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NFL awards Super Bowl L to San Francisco, Super Bowl LI to Houston

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Super Bowl L will be held in the Bay Area (USA Today Sports Images)

NFL owners voted on Tuesday to award Super Bowl L to the San Francisco/Bay Area and Super Bowl LI to Houston, Texas.

The Bay Area last hosted a Super Bowl in 1985 and was considered the heavy favorite to receive the historic 50th Super Bowl as construction is well underway on a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara, 44 miles south of San Francisco. NFL owners had to decide between the Bay Area bid and one from Miami, which has played host to ten Super Bowls.

The bid from the Miami group was considered a long shot for Super Bowl L after the Florida state Legislature failed to vote on a bill that would have provided funding for much-needed renovations to Sun Life Stadium. As the losing bid on Super Bowl L, Miami also bid for Super Bowl LI, but the same stadium issues that doomed the bid for Super Bowl L sunk their hopes of beating out Houston for Super Bowl LI.

Houston has hosted two Super Bowls previously, the most recent being Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots in 2004.

"Congratulations to San Francisco and Houston on Super Bowl L and LI," Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement released by the team. "However, we don't think there's a better place in the country to host Super Bowl than right here in South Florida. I am grateful for the hard work and creative energy that the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee showed in their bid.

"Today’s decision doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm to pursue Super Bowls in the future, since we are steadfast in our belief that those games are good for the South Florida community."

Both San Francisco and Houston were awarded Super Bowls on the first ballot, which means their bids received a "super majority", i.e. 24 of the 32 votes, over the competing bid from Miami. If a new stadium does not materialize in South Florida, or if major improvements are not made to Sun Life Stadium, it might be very long time before the Super Bowl returns to the Miami area.

Next year's Super Bowl will take place at MetLife Stadium, an open-air facility outside of New York City. If that game is a success, other cold-weather cities with outdoor venues could be viewed as possible host cities for future Super Bowls. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the more powerful owners in the league, will be keeping a keen eye on the New York/New Jersey game.

"We would love one day to hold it here if it's a good experience there," Kraft said from Tuesday's meeting in Boston, via Mike Rodak of ESPN Boston. "We're looking forward to seeing this experience in New York and New Jersey.

"It would be great. I sort of like Boston/Providence (as a regional site for the event). This is where it all started. Right here."

If cold weather cities do get the green light to bid on Super Bowls, cities with open-air stadiums like Boston/Providence, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Green Bay, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Denver and Seattle will enter the bidding process. Atlanta and Minneapolis are currently building new indoor stadiums and will certainly look to host a Super Bowl once those venues are completed. As the NFL looks to grow the game overseas, London could join the competition to host future Super Bowls, as could Los Angeles, if the league ever re-enters that huge market.

Dallas and Indianapolis showed in recent years that they're fully capable of hosting a Super Bowl and could join the rotation of cities —  Glendale, Arizona (who will host a fourth Super Bowl in 2015), Tampa (four Super Bowls) and New Orleans (ten Super Bowls) — to host the league's biggest event. Miami and San Diego (which has hosted three Super Bowls) both belong in that rotation, but both will continue to be shut out until they resolve their stadium issues.

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