- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2003

Phoenix has surged into front-runner status in the race to play host to the 2008 Super Bowl, NFL sources said yesterday.

With the vote for the game by NFL owners now less than three weeks away, the ascension of the Arizona bid spells trouble for those by the Washington Redskins and New York Giants to stage the game in their home stadiums. The FedEx Field and Giants Stadium bids were the first to seek to play the NFL’s marquee game outdoors in a cold-weather city.

The Arizona Cardinals are to open a state-of-the-art stadium in 2006 in suburban Glendale, and it appears too many NFL owners, particularly those in the South and West, do not want to disrupt the current tradition of playing the game in warm climates or in a dome.

Ratification of a Super Bowl requires approval from at least 24 of 32 team owners in a secret ballot. If three successive votes fail to produce that margin, a straight majority vote then determines the winner.

The Cardinals and Sun Devil Stadium won plaudits for their job of being hosts for Super Bowl XXX in 1995.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue first pushed for the New York and Washington Super Bowl bids two years ago following the September 11 terrorist attacks. But earlier this week, he told the New York Daily News that “the question we have now is that Arizona’s been chasing this game for about 10 years and other cities are more recent runners in the race, so to speak.”

Meanwhile, preparations from other bidders continue. The Redskins’ Super Bowl Host Committee at Redskins Park met yesterday. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson was named to lead the presentation at a meeting of NFL owners from Oct.28 to 30 in Chicago.

Thompson, now president of the Federal City Council and an actor on NBC’s “Law and Order,” will be joined by several local and regional politicians in Chicago, including Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.

The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, manager of Giants Stadium, is due to meet next week to ratify a new lease arrangement with the Giants that will include a $290million, privately funded renovation of the facility.

Written Super Bowl bids must be in league offices by Wednesday. Tampa, Fla., also is bidding for the game.

If New York and Washington fail in the 2008 vote, it is likely they will seek a future Super Bowl.

Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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