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Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Charlotte not ready to host a Super Bowl

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An $87.5 million upgrade recently began at Bank of America Stadium that could make the home of the Carolina Panthers worthy of hosting a Super Bowl.

But is the city ready?

Probably not.

There reportedly is a big "football" game -- as in soccer -- coming to the stadium. Manchester City is to play Liverpool on Aug. 2, according to the World Soccer Talk blog and other outlets.

But there are major obstacles to getting a Super Bowl in Charlotte, the two biggest being weather and hotels -- with the latter being the biggest.

First the weather, since that was a major topic surrounding this year's Super Bowl in New Jersey. The average temperature in Charlotte in early February is the mid-to-low 50s. That is considerably better than the average mid-to-low 30s where Sunday's game was held.

It's still not the fan-friendly 65- to 75-degree averages you get in Miami, Phoenix and San Diego.

When I woke up Jan. 29, it was 5 degrees in Charlotte with remnants from a Jan. 28 snowstorm still on the ground. Then on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2) the temperature was in the mid-60s, rising to the low-70s on Feb. 3.

There also was rain.

So you never know quite what you will get.

If you are going to deal with weather, there should at least be enough activities for fans in the area to keep them entertained during the week. It's a bit cold to go rafting at the National Whitewater Center, and I can't see a large contingent of football fans piling into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Still, the biggest obstacle is hotel space. Host cities typically are required to have 25,000 hotel rooms within an hour of the stadium. The Charlotte Region Visitor's Authority reported recently that there are 24,010 rooms in Mecklenburg County, with more than 7,000 of those in surrounding counties.

Within walking distance of downtown, the CRVA said there were only 4,100 rooms. That's doesn't create the atmosphere the NFL typically looks for in a host city where the downtown turns into party central.

Look no further than New York City, where there were reports of more than a million people in a 13-block area known as "Super Bowl Boulevard."

That Charlotte had success hosting the 2012 Democratic Convention might help an argument that the city could host a Super Bowl, but the convention drew only 35,000 people.

So while Carolina might have a stadium that is Super Bowl worthy once renovations are complete, the city and region have a ways to go.