Friday February 27th, 2015

The NFL says the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium needs $50 million of upgrades before hosting Super Bowl LI in 2017, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The upgrades include Wi-Fi installation and improvements to suites and club seats, NFL senior vice president of events Peter O’Reilly said, according to the report.

The stadium opened in 2002 and hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, when the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers. Super Bowl LI is set to take place in February 2017.

Houston won the Super Bowl bid for 2017 after promising that improvements would be made to the stadium.

[]“This was a state-of-the-art facility in 2004. Comparable stadiums of this age have been helped by updating, (including) suite facilities (and) club facilities,” O’Reilly said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“That’s lacking. In 2004 and those early years, it might have been right at the top of the league, but there’s a drop-off now. There are investments that need to be made to have that special Super Bowl experience — those commitments that were made within the bid when Houston was awarded the Super Bowl.”

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The retractable roof stadium, which can seat up to 80,000 spectators, hosted the 2011 Final Four and will be the site of next year's Final Four.

O’Reilly said the burden for the improvements rests with Harris County and the owners of NRG Stadium.

“I’m surprised a bit, but there’s an opportunity to remedy that, an opportunity for people to work together, find a solution and get this done,” he said.

Edgar Colon, chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., disagreed with O’Reilly’s contention that the county would foot the bill for all of the upgrades.

“Some of those (expenses) may be the responsibility of the county and some may not be," Colon said, according to the report. "We’re analyzing all that and going through the contracts and the documents and having conversations with our major tenants to resolve all of these contractual obligations."

- Scooby Axson

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