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Super Stadiums: Forgotten Sites of the Super Bowl

By Brandon Rolfe -- January 30, 2013 2:38 PM EST

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Super Bowl XLVII is set to kickoff on Sunday with much anticipation. The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, having not seen a Super Bowl since 1995, set off on their sixth Super Bowl appearance, going undefeated in their previous five appearances. Their opponent will be the AFC Champion Baltimore Ravens, who have only appeared in one previous Super Bowl, conquering a 27 point winner against the New York Giants in 2001. As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana will be preparing for their 10th Super Bowl, and their first since 2002. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, however, will only be preparing for its 7th. Did you know that Louisiana hosted Super Bowls in another stadium? Not only did New Orleans do so, but Tampa and Miami also had pre-existing Super Bowl sites. As the 49ers and Ravens kickoff in a decorated Superdome on Sunday, let's not forget the three Super Bowl sites that once held the most important game of the NFL season, that are now no more.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome was not always the home of the Saints. Between 1967 and 1974, the Saints called Tulane Stadium home. Located on the campus of Tulane University with a renovated capacity of 80,985, Tulane Stadium became the primary home for the Sugar Bowl game long before the Saints became a tenant. After the Super Bowl began in 1967, Tulane Stadium hosted Super Bowls IV, VI, and IX in 1970, 1972, and 1975. Aside from becoming a host Super Bowl site, Tulane Stadium also saw individual historical talent when the kicker for the Saints, Tom Dempsey, kicked a 63- yard field goal there in 1970; a record that still stands today, and has only been tied by three other kickers. As the Superdome was erected and then opened in 1975, Tulane Stadium was comparatively primitive, and deemed unsafe because of its aged structure. It was demolished in 1979, and since then, New Orleans has hosted seven more Super Bowls in the Superdome.

The days of the orange cream-sicle colored Tampa Bay Buccaneers jerseys did not occur in the current Raymond James Stadium, but rather at Tampa Stadium, also known as Houlihan's Stadium. Opened in 1967, Tampa Stadium was originally the home of the University of Tampa Spartans until the city of Tampa proposed an NFL franchise, which then became the Buccaneers in 1976. During its existence, Tampa Stadium hosted many different teams and many different sporting events, while also hosting Super Bowls XVIII and XXV in 1984 and 1991. The city of Tampa itself has hosted four Super Bowls, the most current being in 2009. Before its eventual move to Honolulu, Hawaii, the NFL Pro Bowl Game was originally held at Tampa Stadium in 1978, primarily because of its year-round warm weather climate. The stadium was also nicknamed "The Big Sombrero" by Chris Berman due to its circular "rise and fall" type shape. As the Florida heat took a toll on the concrete structure, Raymond James Stadium was built right next door as Tampa Stadium was demolished in 1999.

Perhaps the most notable Super Bowl site no longer in existence is the Miami Orange Bowl, which was located just outside of downtown Miami, Florida. Opened in 1937, the Burdine Stadium was originally built for the University of Miami football team, and hosted the annual Orange Bowl game since 1938, which is the name that eventually stuck to the South Florida stadium. The Orange Bowl has the oldest and richest Super Bowl history, hosting five Super Bowls including II, III, IV, X, and XIII between 1968 and 1979. Aside from Super Bowls, the Orange Bowl saw many successful years for the Dolphins including their perfect 16-0 season in 1972. In 1987, the Miami Dolphins, led by owner Joe Robbie, constructed and moved to a new stadium built specifically to hold both football for the Dolphins and baseball for the Marlins across the city, which is currently known as Sun Life Stadium. Renovation plans for the Orange Bowl fell through in 2007 and in 2008 the University of Miami signed a 25-year contract to play at Sun Life Stadium, subsequently resulting in the desertion of the Orange Bowl. Despite vocally upset fans and multiple protests, the stadium was marked for demolition, and after a long farewell ceremony with guests such as Dan Marino and Don Shula, Burdine Stadium was torn down. Today Marlins Park, the new home for the Miami Marlins, stands in its place as a somber reminder of what great sporting successes once occurred in that spot for over 70 years. Since the Orange Bowl's last Super Bowl, Miami has been home to five more between 1989 and 2010, bringing the city total to 10.

Tradition follows the NFL and the Super Bowl, and even more important than the tradition of teams and individuals are the traditions of a stadium where their talent was once shown. As you watch this year's Super Bowl events, either live or on television, remind or educate yourself of the past 46 years, the winners and losers, the close games and blowouts, and the stadiums which were once decorated with two teams' colors for one big game. Remember the stadiums that once gleamed in the sunset of a Super Bowl Sunday as the focal point of an entire city, state, and nation, and remember the memories of these previous Super Bowls which were not demolished with the structures of the stadiums which they were played. The pillars may not remain standing, but the tradition does, and will continue for one "Super" Sunday every year.

If you could have the Super Bowl in just one city or stadium, where would it be?

**Picture attributed to Infrogmation on Wikipedia

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