02:22 - Source: CNN
See what Atlanta has to offer for Super Bowl fans

Story highlights

How the NFL chooses Super Bowl cities has changed over the years

Cities in warmer regions compete with cities that have new stadiums

Each city puts its own brand on the Super Bowl presentation

CNN  — 

The Super Bowl: Players dream about it, rappers sing about it and Patriots fans brag about it, but why is the game where it is?

This Sunday’s matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will be Tom Brady’s, Bill Belichick’s and the Patriots’ ninth Super Bowl appearance in the last 18 seasons.

Brady has more Super Bowl appearances than every single NFL team besides the Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers are second to Brady and the Patriots with 8 appearances.

Just as you find yourself every NFL postseason wondering how the Patriots are in another Super Bowl, every year you find yourself wondering how a particular city is chosen to host the Super Bowl.

The model has changed over time

The deciding factor in determining a Super Bowl city used to be warm weather, which is why Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Pasadena and San Diego have hosted 34 of the 53 Super Bowls since the game’s inception in 1967.

Miami and New Orleans are tied for hosting the most Super Bowls at 10, and Miami will host Super Bowl LIV in 2020 for a record 11th time.

But the touristy Southern and West Coast cities no longer just get to be the hosts because it is warm in February. Now, they have to compete to star in the most-watched US television broadcast.

President of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Michael Zimmer is responsible for coordinating the Super Bowl bid that was presented to the NFL for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 games, and he held this position during Super Bowl XLIV, which was in Miami in 2010.

Zimmer said in the past the NFL would invite cities to bid, and from those initial bids, the league would narrow that down to select cities. Then, the NFL would send out bid documents to the finalists, and those chosen cities review the documents and put together a bid and present it to the league. The 32 owners vote on the final bids to determine the Super Bowl host.

However, that model has changed.

“Now, they (NFL) no longer do the bidding model,” Zimmer said. “Now what they’re doing is going to a model where they (NFL) will ask you if you would like to host the game, and if you accept, then you negotiate the terms.”

Nailing the pitch to get the NFL owners to pick your city requires hundreds of days of preparation.

“It takes a little over a year to put together a bid,” Zimmer said. “It is about a 600-page document. What we do is we go to the (NFL) owners meeting, we pitch to the owners, and then the 32 owners vote on the cities they want to host the games.”

Your city gets the bid, now what?

Preparation for the 2020 Super Bowl started the day the NFL selected Miami in May 2016. The Miami Super Bowl LIV Host Committee is made up of 20 people, and Zimmer said the planning really never stops.

Hosting a game of this magnitude requires a lot of preparation, he said, and most people won’t see the bulk of that preparation.

Zimmer and his team will interview close to 15,000 people to get 10,000 volunteers, and they all have to be outfitted, fed and have background checks.

Besides having the volunteer staff and stadium ready for the Super Bowl, the host cities are responsible for working with law enforcement to secure all the venues such as the game site, other NFL events, host committee events and events for media such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

“We’ve had meetings with law enforcement for the past six months,” Zimmer said. Authorities identify the Super Bowl as a SEAR event, which means it has a Special Event Assessment Rating. As a result, “law enforcement plays a critical role – from the FBI to the marine patrol,” he said. “There’s always a piece of something that’s going on that we have to address.”

Learning from other Super Bowl cities

NFL cities in Detroit, Houston, Dallas and Indianapolis have built new stadiums, and the increased competition has made it harder for cities to get a Super Bowl since the turn of the century.

The competition is fierce, but Zimmer said the tougher competition is a great opportunity to see not only what other cities do to enhance the experience, but it also is great to see a city really brand the Super Bowl to what it is as a city.

“You learn from the other host cities and what a great job they do,” Zimmer said. “We are in a position to look at what’s the best practice – what did they accomplish well, what can we improve on – we take those lessons, and we apply them to our city as well.”