Stadium Tours: Super Bowls Past & Future

Published: 23rd October 2008
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The 2008-2009 NFL season may just be getting started, but that doesn't mean it's too soon to start dreaming about the big day. Super Bowl Sunday, that is. The biggest sporting event of the year, not to mention the nation's most watched television broadcast, the culminating battle between the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) is as much an American icon as apple pie, Uncle Sam or Coca-Cola.

In fact, fascination with The Big Game has moved beyond couches and face paint and into the travel sector. Much like many baseball fans have a lifelong dream to tour the historic stadiums of their favorite pastime, places like Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field, many football fanatics have made it their mission to visit as many past Super Bowl venues as possible.

Here we'll look at a selection of past and future Super Bowl stadiums that deserve a place on your lifetime travel list. Along with information on the titanic clash and the stadium itself, we'll provide accommodation suggestions for each town for your ease of travel.

Past Super Bowls

Super Bowl XIX - Stanford Stadium - 1985

What a game! The anticipation was truly palpable when two of the greatest quarterbacks in history, Dan Marino for the Miami Dolphins and Joe Montana for the San Francisco 49ers, took the field under the eyes of over 116 million viewers (still one of the highest viewerships in history). It was a game of records on both sides of the field, with MVP Montana rushing for a record (at the time) 59 yards. Anticipation aside, the game was more or less a one-sided affair, with the 49ers dominating the action by 22 points.

An historic stadium by every right, Stanford Stadium was built in only four months in 1921. Along with being the regular venue for the Stanford Cardinal since its opening, the Stadium has hosted additional high profile events, including soccer matches for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles and even Herbert Hoover's 1928 speech accepting the republican nomination for President. Stanford Stadium underwent a $90 million renovation in 2005 to reduce total seating capacity (now 50,000) and modernize the venue.

While the highlight of the event will surely be a visit to the stadium, the town of Stanford may not satisfy an entire vacation, so we recommend staying in nearby San Francisco instead. Hotel recommendations include:

Rewarding San Francisco hotel reservations at Marriott Fisherman's Wharf.

For an affordable choice in San Francisco hotels, consider the Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf.

For boutique San Francisco hotels in Union Square, choose the upscale Hotel 480.

Super Bowl XXXVI - Louisiana Superdome - 2002

When the New England Patriots pulled off an incredible upset victory over the St. Louis Rams, who were the favorites by 14 points, it was simply the kicking off point for a team born to dominate. Quarterback Tom Brady's incredible final drive, resulting in a winning, post-clock field goal by Adam Vinatieri, earned him the MVP nomination. The Pats have since gone on to win two more Super Bowls this decade, narrowly losing out on a fourth trophy to the New York Giants earlier this year.

The Louisiana Superdome is a classic stadium and site of six Super Bowl Games between 1978-2002, the most of any other single venue. While football fans have long been aware of the stadium's incredible presence, the structure became a national and global icon for the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in September of 2005 when it served as home to over 30,000 stranded individuals. After being closed for a year following the disaster, the Louisiana Superdome finally reopened for NFL football and a successful season for the New Orleans Saints.

Enjoy a game at the Louisiana Superdome and get a taste of the vibrant life of New Orleans by staying in the famous French Quarter. Recommended hotels:

For an exciting choice in New Orleans French Quarter hotels, consider the Holiday Inn French Quarter.

Another popular choice of French Quarter hotels in New Orleans is the Holiday Inn Chateau LeMoyne.

Super Bowl XL - Ford Field - 2006

The run-up to Super Bowl XL was met with consistent controversy and hand-wringing, especially concerning what was considered by many to be biased or uneven officiating throughout the divisional playoffs, so when the Pittsburg Steelers and Seattle Seahawks finally met at Detroit's Ford Field, a gray cloud already hung over the game. It didn't let up. After the Steelers' pronounced 21-10 victory over the Seahawks, there was an initial and lasting uproar, mostly by Hawks fans, over the quality of the officiating. The NFL made a statement defending its officials, but no matter what was said, the damage, as they say, was done.

Ford Field, named for the Ford Motor Company whose family owns a controlling interest in the stadium and the Detroit Lions, is an impressive modern stadium that in part inspired the recent movement towards architectural incorporation. A pre-existing six story warehouse (formerly operated by Hudson's) was built into the structure of the stadium to give it a natural look and the avoid demolishing an otherwise historic building. This idea has been practiced several times since.

For a satisfying choice in Detroit area hotels, pick Doubletree Detroit / Novi, MI Hotel.

Super Bowl XLII - University of Phoenix Stadium - 2008

Our most recent contest, and one of the most exciting in recent memory, Super Bowl XLII brought yet another debilitating upset. After a remarkable 18-0 season, the New England Patriots were finally defeated in the biggest game of the year by the New York Giants, ending what was widely expected the first undefeated season since the Miami Dolphins of 1972. Team supporter or not, there isn't a football fan in the country that wasn't on the edge of his or her seat during young Eli Manning's winning drive in the final three minutes of the game.

Confusingly, University of Phoenix Stadium is not the home field of the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has no intercollegiate athletics program. The adults-oriented University simply purchased the naming rights. Completed in 2006, the stadium is one of the newest in the league, is home to the Arizona Cardinals, and boasts having no obstructed-view seating and a retractable roof that can be opened in only 12 minutes. Business Week magazine named it one of the 10 most impressive sports stadiums in the world, the only American venue on the list.

Enjoy that beautiful Arizona sunshine, and perhaps some of Phoenix's famous golf, at the Embassy Suites Phoenix - Scottsdale Hotel, one of the top Phoenix hotels.

Future Super Bowls

Super Bowl XLIII - Raymond James Stadium - 2009

Historically, the Super Bowl is played in a warm weather venue for the comfort of the players, officials and spectators alike, and the only three times it has been hosted in a northern venue, twice in Detroit and once in Minneapolis, it has always been in a domed stadium. Therefore, it makes sense that the most popular venues by a wide margin are South Florida, New Orleans, and Greater Los Angeles, where they've hosted 25 of the 42 games.

It also makes sense that they would so often host their game in sunny Tampa where the weather is cozy year-round, the accommodations are affordable, and the locals are all about the game. In 2009, the Super Bowl will come to Tampa for the fourth time, and second this decade, at Raymond James Stadium. An immensely popular stadium since its opening in 1998, the most famous feature of Raymond James Stadium is the 103-ft. replica pirate ship, a nod to home team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, desk reporting for CBS took place aboard the pirate ship, something you can expect NBC to continue in February of next year.

Keep your trip easy by staying at one of the top Tampa hotels with airport transportation, the Embassy Suites Tampa Airport Hotel.

Super Bowl XLV - Dallas Cowboys New Stadium (working title) - 2011

The new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas will be the first major football field built in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area since 1971, and people are lining up to break it in. Along with Super Bowl XLV in 2011, the first in North Texas, the stadium will host the 2009 and 2010 Big 12 Championship Games as well as the become the permanent home of the Cotton Bowl, another popular NCAA college football match-up.

Proof that they do everything bigger in Texas, the massive stadium is expected to hold 80,000 for regular events with expanded seating up to a projected 100,000 for major events like the Super Bowl. At an estimated $1.3 billion, it's on track to be one of the most expensive sports venues ever built, but the stadium designers guarantee that visitors will be able to "see the money". When it opens in 2009, it is expected to house the largest high-definition television in the world along with state-of-the-art architectural design allowing for incredibly fast seating conversions to accommodate various types of events.

Although they have yet to sell the naming rights, you can be sure that it will not be called Dallas Cowboy New Stadium when it opens in the fall of '09.

Dallas, Texas is a huge city with ample lodging options:

Make a convenient in central choice in Dallas Market Center hotels at the Holiday Inn Dallas Market Center hotel.

Another good choice in Dallas, TX hotels near Dallas Market Center in the Hilton Garden Inn Dallas Market Center hotel.

For Dallas, Texas hotels near Love Field Airport, choose Embassy Suites Love Field.

Among Dallas hotels near SMU and the airport, you'll enjoy Doubletree Hotel Dallas - Campbell Centre.

Embrace one of America's most hallowed vacation ideas: the stadium tour. Don't you think baseball fans have hogged it long enough?

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