New Orleans will have to wait at least a few more years to host the Super Bowl again.
For the second time in three years, the Big Easy fell short in its bid to host the NFL’s biggest game. Unlike two years ago, it wasn’t much of a shock this time.
NFL owners voted at Tuesday’s owners meeting to give the 2019 Super Bowl to Atlanta.
“We’re disappointed but not surprised,” said Doug Thornton, executive vice president of SMG, which manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “We knew it was an uphill battle coming into it. We did everything we could do.”
Thornton and Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, made a 15-minute sales pitch on behalf of the city before the owners voted in Charlotte, North Carolina.
New Orleans was one of four cities (joining Atlanta, Miami and Tampa) that bid for Super Bowl LIII. Miami and Tampa were eliminated after the first two rounds of voting. Then, neither New Orleans nor Atlanta got a super majority of the votes (24 of 32), so it went to a simple majority.
“We really thought we had a shot at that point,” Thornton said.
But the final vote went to Atlanta. The NFL doesn’t announce vote totals, but Thornton said he was pleased to see it come down to a fourth vote after New Orleans entered the day as an underdog.
“For it to come to a fourth vote says a lot about the city, our proposal and the way the owners feel about (Saints owner) Tom Benson,” Thornton said. “If there is any silver lining, that’s it. We were in it right until the wire.”
It would have been the 11th Super Bowl for New Orleans, which last hosted the NFL’s biggest showcase in 2013. Instead, it will be Atlanta’s third Super Bowl — but the first in its new $1.4 billion stadium, to be known as Mercedes-Benz Stadium, that opens in 2017.
All three cities awarded Super Bowls on Tuesday — Miami won the 2020 game, and Los Angeles will host in 2021 — are cities that will boast renovated or new stadia. Two years ago, New Orleans finished second to Minneapolis to host the 2018 Super Bowl. Minneapolis will open its new stadium this fall.
“It shows that the communities and the owners who are willing to make these investments and stick their necks out, if you will, that it is worthwhile and they believe in the long term,” Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke said.
Los Angeles, which moved from St. Louis this offseason, will open its new stadium in 2019. Last season’s Super Bowl was played in Santa Clara, California, after the 49ers built a new stadium. New York/New Jersey, Indianapolis, Dallas and Detroit all received bids in the recent past after erecting a new stadium.
“You have to believe this trend is going to continue,” Thornton said. “But we can’t control that. The Superdome is still a great stadium. We didn’t lose this today because of the Superdome. I think we lost this today because of the competition and the date patterns didn’t line up for us.”
New Orleans was only able to bid on one of the three Super Bowls awarded at Tuesday’s meetings. The 2020 game conflicts with the College Football Playoff championship game, which New Orleans will host. Thanks to the quick turnaround from the college game, set for mid-January, and the Super Bowl in early February, the NFL doesn’t allow cities to host both events in the same year.
The 2021 Super Bowl conflicts with Mardi Gras and a convention in the city.
“We knew the stars were not aligned for us,” Thornton said. “It was just a difficult timing situation for New Orleans. It was not about anything we had done or not done.”
The next Super Bowl possibility for New Orleans is 2022, which would be a nine-year gap. The longest drought for the city is 2003-12.
“We are always going to take a shot at it,” Thornton said.
New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls. When Miami welcomes the game in 2020, that will be its 11th Super Bowl. Miami last hosted in 2010, when the Saints beat Indianapolis 31-17 for their lone Super Bowl crown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report