Rich Thomaselli | February 01, 2016 1:05 PM ET
Super Bowl 50: Ranking Every Super Bowl City
As the Super Bowl turns 50 with this year’s version of the Big Game, I have a decidedly unique view of America’s greatest sporting event.
As a sportswriter for many years, I covered the NFL and attended three of these things. As a travel writer, I have been to every city that has hosted a Super Bowl.
With that as a backdrop, I offer you up one man’s opinion on how these Super Bowl host cities rank.
This list is based on purely subjective motives that include such things as tourist attractions, good food, good nightlife, the city’s role as Super Bowl host, and, well, whether I had a good time while there.
In other words, it’s unscientific and purely subjective.
NOTE: Though this will be the 50th Super Bowl, several cities have hosted multiple games, including Miami and New Orleans 10 times each.
19) PONTIAC, Mich. – Having lived in Michigan, I can tell you it’s a wonderful place. But the old Silverdome was just not a good place for a Super Bowl. Not much to do in the town itself and it’s 40 minutes from downtown Detroit – which isn’t far when the weather is nice, which it wasn’t back in 1982 during the Super Bowl.
18) INDIANAPOLIS – Middle America. Not bad. But not great.
17) JACKSONVILLE – What’s not to like about a Super Bowl by the beach? Problem is, as we said, this is subjective. And Jacksonville just doesn’t have the "feel" of a Super Bowl town.
16) MINNEAPOLIS – I once flew into Minneapolis for a Big Ten basketball game for the first time, took a shuttle over to the rental car area, got the keys, walked to the car and found a note. “We apologize we could not wash this vehicle due to the extreme cold.” It was -41 degrees with the wind chill. Enough said.
15) ARLINGTON, Texas – Not impressed with Jerry Jones World on its first – and so far only – Super Bowl effort.
14) PALO ALTO, Calif. – Palo Alto and Santa Clara, site of this week’s game, are kind of married to each other here. The draw, of course, is the proximity to San Francisco.
13) SANTA CLARA, Calif. – See above.
12) TEMPE, Ariz. – Two more cities paired together because of the proximity to Phoenix and Scottsdale. And glorious weather.
11) GLENDALE, Ariz. – See above.
10) LOS ANGELES – In all honesty, this is the one town I really wrestled with. It has everything, of course, including star power. But L.A. hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl since 1993 mainly because it can’t even keep an NFL team. Perhaps the St. Louis Rams returning to the city of angels and a new billion-dollar stadium in the ‘burbs will help.
9) DETROIT – Go ahead, pick on it all you want. But now that the venue, Ford Field, is in downtown, The D is hopping. Great eats – try anything in Greektown – not to mention casinos and world-class music.
8) HOUSTON – A great stadium certainly helps, but this has always been a great city on the rise.
7) SAN DIEGO – Another Super Bowl city by the beach. Love this town, the weather and the laid-back atmosphere. The stadium is an issue though in terms of future Super Bowls.
6) EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Oh please. I know they’ve only hosted one Super Bowl and with Met Life Stadium being an outdoor facility, this was a true cold-weather Super Bowl two years ago – albeit on a decent day. But it’s right by the greatest city in the world. What more could you ask for?
5) PASADENA, Calif. – There are three things I love about Pasadena as a Super Bowl host. The tranquility of the city. The Rose Bowl is one of my favorite sporting venues ever. And it was the first time I was ever introduced to a Cheesecake Factory.
4) ATLANTA – No complaints here. The city is used to throwing big events like NCAA basketball championships, the SEC football title game, and a little something called the Olympics. Atlanta knows how to do it right.
3) TAMPA – Two words: Bern’s Steakhouse. Two more words: Ybor City.
2) MIAMI – The ultimate beach. Miami throbs, and we mean that in the coolest way possible. It’s just a tremendous town with incredible energy and diversity. Perfect place for the Super Bowl.
1) NEW ORLEANS – If Miami has incredible energy, New Orleans has non-stop energy. Other than Las Vegas, this is the ultimate party town where sometimes – sometimes? – the Super Bowl itself is secondary to the action. Miami has Miami Beach and Collins Ave., New York has Times Square and myriad other neighborhoods, but nobody has Bourbon Street.
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