It is a moot point now that Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial SB 1062, but the NFL had already begun taking steps to secure a different location for next year's Super Bowl. It would have gone, in all likelihood, to Tampa.
The NFL never said outright it would take Super Bowl XLIX away from Arizona if the bill, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay, lesbian, and transgendered customers by citing religious beliefs, was signed into law. But Sports Illustrated's Don Banks reports that the league was already reviewing Tampa's second-place bid for the game, and was poised to begin an accelerated relocation process with just 11 months to go.
Raymond James Stadium, which last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009 and barely lost out to University of Phoenix Stadium in a runoff vote in 2011, was the overwhelming favorite to get the game on short notice. But a league source told Banks that the NFL wasn't waiting to see the fate of the bill to get things moving.
"No one wants to do this, but if the league's hand is forced, it would have to begin preparing for that process,'' the source close to the situation said. "If this doesn't get vetoed, it has to know, what has to be done next? That discussion has begun.
"Two weeks ago no one would have been discussing who finished second in the 2014 Super Bowl bid process. So that's what changed. The NFL has to know the possibility, however remote, that it would have to move the game and begin preparations to do that. It would be imprudent not to begin that process.''
The league had relocated a Super Bowl once before, though on three years' notice: The 1993 game was taken away from Arizona after residents voted not to recognize MLK Day. With the veto of SB 1062, that will remain the only one for now.