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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation in a combined effort with Reliant Park has its eye on landing the Super Bowl bid for 2017.
Well they can count on the support of Texans owner Bob McNair – to a point. McNair said following Thursday’s Texans OTA workout that he welcomes the return of the Super Bowl to Houston and Reliant Stadium for the first time since 2004, but it doesn’t sound like he wants to be at the forefront of lobbying the NFL for Super Bowl LI.
McNairs says landing the bid belongs more on the shoulders of city leaders and the public.
“It is, and it requires a lot of effort on a lot of people,” McNair of the difficult process required to to land a Super Bowl. “And it should be the city taking the lead on that, rather than the Texans, so I’m glad to see that they’re doing that.”
It’s not like the city has not tried before but with no success. Since successfully hosting the Super Bowl in 2004, the city has made four additional bids for the NFL’s showcase event only to be turned down. It has seemed a little odd considering this city’s football-rich tradition, the natural fan base, accessibility and near perfect weather for that time of the year.
But McNair says part of the problem could be the city lacks some of the other intangibles like being a tourist destination that make cities like New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix more viable to the NFL.
“Part of it is Houston’s not viewed as a destination city,” he said. “When people start thinking about, ‘Where am I going to go on vacation this year?’ they don’t typically think about Houston, and we need to change that image. That’s part of it.”
Another part of the quandary can be the strength of the host team. That McNair believes he and the Texans can take care of. The Texans are coming off a breakthrough season in which they won the AFC South for the first time and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, even advancing into the second round.
The Texans now enter the 2012 season as serious Super Bowl contenders.
“I think we’ll get another Super Bowl in the future; and frankly, I think the performance of our team enhances our ability to do that because it heightens the public awareness of Houston and the Texans,” said McNair, whose team hosted the Super Bowl in second year in the NFL in 2004. “So I think the better we do, the more favorably people will look upon Houston.”
Interestingly, another thing Harris County and the city can do to enhance its chances of gaining another Super Bowl bid is figure out what to do with the vacated Astrodome, which has become an eyesore sitting next to the state-of-the-art Reliant Stadium.
Harris County released the suggestions of a consultant team this week on what to do with the Astrodome. One recommendation was to spend $385 million to reconfigure the Astrodome into a 10,000-seat arena where soccer games and high school football games could be played. Another recommendation was to turn the Astrodome into a multipurpose facility that would cost approximately $270 million.
Both recommendations seem a little far-fetched but McNair is in agreement that decision must done with the vacated facility. Another train of thought is to just tear down the original Dome but there is such a strong affinity for the Astrodome that saying as much is not always politically correct.
“Certainly, something needs to be done with the Astrodome; it’s just going downhill,” McNair said. “That’s fine, I’m glad that the Commissioners will be looking at it, and if they deem that the right thing to do and they want to submit something to the voters for them to make a determination, that’s fine.”
The main thing is McNair doesn’t want whatever is decided to affect Reliant Stadium. He believes the priority should remain making certain funds are in place for repairs, replacements and improvements at Reliant.
McNair went as far Thursday as to say the funding to take care of what needs to be done isn’t what it should be. McNair says the Commission is putting forth $2.5 million a year to cover repairs and replacements but says that figure should be somewhere between $8 and $9 million.
“It’s not the end of the world trying to figure out how you’re going to do that,” he said, “but it’s just something that needs to be addressed.”