Disappointed, yet defiant.
That was the prevailing attitude among Tampa Bay officials Tuesday after Arizona edged out the Bay area as the site of the 2015 Super Bowl, dealing the region a crippling blow in its efforts to play host to America’s premier sporting event for a fifth time.
"We’ll be back, and it will be our turn next time,’’ said Sandy MacKinnon, chairman of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee. "I think our guys did a superb job and we gave it our best shot for the community.’’
Owners did not reach a "super majority" of 75 percent approval for either region on the first ballot, but the second ballot required only a simply majority, or 17 of 32 teams, to award the event to Arizona for the third time.
Arizona previously served as the Super Bowl site in 1996 and 2008. The Bay area was seeking its fifth Super Bowl, having played host in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.
"The bid committee did an unbelievable job of presenting Tampa Bay as a fantastic place to have a Super Bowl,’’ said Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer. "At the end of the day, I think it was just Arizona’s turn and I wish them the best. This was the best Tampa Bay presentation I’ve ever seen, but Arizona was ahead of us in the rotation.’’
In an effort to bolster Tampa Bay’s proposal, billboards touting Bay area beaches and the region’s mild February weather sprung up over the weekend in time for NFL owners to see on their way from the airport to their Houston hotel.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to sway a majority of owners into overlooking Arizona’s edge on Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl pecking order.
"It’s probably the rotation more than anything else,’’ said Paul Catoe, outgoing CEO of Tampa Bay and Company. "We’ve had a Super Bowl since Arizona last had one and that meant a lot to some of the owners.’’
Back in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn was disappointed with the decision.
"I would like to have better news,’’ Buckhorn said. "We fought a good fight, no doubt about that. Our team did a heck of a job.’’
After NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the results of the vote, he walked into a hotel meeting room crammed with dejected Tampa Bay officials.
Goodell went around the table shaking hands and congratulating the Tampa Bay contingent for a superb effort that fell just short.
"We are thrilled to be back in Arizona," Goodell said. "I will say it was a difficult choice."
The chance to compete for the 2015 game represented a key opportunity for the Bay area.
The league’s showcase event will celebrate its 50th anniversary the following year, with the 2016 game likely to be awarded to Los Angeles, site of Super Bowl I. Other cities like Miami, San Francisco and some Northeast hopefuls could be in the mix beyond 2016.
"I’m confident that the next time there is open bidding for a Super Bowl that we will carry the day,’’ Glazer said. "The league looks at Tampa Bay as a great Super Bowl host. We have everything they’d want – great stadium, great community, great weather, beaches … everything.’’
While Arizona dropped out of last year’s competition for the 2014 game, citing a harsh local economy, Tampa Bay turned in a persuasive proposal that almost wrested the Super Bowl away from a heavily favored bid by New York and New Jersey.
Owners reduced the 2015 competitive field to Tampa Bay and Arizona in an effort to ensure favorable weather.
"Tampa made a great presentation today and we’re just happy to come out on top,’’ said Mike Kennedy, chairman of Arizona’s host committee. "We’ve been in the running three of the last four years and we left in the same position Tampa is in today. They had a setback, but they’ll be back and they will host another Super Bowl soon. They did a wonderful job in 2009 and I know how they’re feeling right now.’’
Ice storms in Dallas during Super Bowl week undermined this year’s game and the next three Super Bowls are slated for Indianapolis, New Orleans and New York.
The NFL also set Feb. 2, 2014 as the date of the Super Bowl in the New Jersey Meadowlands, the first outdoor Super Bowl at a cold-weather site.
Reporter Keith Morelli contributed to this report.