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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Bob McNair: SB bid 'city effort'

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans owner Bob McNair says civic leaders should orchestrate efforts in trying to land the Super Bowl, and that the team should have little involvement.

On Wednesday, Harris County Sports Convention Corp. chairman Edgar Colon said the county and Reliant Park plan to bid on the 2017 Super Bowl.

"That's fine," McNair said Thursday after the Texans' morning workout. "It's really a city effort, and it's a big effort, so I'm glad there are some people interested in jumping in there and getting something started."

Reliant Stadium hosted the 2004 Super Bowl, two years after the Texans joined the league. A drawback to Houston as a future site, McNair said, is that it's not considered a tourist destination, often a factor in where Super Bowls are played.

"When people start thinking about, 'Where am I going to go on vacation this year?' they don't typically think about Houston," McNair said. "We need to change that image. That's part of it.' "

Colon was speaking at a presentation where consultants recommended turning the dormant Astrodome into a multipurpose facility, at a cost of about $270 million. The consultants also recommended a $385 million project that included a new 10,000-seat arena, exhibition space and a 2,500-3,000-seat parking garage at Reliant Park.

The Texans' Reliant Stadium sits on the west side of the park, and the consultants said those projects will enhance the city's chances of landing the Super Bowl, as early as 2017.

McNair says the team itself can help the effort by continuing to win. Houston won its division and advanced in the playoffs last year and will enter the 2012 season as one of the favorites to win the AFC.

"The better we do," he said, "the more favorably people will look upon Houston."

The Harris County commissioners will look at the consultants' recommendations at a meeting June 26. McNair says the process of deciding what to do with the Astrodome and Reliant Park are still "very preliminary," but he's happy to see some progress.

"Certainly, something needs to be done with the Astrodome," he said. "It's just gone downhill. That's fine. I'm glad the commissioners will be looking at it. If they deem it the right thing to do and want to submit something to the voters for them to make a determination, that's fine."

But McNair is also hoping to secure more funding in the future for repairs and replacements to Reliant Stadium, the $352 million venue which now dwarfs the Astrodome next door. Reliant hosted the 2011 Final Four, will host the 2016 Final Four and houses the biggest events for the city's massive annual livestock and rodeo.

McNair says about $2.5 million is reserved annually for repairs and upgrades to Reliant Stadium. He says the number needs to be more in the range of $8 million to $9 million.

"Our first concern is Reliant Stadium, and we want to make sure we have adequate funds for repairs and replacement and improvements," McNair said. "Right now, we don't have adequate funds, so I'd like to see that taken care of first."

McNair was getting his first look at the Texans in organized team activities after attending the owners' meetings in Atlanta earlier in the week. The NFL voted to make thigh and knee pads mandatory equipment for the 2013 season, a rule that's drawn criticism from the players' union.

"I don't think there's a legitimate complaint," McNair said. "We're for player safety, and I thought that's what the union was for. I don't know why they're complaining.

"What's happened is, from a technology standpoint, you have padding now that's very light, very thin and is more protective than what we've had in the past," he said. "I don't think it will have much impact on a player's performance. If everybody is having to wear the same equipment, then it's equal. I don't see that as being bad at all."

The owners also voted to move the trading deadline from after Week 6 to after Week 8, and to allow one "marquee" player placed on injured reserve to return to practice after the sixth week of the schedule and to the lineup after the eighth week.

Last year, Texans outside linebacker Mario Williams tore a chest muscle in Week 5. McNair said Williams was healthy enough to return for the playoffs, but couldn't, because he was on injured reserve.

"So I like the rule change," he said.