When the NFL played an outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city for the first time last weekend, did the location increase the viability of the big game being played in the future in Music City?
The Super Bowl cities already have been determined for the next few years, with Glendale, Ariz., hosting the big game in 2015, followed by Santa Clara, Calif., in 2016 and Houston in 2017. Three cities with domed stadiums -- New Orleans, Minneapolis and Indianapolis -- are the finalists for 2018.
It's up for grabs after that, as long as a city can guarantee it will meet the NFL's list of Super Bowl specifications, ranging from hotel rooms to venue space to average local temperature and much more.
At this point, Music City probably wouldn't rank near the top of the NFL pecking order if it were to place a Super Bowl bid, for at least a few reasons:
* The lack of a new stadium, which the league seems to favor.
* The lack of a mass transit system.
* The city's comparatively small infrastructure, which could become a factor when hosting the NFL's lead-up events to the game.
Titans Executive Vice President Don MacLachlan said the many benefits of serving as a host city for the Super Bowl would make it worthwhile to consider a bid. He said the Titans would work with the mayor's office and the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp if it decided to go that route.
Those financial benefits are tempting. An economic impact study completed by Rockport Analytics following the 2012 Super Bowl concluded that the Indianapolis metro area experienced a significant economic boost as a result of 10 days of visitor activity -- total gross expenditures of $384 million, with a direct economic impact of $176 million.
"It would be great to host a Super Bowl for LP Field, for the city of Nashville and for what it would mean economically as well as for the visibility and everything that goes with the Super Bowl," MacLachlan said.
"However, we know there's a lot of specifications that have to be met in the bid process as well. We've always discussed things with (CVC President Butch Spyridon) that could have a huge impact on Nashville, and nothing would have a bigger impact than the Super Bowl and everything that goes with it. So I'm sure we'll talk with Butch, (Mayor Karl Dean) and the league in the relatively near future, and then you just have to see how realistic your chances are."
Dean also took a cautious tack regarding the Super Bowl ever coming to Nashville.
"Nashville is on track to being able to handle such an event in upcoming years," Dean said in a statement. "Hotel development and transit alternatives are areas we would need to see continued progress."
NFL open to nontraditional sites
In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, which was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seemed to open the door to the league returning to nontraditional sites in the future.
The NFL generally requires that a host city have an average temperature of 50 degrees in early February or a domed stadium, but ownership can waive that stipulation if it so chooses.
"I believe we need to get to as many communities as possible, and give them a chance to share not only in the emotional benefits, but the economic benefits," Goodell said. "It helps the NFL, it helps our fans and it helps grow our game."
It's worth noting, however, that the NFL didn't play the Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey just for the sake of playing outdoors in a cold-weather city. The awarding of the game to that region also served as a financial boon to the New York Giants and Jets, who spent a reported $1.6 billion to build the stadium that opened in 2010.
The NFL has been trending in the direction of rewarding new stadiums with Super Bowls for a while now, as cities like Indianapolis, Dallas, Glendale, Ariz., Detroit and Houston all hosted the big game this decade -- and all within four years of opening.
"I think what you are seeing is NFL owners working with their fellow owners," said Scott Ramsey, president and CEO of Nashville Sports Council. "They're saying, 'If there's this sort of investment from your city -- the public sector and private sector -- then the Super Bowl is kind of something we'll help support it with.'"
It's uncertain if LP Field, which opened in 1999 and lists a seating capacity of just over 69,000 fans, would stand up in comparison with some of the bigger, newer stadiums around the league.
But MacLachlan said that if needed, the Titans could add temporary seating that would increase LP's capacity to about 72,000 -- a figure the NFL appears to favor as a minimum.
The Super Bowl, of course, has become about much more than game day over the years.
It's also a monstrous two-week buildup of hype that involves the influx of thousands of people, which is why the NFL requires 30,000 quality hotel rooms within a 90-minute drive of the stadium.
Davidson County currently has 26,175 hotel rooms, per the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, but the Nashville Metro Statistical Area -- which includes Davidson, Williamson, Cheatham, Dickson, Wilson, Sumner, Rutherford and Robertson counties -- has 37,620 hotel rooms.
Then there are matters like transportation, emergency services and food for the mass of visitors, most of whom would need to be shuttled around the area.
MacLachlan said Super Bowl demands would be similar to what Titans and city executives worked toward a few years ago, when Nashville was in the running to host World Cup soccer games had the competition been awarded to the United State in 2018 or 2022.
"It really equates to the tireless efforts we put in to meet the requirements that the World Cup had in coming to the States and Nashville in particular," MacLachlan said. "We worked together on the whole infrastructure for the city and from transportation to hotels to the facility here, to what we might have to put in the parking lot to build up some other areas, seating, all that different stuff. We walked through all that. So there's something close to a blueprint."
MacLachlan also noted that last year's opening of the Music City Center, with its 1.2 million square feet of meeting space, would be a huge boost in hosting the many events that go on prior to the Super Bowl.
Nashville never has hosted anything on par with the Super Bowl in the past, but Ramsey noted that Music City always has succeeded with smaller-scale events like the SEC basketball tournament, men's and women's NCAA Tournament games, the NHL Draft and the Country Music Marathon.
The women's NCAA Final Four will be played in Nashville this year, the SEC men's and women's basketball tournaments will be played a combined nine times at Bridgestone Arena between 2015 and 2026, and an NHL All-Star game could be here in the not-too-distant future.
It's clear, Ramsey said, that sports fans are enjoying their experiences in Nashville, and that can't be counted out when it comes to the Super Bowl.
"I think people like coming to Nashville, and I think our downtown campus can create energy and excitement around an event as well as anyone in the country," Ramsey said. "I think Indianapolis paralleled that for the Super Bowl (in 2012) a little bit, with its downtown and its real compact kind of plan.
"From the standpoint of staging the event from meeting the requirements for hotels and hospitality and those things -- it would certainly stretch our limits. But I think if we were to host it, we'd do a great job because of how we work together as a city, and because of the entertainment and the really unique brand we have here in Music City. I think it would be a great opportunity."
Reach John Glennon at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @glennonsports.