Make no mistake about it: despite all of the talk, positive and negative about Jacksonville hosting the Super Bowl, there are only 32 opinions that count, those of the NFL owners. They vote on where to put the game, they decide what kind of business deal it needs to be and they decide if a city can handle it. Not the sportwriters, not the broadcasters and not the fans. It’s the owners.
So at least one of them, Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver is confident the game will return. “I had a conversation with Commissioner Tagliabue in my suite mid-way during the game. He was very pleased with the execution of the Super Bowl activities, the events. Clearly Jim Steeg and the NFL events people did a superb job. So, as I said, with few exceptions we have very little that we would differently. I can tell you, I can find very few things to find any fault with.”
Weaver is convinced the Super Bowl will have a long time residual effect on the city. The Jaguars owner has been a big proponent of downtown Jacksonville for a while, and it has been rumored that he’s tried to broker a deal to bring another luxury hotel to the Northbank. He knows downtown needs another hotel.
“Clearly we do. As you look at the RFPs on the Southside Generating Plant, one of the things that struck me as I walked through the NFL Experience and looked at that site, I’m just thinking ‘Wow, some CEO is going to walk through here and say what a great site.’ It’s so big so it could be multi-used, hotel, condos, office. It’s a 44-acre site there. I think there is still room on our southbank and the shipyard property that we could have a small 150-, 250-room luxury hotel. All of those things are going take place over the next ten years. I’m confident of that.”
So I asked him if that was a project he’d be willing to take on.
“I clearly have a big vision for our downtown and I think the exposure that we’re getting, that we got this past week, is going to allow us, and shame on us if we don’t have a big enough vision and a strategy to go out and make sure those kind of things happen because the key to our downtown is our riverfront on the north and south bank and how well we develop that over the next several years.”
Nice answer. Not exactly answering the question, not saying yes and not saying no.
(how confident are you that Jacksonville will be awarded another Super Bowl?)
“I think that we do have an opportunity to get another Super Bowl. As I explained last week in a press conference, the NFL is using it more as a business model today, but I would think 2011, 2012 would be a realistic time to think that we might get in a rotation to host another Super Bowl.”
(can you base that on comments you received from Commissioner Tagliabue and other owners or is that your optimism?)
“I think it’s pure optimism on my part, but I certainly think my optimism is based on what all the owners said to me. It was a majority that were here sometime during the latter part of the week and they were all very complimentary on the execution of Super Bowl here in Jacksonville.”