NOLA a finalist for Super Bowl
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
WASHINGTON — The 2018 Super Bowl could be headed back to a recent host city. Or to one that hasn’t staged the game in more than two decades.
New Orleans and Indianapolis, the sites of the past two Super Bowls, and Minneapolis are the three finalists to host the NFL championship game in ‘18.
Those cities were selected from a pool of six at the owners’ meetings Tuesday. Should Lucas Oil Stadium get the game, it would be the first cold-weather stadium to host two Super Bowls.
“It proves that Indianapolis is really a unique city, being a medium-sized market in a colder market, without 80 degrees and beaches,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “I think we have the unique ability in Indianapolis to really deliver a Super Bowl that gets pulled off in a way that’s special.”
New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including last February’s game that was interrupted by a blackout. That apparently didn’t bother the owners during Tuesday’s selection process.
“The Super Bowl is a celebration of unparalleled magnitude. What better time for New Orleans to host its record 11th Super Bowl than during a party 300 years in the making?” Jay Cicero, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation president and CEO, said of the city’s 2018 tri-centennial.
Minneapolis last hosted the title game in January 1992. A $975 million stadium is going to be built in downtown Minneapolis, with the projected opening coming in 2016.
The NFL often rewards a city for building a new stadium with a Super Bowl, as was done in recent years for Detroit, the Phoenix area, the Dallas area, and Indianapolis.
“The Vikings organization and our political leaders in Minnesota fought a long battle, spent more than 12 years to secure the new stadium for the team and the state,” said Lester Bagley the vice president for public affairs and stadium development for the Vikings, “and during that long and contentious debate the Vikings made a commitment to take the lead and advocate with the NFL to host the Super Bowl 2018 in Minneapolis.
“Minnesota stepped up to deliver a great new stadium, and we will push hard to deliver the reward.”
The 2018 Super Bowl will be awarded next May. The next four Super Bowls are in New Jersey, Arizona, Santa Clara, Calif., and Houston.
The NFL will play three regular-season games at London’s Wembley Stadium next year, hosted by the Jaguars, Falcons and Raiders. It will be the most games the league has played abroad in one year. This season was the first one with two games: Minnesota beat Pittsburgh 34-27 in September, and Jacksonville will host San Francisco on Oct. 27 as part of a four-year commitment to move a home game to Wembley.
Dates and opponents for the games will be announced when the schedule is compiled next year.
“Our fans in the UK have continued to demonstrate that they love football and want more,” said Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has championed overseas games for years and someday believes the NFL will have a franchise based in London. “Both of this year’s games in London sold out quickly. The fan enthusiasm for our sport continues to grow. By playing two games in the UK this year, we are creating more fans. We hope that with three games in London next year we will attract even more people to our game.”
Several owners said the subject of changing the Washington Redskins’ nickname was not discussed in any formal way during Tuesday’s sessions. Goodell, who grew up in Washington as a fan of the team, said “by no means” was the name considered derogatory then.
“But whenever you have a situation like this, you have to listen and recognize some people have different perspectives,” Goodell said of protests by American Indian groups about the nickname.
Also, the NFL:
—Approved $27 million in funding for improvements at FedEx Field. The money will be diverted from Washington’s contributions to revenue sharing.
—Approved $62.5 million in funding for the Cleveland Browns’ stadium.
—Announced an agreement between USA Football and three organizations that will endorse the Heads Up Football initiative that already has been approved by more than 2,800 youth football organizations.
The American College of Sports Medicine, National PTA and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association all said they are partnering with USA Football, which oversees youth football in the country.
—Approved a measure that allows the league to choose which team will be the focus of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” documentary-style show if no club volunteers. Exempt would be teams with new coaches, clubs that reached the playoffs in one of the previous two seasons, or those that appeared on “Hard Knocks” within the preceding 10 years.