HOUSTON — If you thought Reliant Stadium was nice, well, you’re right. It’s just not nice enough to host the Super Bowl.
That was the takeaway from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s visit to Houston on Tuesday. Goodell spoke to civic leaders in the city about the possibility of Houston hosting Super Bowl 51 (LI) in 2017, and he said Reliant Stadium would need some minor upgrades.
“You have an outstanding stadium,” Goodell said, according to KHOU-11 TV in Houston. “I know people are looking at how we can improve that stadium, not just for Texans fans but fans that would come to the Super Bowl.”
One of those improvements would be to the scoreboards, Texans owner Bob McNair said. The existing scoreboards in the 10-year-old stadium would be replaced by digital ones, which would cost between $10 million and $30 million. Just who would be paying for that is unclear. Reliant Stadium is not owned by the Texans, but by Harris County.
“I think what we have to do is look at all of our venues and assets and make sure everything is up to snuff,” McNair told KHOU.
Houston, which is competing with Miami and San Francisco, hosted Super Bowl 38 (XXXVIII) in 2004, when the New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29. The city was widely criticized for its gridlock and sprawl.
Houston’s METROrail, a single-line train that runs north-south from approximately downtown to the South Loop, passing through Reliant Park, opened a month before that Super Bowl, but did little to relieve the gridlock of a Super Bowl weekend.
Construction has begun on three new lines, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.
Logistics aside, Goodell said Houston was a fine host.
“At the end of the day, it comes back to passion for football and love of football, and you have that for sure,” he said.