurie to lead the Super Bowl Bid Committee, which will deliver its plan to the NFL on May 7 and present it to the league's 32 owners on May 21 in Boston.
The 17-member bid committee also includes former San Francisco mayor and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Visa CEO Joe Saunders, 49ers president and former Facebook executive Gideon Yu and former San Francisco Giants President Pat Gallagher.
No one from Santa Clara is on the committee, but the city is coordinating plans with San Francisco. There's no hard feelings from the South Bay, which is known for having a friendly rivalry with San Francisco on the 49ers and other issues.
"We will be able to showcase all the great things we have from the Golden Gate to Silicon Valley," said Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews. And San Francisco, he said, "definitely knows how to throw a big party."
Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/rosenberg17.
2013: Super Bowl XLVII (47) in New Orleans
2014: Super Bowl XLVIII (48) in East Rutherford, N.J.
2015: Super Bowl XLIX (49) in Glendale, Ariz.
2016: Super Bowl L (50); finalist sites are Santa Clara and Miami area
2017: Super Bowl LI (51); finalist sites are Houston and the loser between Santa Clara/Miami