The NFL wasn’t saying much publicly about its plans for Super Bowl XLIX, if controversial Senate Bill 1026 hadn’t been vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Privately, the league was beginning the process of moving the game out of Glendale.
Don Banks of SI.com reported before Brewer killed the bill that the league began investigating the steps necessary to relocate the next Super Bowl. Per Banks, Tampa likely would have been the first option.
“It’s a big undertaking and one the league would very much like to avoid,” an unnamed source close to the situation told Banks. “It’d be incredibly logistically challenging to pull it off and no one’s even sure if it’s possible. Some expert would have to make a decision on that at some point, but the game’s going to be played somewhere next year.”
The NFL pulled the Super Bowl from Arizona 24 years ago when the state declined to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But the decision in 1990 to pull the plug on a game set to be played in 1993 gave the league much more time to make other plans. (Arizona ultimately voted to recognize the holiday in 1992, and the NFL ultimately gave Super Bowl XXX, played in 1996, to Arizona.)
The discussion became moot once Jan Brewer applied her John Hancock to the veto form. But the experience serves as a reminder that, like the Miss America pageant, the first runner-up in the Super Bowl sweepstakes could eventually be wearing the crown.