Hey, guess what? NRG Stadium is outdated. No sane person thinks this, but that’s what the Houston Chronicle essentially said in a front-page story on Super Bowl Sunday. Saying the facility, opened in 2002, is facing a midlife crisis, the Chronicle set out to tell the sob story of NRG Stadium while telling all readers that the city of Houston will find itself on the outside looking in at all the cool kids unless something is done.
The story even goes so far as to imply that the city will lose the Texans, just like St. Louis just lost the Rams. The Rams' stadium was only about 20 years old, but it was deemed outdated and didn’t measure up to the standards of the NFL. The Chron even goes so far as to quote a former NFL exec who says that the pressure will be on to keep NRG updated in order for the team to remain competitive.
“If you think you’re not going to put money into a stadium for 30 years after you build one, you’re wrong,” Jim Steeg, the former NFL exec, told the Chronicle. And he’s kind of right on that because it seems like every year, Bob McNair is begging the taxpayers for stadium upgrades.
The story talks about how hard it’s going to be for Houston to get another Super Bowl because of the new stadiums being built in Minnesota, Atlanta and Los Angeles. This is on top of the new stadiums built after NRG Stadium was opened. Those being the NFL palaces in New Jersey, Santa Clara, Arlington, Glendale, Detroit and Indianapolis. These are all great pleasure palaces that dwarf NRG Stadium, and the new stadiums in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles will, according to the Chron, each get two Super Bowls in the next two decades, making it that much harder for Houston to get even one more.
This is all unsupported by facts, of course. It’s just meaningless conjecture offered up to support Bob McNair’s plea, sure to come in 2017 or 2018, for a new stadium that allows him to compete with the rest of the NFL. A new stadium is, of course, not needed for the team to be competitive; otherwise, Green Bay would never win anything. It’s just a way of saying that a team owner needs a new stadium to increase the value of the franchise for when it comes to selling the team.
As for getting Super Bowls if NRG Stadium is not further modernized — it’s estimated that another 50 million dollars will be wasted on the thing between now and next February’s Super Bowl — there’s no evidence of that. The NFL uses the Super Bowl as a negotiating tactic (build or radically upgrade a stadium, and get a Super Bowl), but the NFL sure as hell hasn’t gone back to Detroit after that one game at Ford Field. And who really thinks the NFL is all that eager to return to Indianapolis? Who really thinks the NFL is going to hold multiple Super Bowls in a new Minneapolis stadium?
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Here’s the other thing the NFL does with Super Bowls: It puts them in high-profile tourist cities because it wants to give its rich fans, sponsors and advertisers a place to party. Will Los Angeles get multiple Super Bowls when that new stadium is completed? Hell, yes, it will. Because it’s Los Angeles. There used to be a Super Bowl in the L.A. area every three to four years until the Rams and Raiders left. And if you’re a tourist with cash to spend, would you rather spend it on Bourbon Street or down on South Beach, or would you want to freeze your ass for the third time in six years because the NFL keeps returning the game to Minneapolis?
So Houston has the next Super Bowl, then Minnesota and its new stadium get the 2018 Super Bowl. The finalists for 2019 and 2020? Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami and Tampa Bay. That’s three winter tourist destinations and Atlanta, which should have finally finished building that money-sucker of a new stadium that’s seemingly been under construction for the better part of a decade.
Let’s face it: Houston is not a tourist destination. It’s just never going to be able to compete with Los Angeles or New Orleans when it comes to the Super Bowl. That is, unless the city builds a brand-new billion-dollar pleasure palace for Bob McNair, and there’s no way Houstonians are stupid enough to do that. Right?