Projecting future Super Bowl sites is simple as long as taxpayer-funded stadiums continue popping up around the country. The NFL has awarded the next five games, and four of them -- in Minnesota, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles -- will be played in new or fully renovated facilities.
But what will happen when the current stadium boom subsides? There are only two franchises remaining with pressing stadium questions, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. The Washington Redskins are exploring replacement options for FedEx Field, but their lease runs until 2027 and a move could be more than a decade away.
(We'll save for another day the question of whether an open-air stadium in a colder climate is a guaranteed lock for the Super Bowl. In 2014, the NFL missed a blizzard by one day after staging Super Bowl XLVIII in New York.)
It's in the NFL's best interest to keep all options open and future specifics vague, but we can still play a little game of educated guessing. At this quiet time in the calendar, let's take a moment to project where the next six Super Bowls, to be played between 2022 and 2027, could perhaps, possibly and/or maybe be played.
SUPER BOWL LVI
Projected site: New Orleans
Comment: In recent bidding, one of the country's greatest party cities has lost out twice to new stadiums, a decidedly stacked deck. The Superdome will be 47 years old by 2022, and it will be hard to erase the memory of the 2013 blackout at Super Bowl XLVII. But the building has undergone nearly $400 million in renovations since enduring Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and it seems only a matter of time before the game returns here.
SUPER BOWL LVII
Projected site: Tampa
Comment: Like New Orleans, Tampa was a finalist in the most recent Super Bowl bidding process. Consider it a strong signal that owners are interested in returning to the warm shores of west Florida. Raymond James Stadium, which opened in 1998 and has hosted two Super Bowls already, will undergo more than $100 million in renovations over the next few years. It's also worth watching nearby Orlando, which spent $200 million to renovate the Citrus Bowl and has already lured the NFL into moving the Pro Bowl there.
SUPER BOWL LVIII
Projected site: San Diego
Comment: This projection makes a big assumption: That San Diego soon will resolve a stadium issue that has percolated for more than a decade. The Chargers have in place a relatively firm deadline, having signed a lease to play in Los Angeles in 2017 if current negotiations fail in San Diego, and that could spur movement this fall. (The agreement can be deferred to 2018 if progress is made without a solution.) The NFL clearly wants the Chargers to stay. Litigation could slow groundbreaking, even if a stadium is approved, so this is probably the earliest the Super Bowl would be awarded.
SUPER BOWL LIX
Projected site: Las Vegas
Comment: Wouldn't this be something? A city that NFL owners would have turned their noses up at just a few years ago hosting the country's greatest sports spectacle! Let's just say that a Super Bowl in Las Vegas would be unique. It would happen if the Oakland Raiders, who have made no progress on a new stadium and have been blocked (for now) from moving to Los Angeles, instead pack up for Vegas. Already, the Raiders have announced the framework of a $1.3 billion stadium that would be located near the famous Vegas strip. But its corporate viability as the nation's No. 29 market remains in question. It might seem unlikely, but it's too fun of a possibility to not consider on this list. (This is also where a Super Bowl in a presumed Oakland stadium would go, but, uh, yeah.)
SUPER BOWL LX
Projected site: Los Angeles
Comment: We should prepare for the likelihood of multiple, and even regular, Super Bowls in Los Angeles. Stan Kroenke's Inglewood complex was designed with the idea of hosting not only Super Bowls, but Pro Bowls, the draft and any other major events the NFL concocts. By this point in our scenario, the NFL would have satisfied all new stadium obligations and could move into a rotation of ideal/traditional settings. We slotted it here to give Los Angeles a nice round number. (It would be 60, for those who need Roman numeral translations.)
SUPER BOWL LXI
Projected site: Dallas
Comment: Rest assured that the NFL will stage another Super Bowl in Jerry Jones' football palace, AT&T Stadium. It's just a matter of when, and it could be earlier than 2027. The world didn't really get the full Dallas/Fort Worth experience in 2011, when many Super Bowl XLV activities were snowed out or iced in by once-in-a-generation January weather. Odds are it'll be nicer this go-around.