The NFL will use the Jacksonville landscape to promote a season-long theme that will lead the league to Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced at a press conference this afternoon that "Building Bridges" will be the theme for the game Jacksonville will host on Feb. 6, 2005. Tagliabue made that announcement at the conclusion of the league's owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Amelia Island.
"Building Bridges" is a theme that is portrayed by the Super Bowl XXXIX logo, and Tagliabue explained that theme is symbolic of "what we do as a league, uniting people who have a passion for our sport," he said.
"We're excited about the initiative the league has taken toward branding the season," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said. "We'll take advantage of that as a football team and as a city."
The media conference provided reporters with an opportunity to quiz Tagliabue on the progress Jacksonville is making toward hosting the big game, but Tagliabue shrugged off questions about problems, concerns or skepticism about Jacksonville's capabilities. He chose, instead, to use the word "unique" in describing next season's Super Bowl.
"I never sensed skepticism. If there had been skepticism, there wouldn't have been a Super Bowl. Our people don't vote for skepticism. I've seen enthusiasm from day one and it's building," Tagliabue said.
Jacksonville will be the smallest venue to ever host a Super Bowl, and the problem of a shortage of hotel rooms was eased by a cruise ships concept. Though it would be the first time the NFL will have used cruise ships to provide mass lodging, Tagliabue dismissed it as an issue.
"The cruise ships would be one element that would be unique here … but they're professionals," he said of the boat people. "I don't have concerns. I have issues that have to be resolved. The issues, in my mind, are that we have many of the events concentrated in the center of the city. We had the same issue in Houston.
"Everything I've seen confirms the good judgment we made in coming here," Tagliabue added.
Oh, he also mentioned that "internal changes" have been made in the creation of the game's halftime show. "The halftime show, I think, will be outstanding," Tagliabue said.
You might use the word "unique" to describe the most recent Super Bowl halftime show.
Tagliabue said the league will use the Jacksonville Super Bowl to also recognize the importance of the military's presence in north Florida.
"We're approaching this game with a lot of energy. As we go forward, we have an opportunity to give each (Super Bowl game) a distinctive feel and signature that may have been missing in the past," Tagliabue said.
Jacksonville's distinct feel and signature will be tied to its bridges.
"I think we're much further along than most host cities," Weaver said. "When we take on an initiative here in Jacksonville, we usually do it over the top.
"We have a lot of special things here in Jacksonville people haven't discovered, and we'll make sure they do," Weaver added.
The league will assist in that pursuit by branding the 2004 season with a Jacksonville flavor.