2020 Super Bowl awarded to Miami, will be 11th Super Bowl in South Florida

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Ross’ half-billion dollar gamble hit the jackpot.

Dolphins fans are cheering Tuesday thanks to the 20XX Super Bowl being awarded to Miami by the NFL. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins fans are cheering Tuesday thanks to the 2020 Super Bowl being awarded to Miami by the NFL. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

The NFL opted Tuesday to award the 2020 Super Bowl to Miami, returning the title game to South Florida for the first time since 2010.

And it’s not just any Super Bowl — the game will come on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the NFL, an occasion that local organizers plan to use as a key theme to Super Bowl week.

It also marks the 11th Super Bowl in South Florida — breaking a tie with New Orleans for the most times hosting the event.

(RELATED: Ranking each of the previous Miami Super Bowls)

Atlanta and Los Angeles were awarded the 2019 and 2021 Super Bowls, respectively.

Though expected, the 2020 announcement was greeted by cheers in a small meeting room by Dolphins officials and members of the South Florida Bid Committee in the posh Ballantyne Hotel, where just across the hallway, a majority of the 32 NFL owners gave their blessing to South Florida following a pitch by Dolphins legend Larry Csonka, who talked at length about the money Ross is spending on renovating the Dolphins’ stadium.

(GALLERY: Sun Life Stadium renovations)

“Thank you, NFL, for having 2020 vision!” said Nicki Grossman, Broward County’s tourism chief and a longtime committee member who is retiring next month.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross unveils plans for Sun Life Stadium renovations and construction deadlines at a press conference at Sun Life Stadium on January 16, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross unveils plans for Sun Life Stadium renovations and construction deadlines at a press conference at Sun Life Stadium on January 16, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

In a few years, officials will joyously shut down parts of Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, turning it into a “Super Bowl city” with week-long activities for ticket-holders and non-ticket-holders alike. Events will be planned throughout South Florida, from South Beach to Fort Lauderdale Beach to Palm Beach.

While Csonka pushed Miami over the goal line — like his days as a Hall of Fame fullback on the Dolphins’ championship teams — it was Ross’ checkbook that put Miami within striking range.

The NFL had made it clear that without renovations to the then-named Sun Life Stadium, Miami not only lost its spot in the Super Bowl rotation, it wouldn’t get any Super Bowls, period. After protracted legal and political wrangling over tax money, Ross opened his wallet and paid for the upgrades himself.

At first, the renovations carried a $350 million price tag, but the latest estimates, which might be conservative, have the cost at $450 million. Rain spoiled the 2007 game in Miami (Bears-Colts), so Ross is installing a canopy over the seating areas, which is the most significant upgrade. He also installed all-new seats, is upgrading the suites and installing new video replay boards in all four corners of the stadium.

Csonka said once that work is complete, the Dolphins’ home will be on par with any stadium in the NFL. Therefore, he said, “Why not?” put a Super Bowl in Miami.

(RELATED: Long time between Super Bowl visits for South Florida)

The South Florida Bid Committee, headed by Rodney Barreto, arrived in Charlotte optimistic. They’d been disappointed before — the next two Super Bowls will be in Houston and Minneapolis — but, privately, they knew they had their strongest case in ages. In his Coral Gables office, Barreto proudly kept a massive, 526-page proposal in a binder that outlined the ways South Florida had checked off every requirement the NFL wanted from contending cities.

Sun Life Stadium renovations are nearing completion of Phase 1 in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 27, 2015. For the 2016 season, a canopy will cover the seating areas. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Sun Life Stadium renovations are nearing completion of Phase 1 in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 27, 2015. For the 2016 season, a canopy will cover the seating areas. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The seeds were planted three years ago almost to the date, when owners met in Boston and awarded the 50th Super Bowl to the San Francisco Bay Area and the upcoming season’s title game to Houston. But it was the way Miami was rebuffed — the votes were via rare super-majorities, meaning Miami hadn’t even gotten nine votes each time. Plus, the defeats came inside a 10-minute span. Owners clearly didn’t need time to think about it. Then-Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, “It sends a clear message that we weren’t in the hunt. There’s no other conclusion to draw.”

It was especially crushing to Ross, who is now 76.

“I really wanted to see it and I wanted it to be my legacy,” Ross said at the time.

Ross can now set the bar on his legacy a bit higher: hoping his Dolphins actually get to host the championship game in their own stadium.

Wonder what NFL of the future will look like? Here’s a preview

Picture a gizmo that blurs the gap between watching a game in a stadium and watching at home on a large, 4K flat screen.

BrainScope employee Doug Oberly wears a brain scanning headset at the NFL owners' meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The headset and mobile app can quickly and easily allow clinicians to determine whether patients have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the company says. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
BrainScope employee Doug Oberly wears a brain scanning headset at the NFL owners’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The headset and mobile app can quickly and easily allow clinicians to determine whether patients have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the company says. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

That’s one image of the NFL of the future, and if you wonder what else could be coming, try a thingamajig that tracks where your eyes are glued during a game and what bores you. Safer helmets. Softer artificial turf. Technology that takes social media to an even higher level. Sideline coaching tools that make the old Polaroid days seem ancient.

All this has been on display during the NFL’s annual meetings at the Boca Raton Resort, where owners, general managers and coaches were encouraged to test-drive the latest innovations at the “20/20 Tech Lab.”

Whether you’re a coach, player, owner or fan, chances are there’s something soon to be available to pique your interest.

Come preview the NFL of the future:

Virtual reality

You probably think watching a game on a 60-inch 4K is pretty close to being there.

Someday, you may rethink that.

There’s no telling where these experiments will go, but the working model means planting cameras throughout stadiums, then allowing fans to slip on a VR headset and headphones for a 3-D, 360-degree experience.

There are bugs to work out, but during my demonstration, it was tempting to reach out to catch a ball actually thrown to Ryan Tannehill during warmups. Ryan was standing right next to me — or so it seemed as I started to think about which plays to suggest to Ryan.

Once, a ref called a penalty, then nearly backed into me. Luckily, it wasn’t Ed “Guns” Hochuli.


Sideline of the future

Erase all memories you have of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady flipping through a stack of Polaroids on the sideline, or even examining still shots on tablets.

Microsoft (“Don’t call our stuff iPads!”) is pushing the Sideline Viewing System, meaning someday, players and coaches can review multiple angles of videos of plays immediately after each play ends. Coaches had some reservations over the implementation of such technology for 2016, but it seems like a strong possibility for 2017 and beyond.

(Sadly, Microsoft can’t come up with a program to show those plays before they’re run, which would have negated an awful lot of the Dolphins’ plays in 2015.)


Fan engagement research

The NFL wants to know all about what you like and don’t like about its product.

MediaScience’s eye-tracking device collects data on where fans focus their most vivid attention (big plays? cheerleaders?) and what bores the heck out of them (officials’ conferences?).

Stunning: Spot use of the technology has revealed that younger fans don’t have much use for talking heads during games. They want all-action, all the time.


Brainscope's device measures impulses to help determine if a concussion has occurred. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)
Brainscope’s device measures impulses to help determine if a concussion has occurred. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)

Is it a concussion?

Brainscope is working on a device that attaches sensors to the head and sends impulses through the brain to help objectively determine whether a player has a concussion.

The company, working with the Purdue Neurotrauma Group, says it began developing the device with soldiers who have potentially suffered traumatic brain injury, so the uses extend beyond football.

Potential drawback: The technology appears most effective if used in conjunction with baseline testing to determine how each brain works under normal conditions vs. post-impact. For those without a baseline comparison available, the company compares data to what it says is a “normal” brain, which might raise doubt among some in the medical community.


Getting very social

HYP3R says users post 10 times more stuff on social media at live sporting events than they otherwise would.

So if you’re following a certain person on Twitter (say, @gunnerhal), you see my tweets. Likewise if you’re following someone on Instagram or searching via hashtags.

HYP3R cuts through all that by lassoing social media posts by location. In other words, if you plant something on a public post from inside Sun Life Stadium, this app will find it for you.

Now imagine you’re ticket manager for an NFL team. Kinda think this info might help target future fans?


WPEC-Channel 12's Matt Lincoln (left) gets a demonstration on Vicis' helmet from John Congemi. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)
WPEC-Channel 12’s Matt Lincoln (left) gets a demonstration on Vicis’ helmet from John Congemi. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)

A better helmet?

No helmet — ever — will eliminate concussions.

Let’s get that fact out of the way. Despite any claims you may have read, your brain is basically floating inside your skull. Given the G forces that occur with significant impact, your brain can rattle around your head. While top-notch helmets help cushion the blow, it’s physically impossible to trick your brain into carrying on as if the blow never occurred.

The University of Washington and Seattle-based Vicis Inc. say their new helmets disperse and absorb that force to minimize brain damage. It has slow-mo videos comparing impact of a conventional helmet vs. their own.

John Congemi, an analyst on the Finsiders and spokesman for Vicis who has been in discussions with several NFL teams, knows that safety is paramount, but it alone won’t get the product on an NFL field in 2016.

“We start with the premise that we want this to feel like a football helmet,” said Congemi, who succeeded Dan Marino as quarterback at Pitt. “We want guys to want to wear it.”

(P.S.: Never underestimate the power of comfort and vanity.)


Softer turf?

Viconic Inc., based in Detroit, wants players to hate artificial surfaces less.

The firm has developed an under-layer to make those surfaces not feel as if players are landing on concrete.

Borrowing from the auto industry’s crash-testing procedures, Viconic says one football hit it tested created impact with the turf resulting in 198 Gs of force and a “head-injury” criteria of 1,084. The same hit, using its product, rated at 111 Gs and 490.

Vote: Should these Miami Dolphins stay or should they go in 2016?

Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26), runs over New York Giants free safety Landon Collins (21), on second quarter action for his second touchdown of the first half during NFL game Monday December 14, 2015 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26), runs over New York Giants free safety Landon Collins (21), on second quarter action for his second touchdown of the first half during NFL game Monday December 14, 2015 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Now that the Dolphins have their coach in place, it’s time to start building a roster.

Miami has major decisions to make with impending free agents and players who might be too costly to keep.

It’s impossible to know exactly who will stay or go — even the Dolphins’ top bosses don’t know yet.

They’ll spend the next two months preparing all the different scenarios before free agency officially begins March 15.

I’ve taken a look at every Dolphins player who ended the season on the 53-man roster, injured reserve or suspension list, with the exception of tackle Jason Fox, who has already been released.

Using an educated guess, here’s my early predictions of who will stay or go.

But we want you to vote on whether they’ll stay or go, too! To make the voting easier, we’ve broken the players down into six categories:

QB/RB/WR | TE/OL | DL | LB | DB | Specialists