|By Tom Stieghorst, South Florida
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 5, 2006 - When the Super Bowl comes to South Florida in 2007, its bounty is likely to better benefit Broward and Palm Beach counties than in the past.
A boom in hotel redevelopment in Miami-Dade County has shuttered some of its big hotels, prompting the game's organizers to shift business farther north.
As a result, an extra 10 percent of the 17,000 hotel rooms reserved for the NFL's use during Super Bowl XLI will move to Broward or Palm Beach counties. That's good for business, but the tighter supply of rooms is expected to raise prices for some consumers.
Rooms will start at about $300 a night at Broward's bigger hotels and could reach $800 for last-minute bookings.
It's no wonder the Super Bowl is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the hospitality business, according to local tourism promoters. It draws the elite of the business, sports and entertainment industries and lasts the better part of a week.
"The impact is massive," said John Webb, vice president of sports development for the visitors bureau in Fort Lauderdale.
Communities seeking the game are asked to put 17,000 "quality" rooms at the league's disposal, for use by teams, owners, league personnel, VIPs, league sponsors and advertisers, as well as fans that buy tickets through official channels.
Although the area's three counties work jointly to land the Super Bowl, most of the hotel rooms devoted to the game are in Miami-Dade County. That remains true in 2007. About 70 percent of the rooms officially blocked off for NFL use are in Miami-Dade, down from 80 percent previously.
Broward County hotels now account for about 25 percent and Palm Beach County supplies less than 5 percent of those rooms.
But some of the pillars of past Super Bowls won't be participating this year. The Sheraton Bal Harbour, initially named Miami-Dade's headquarters hotel for the 2007 game, is being razed for condos, eliminating its 645 rooms. (As a result, three hotels will now serve as the county's new headquarters: the Radisson, Marriott and Doubletree hotels in downtown Miami.)
The 1,338-room Fontainebleau will be partly closed for renovations. The 598-room Sheraton Biscayne Bay was imploded in November.
In all, nine big hotels have been scratched from the lineup, requiring 2,175 rooms contracted to the NFL to be rebid. Eight of the nine are in Miami-Dade.
"Broward and to some extent Palm Beach [counties] will reap the benefits of that redistribution," said Kathleen Davis, executive director of the Sport Management Research Institute, a consulting firm in Weston.
The 1,685 rooms in the NFL block that shifted to Broward mostly went to big hotels that were already supplying rooms for the NFL. The Sheraton Yankee Clipper raised its block from 200 to 250 rooms; the Bahia Mar Resort went from 125 rooms to 175.
At the 504-room Bonaventure Resort, which is finishing a $90 million renovation of its own, managers last month raised their Super Bowl commitment to 400 rooms from 300 rooms. Julee Cooke, marketing director for the resort, said the Super Bowl dovetails with efforts to raise the resort's profile after the renovations.
"It exposes us to such a top-quality and high-profile customer," she said.
For the rooms in its NFL block, Bonaventure can charge its highest rate allowed for group business, plus a 10 percent surcharge. For rooms outside the block, it can charge the highest individual room rate, which means about $350 a night. The resort also expects a windfall of ancillary revenue from its spa, hair salon, gift shop, restaurant and bars, catering services for private parties and room service for guests on the go.
Other hotels expect a similar ripple effect. "Our food and beverage outlets will be jamming," said A.J. Jabbour, general manager of the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, which has 20 rooms out of 207 contracted to the NFL.
In Palm Beach County, hotels doing big Super Bowl business include The Breakers in Palm Beach, the Boca Raton Resort & Club, and the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, which have committed a total of 600 rooms to the NFL.
Bill Talbert, president of the Miami visitors bureau, said the shift of rooms out of Miami-Dade is temporary and that a half dozen new luxury hotels in Miami-Dade that weren't around for the last Super Bowl in 1999 add in quality what has been lost in quantity.
"It would have been nice to have the Fontainebleau in place, but we'll wait until 2010 and they'll have a half billion (dollars) of improvements," Talbert said. The NFL has awarded the 2010 Super Bowl to South Florida, as well.
Talbert downplayed concerns that fewer rooms in Miami-Dade will raise prices, saying the Super Bowl fan is a different animal than those who go to regular-season games.
"They're spending $500 to $600 per ticket," he said. "The issue for the Super Bowl is just getting a room. There is no sticker shock on hotel rooms for a Super Bowl guest."
Talbert said that by 2010 there will be a slew of new luxury hotels in Miami-Dade for the NFL to choose from. By then, the question may be whether some hotels in Broward County will be sidelined for renovation projects of their own.
Some of the biggest properties in Fort Lauderdale, including the Sheraton Yankee Trader and Clipper hotels and the Fort Lauderdale Marina Marriott, have new owners who plan to launch extensive upgrades.
Nicki Grossman, president of the visitors bureau in Fort Lauderdale, said she didn't think any of the major Broward hotel redevelopment projects would be ongoing in 2010.
"There is no issue," she said. "2010 is not the year when any of these projects are going to happen."
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