Last week, the NFL announced San Francisco and Houston as the next two Super Bowl sites. In the process, commissioner Roger Goodell shed some light on what goes into selecting the host city for the week-long event. The stadium is the first draw, and as we have seen, new stadiums have translated into Super Bowl bids even in cold weather New York City.
When trying to determine if Buffalo could fit in the Super Bowl conversation, the first assumption - which isn't an easy one to make - is that a high-quality facility will be built at the end of the team's current stadium lease. If that were to happen with the next owner and the next lease, the next biggest hurdle would be hotel rooms.
"It is more than just a game now," said Goodell from the owners' meetings in Boston last week. "I keep emphasizing that. This is a week-long event. We have multiple events that need multiple facilities. We are at [a need for] well over 25,000 hotel rooms now."
Initially, we thought that number was unattainable. I had written off a Buffalo Super Bowl for that reason alone, since Goodell himself had mentioned it in a press conference in October of 2011. As I continued to dig, though, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that the region could support that particular need.
According to figures from Buffalo Rising, Erie County had just 9000 hotel rooms in 2012. The biggest tourist attraction in the area isn't in Erie County, though, and Niagara Falls is close enough to count in any Super Bowl bid Buffalo could conceivably make.
Take the San Francisco bid, for example. They will use that city to host most of the major events for the week leading up to the big game, but the game itself will be in Santa Clara, 45 minutes from downtown San Fran. San Jose also played a role in the bid, and Napa Valley was part of the presentation, as well - yet it's an hour and 20 minutes from the stadium. Compare that to Buffalo, and you can include Niagara Falls and Rochester as housing options, as well as the Finger Lakes region for wine and culture.
Niagara Falls has hotel rooms coming out of its ears. There are 16,000 on the Canadian side alone, according to the Niagara Falls tourism board. I thought the number was so astronomically high, I even called and confirmed it. Niagara County has another 4,000, per their tourism board. Within an hour of the current stadium, Buffalo has 29,000 hotel rooms. Add to that the 7,000 Monroe County has, according to the folks at VisitRochester.com, and the conversation isn't so laughable anymore with more than 36,000 hotel rooms within a little over an hour of the existing stadium site.
After all that math, I still think the stigma of Buffalo's snow and the cold would push the needle away from Western New York. Even with a new stadium, overcoming that prevailing thought throughout the NFL community would be the biggest hurdle. We would hear grumbling from the national commentators, to be sure, but Minnesota and Detroit have successfully hosted the game despite their reputations.
Of course, just because we have enough rooms doesn't mean we have good enough rooms. Just ask Tom Brady.