Against what the national media and those in the "know" in NFL circles believed to be the longest of odds, the City of Jacksonville was chosen to host Super Bowl 39 in February of 2005.
The idea of one of the NFL's smallest cities hosting its biggest game was born when Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver read of Barcelona using cruise ships to supplement the lack of high-end hotel rooms while hosting the 1992 Olympic Games. Jacksonville would be the first city bidding to the Super Bowl to turn to cruise ships and it was an idea that gained steam in meeting after meeting.
Commissioner Tagliabue embraced the concept and encouraged more "out-of-the-box thinking" as he looked for new and better ways to take one of the worlds' biggest sporting events to even greater heights.
Jacksonville would have to overcome more than a lack of hotel rooms. They needed more dining options, bars and meeting space. Their Super Bowl bid created entertainment zones and promised more events centered around golf with the PGA Tour, Jacksonville's Beaches and Amelia Island and even fishing tournaments in St. Augustine and Palatka. The bid also included $33 million in upgrades to Alltel Stadium, including a bar and high-end club in the south end zones and upgrades to the video boards.
Civic leaders from business and government contributed countless man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to put together the more than 700-page bid. In the end, it appeared the owners' confidence in Weaver and the appeal of growing the game in a new and different direction was more appealing than playing another Super Bowl in Miami.
"This is a city that has a track record of setting goals high and achieving them," said Tagliabue, who long had been a proponent of both Jacksonville and Weaver. Now that they had the game, the real work was in front of Weaver and his Super Bowl Committee.