Phoenix area to host its second Super Bowl

CHICAGO -- In the latest example of how important state-of-the art playing facilities are to the NFL, league owners Thursday afternoon awarded Super Bowl XLII for 2008 to the Phoenix area, to be played in a retractable dome stadium.

The stadium, to be built in Glendale, Ariz., is scheduled to open in 2006.

Phoenix defeated Washington, D.C. and Tampa, winning the rights to the title game with a rare first-ballot victory over its competitors. While the head count was not announced, Phoenix captured at least 24 votes, since it requires the approval of three-quarters of the 32 member franchises to win on the first ballot.

The Super Bowl decision came in the final session of a two-day meeting here.

"This is something that we have been working toward for a very long time," said Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill. "Today makes all the hard work that has gone into this bid very much worth the investment. It's very, very gratifying."

The game will be the second Super Bowl contest in the Phoenix area, which also hosted the 1996 game. That was Super Bowl XXX, played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, in which the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Because of the revenues generated by the game, securing the rights to a Super Bowl is seen as a civic coup, and Arizona politicians were not shy in discussing the financial ramifications of landing the contest. It is likely the Phoenix area will realize more than $300 million in overall financial impact.

The fact Phoenix won the bid is significant for other reasons as well.

First, the league has in recent years dangled Super Bowl games as a carrot for those communities considering new facilities for their NFL franchises. Pheonix is merely the latest NFL precinct to benefit from the Super Bowl incentive. Second, the 2008 Super Bowl was the contest pitched by commissioner Paul Tagliabue for one of two "northern tier" sites, New York and Washington.

Because of the improvements required by Giants Stadium to bring the facility up to the Super Bowl requirements, New York and New Jersey opted to delay their bid until the 2009 game. The site selection committee likely won't consider bids for that game until sometime in 2005. The decision by New York/New Jersey to drop out of contention for the 2008 contest left Washington as the lone northern site.

It is unlikely that Washington, despite the positive reception to its presentation, will be able to bid for the 2009 game, since it would conflict with the presidential inauguration and the events surrounding it that year.

While several owners lauded the preparation and politicking of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and the Washington bid was better received than originally believed, clearly the overriding sentiments were with the Phoenix package.

The area helped itself some by bailing out the NFL this week, allowing the San Diego Chargers to move their Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins into Sun Devil Stadium on short notice. In fact, Bidwill and his son, Michael, received a standing ovation from league owners on Wednesday for that gesture.

"Well, it certainly didn't hurt them," said Tagliabue of the hospitality offered by the city of Phoenix and the Cardinals organization for the Monday night contest. "But I think this Super Bowl (bid) ... was not built on Monday night. This was the product of seven years of hard work, and of the Cardinals getting the stadium they have sought ever since they moved to the Phoenix area."

Tagliabue deemed "outstanding" all three Super Bowl candidate presentations. And even Bidwill said he was "overwhelmed" by the quality of the competition for the contest.

The lineup for upcoming Super Bowls is: Houston (2004), Jackonsville (2005), Detroit (2006), Miami (2007) and now Phoenix (2008).

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.