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Owners to decide on 2018 Super Bowl site

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Jim Irsay Speaks

BY BARRY WILNER
AP PRO FOOTBALL WRITER

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Big Easy, Naptown or the Twin Cities.

That's the choice facing NFL owners when they vote Tuesday on the site of the 2018 Super Bowl, choosing among New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.

Each city has hosted the big game, albeit just once for Indy and Minny. New Orleans has staged 10 Super Bowls, tied with South Florida for the most.

Most recently, the 2013 game was delayed 38 minutes by a blackout at the Superdome. Despite that power problem, New Orleans is considered a favorite to be chosen by the 32 owners as the city celebrates its 300th year. A three-quarters majority is required for passage.

Saints owner Tom Benson recently had minor knee surgery, but the 86-year-old Benson is expected to attend the meetings.

Colts owner Jim Irsay is taking part in league business for the first time since his arrest for having $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his car. Irsay has been undergoing treatment and the owners meetings is Irsay's first public appearance since the arrest.

"It's just good to be back and good to be able to put an effort into regaining the Super Bowl," Irsay said. "I really feel we did such an incredible job the first time."

Irsay declined to comment on whether he would address the other owners about his personal situation.

Only the Vikings will present a brand new stadium in their bid, a $1 billion indoor facility scheduled to open in 2016.

"We're going to celebrate winter. And we should, because we do it well - better than anyone," said Richard Davis, co-chair of the Minneapolis bid committee. "We're going to talk to the owners about how it's about time that the NFL brought America's game around the country, like a caravan, and started taking it out from the Southern states and bring it around to the rest of the world. We should be the first."

Actually, the game was held in New Jersey this year - the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather site.

Indianapolis was highly praised for its Super Bowl in 2012, when the Giants beat the Patriots. The city has a history of staging big events and will host the Final Four next spring at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The NFL always has favored bringing its title game to New Orleans, and the appeal of warmer weather in Louisiana than in the other bidding cities could be a factor.

Next year's game is in Arizona, and the 50th Super Bowl will be in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 2017 game is set for Houston.

Also on the agenda, although no vote is certain, will be expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to 14. That proposal was discussed at the league meetings in Orlando in March. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said it's still possible such a change could happen this year if it is voted on and passed in Atlanta.

More likely, 2015 would be the target date for expanded playoffs.

"We're being very deliberate about it," Goodell said. "We want to make sure we do it in the right way."

Goodell also has been championing improved workplace environments in the wake of the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal. Owners will talk about that issue on Tuesday.

"You never want to see any story that reflects on that we don't have the right workplace environment," Goodell said. "We've redoubled our efforts to make sure we provide the right environment ... for everybody in the NFL."
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