What was the NFL Thinking?
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on Yahoo! Voices, Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Super Bowl XLVIII will be played on February 2, 2014 in New York/New Jersey. It will be the first Super Bowl ever played in a cold-weather city without a domed stadium. The one thing I want to know is; Why in the world does the NFL think that this is a good idea?
This Super Bowl was awarded to New York/New Jersey as a result of a new stadium being built to replace Giants Stadium. This has become the norm in recent years. To paraphrase a line from the movie, Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will give you a Super Bowl."
Previous Super Bowls have been played in the cold weather cities of Detroit, Michigan (2006), Pontiac, Michigan (1982), Minneapolis, Minnesota (1992) and Indianapolis, Indiana (2012). While the weather outside at game time might have been less than ideal in those cities, the fans and players at the game enjoyed perfect conditions inside the stadiums. The weather outside had no effect on the game.
In the weeks leading up to the game, those cold-weather cities embraced many outdoor winter activities for out-of-town fans such as snow skiing, sledding and ice skating. All that is fine and the fans who chose not to participate in them still had a good time inside at the game and at other indoor pre-game events. However, Super Bowl attendees in 2014 will not be able to "opt-out" of the cold weather during the game.
The host city for a Super Bowl has little to do with the resident NFL team or its fans. This is the league's game. It is their way of catering to its corporate sponsors and high roller fans who can afford the ridiculous prices associated with attending the big game. The Super Bowl is an event, a place to be seen and to hobnob with other high end fans of the league.
These fans are looking for a good time, not only at the game, but during the week leading up to the game as well. I have never been to MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, but I am sure it a great place to attend an NFL game, just not in February.
The NFL points to great cold weather games of the past, such as the 1967 NFL Championship game in Green Bay between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, a.k.a. The Ice Bowl, as one of the great moments in league history, and it was. But who were the people in the stands that day? Were they well to-do fans from L.A. or Miami? No. They were the good people of Green Bay, who had been there all season long and who laugh in the face of subzero temperatures. That was their team on the field and those fans were going to support them no matter what the weather conditions. Just how many Cowboys fans made the trip to Green Bay and were in attendance at the game? The Packers won the game and went on to play the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II on January 14, 1968 … in sunny Miami, Florida.
Die-hard Packers fans would fill Lambeau Field in any type of weather, any month of the year to support their team, but that will not be the case in New York. Fan of the Jets and Giants will be scarce at the game, unless one or both teams are actually playing in the game.
The fans of whatever two teams make it to Super Bowl XLVIII will have to decide if they want to shell out big bucks to go to the game in February and take a chance on who-knows-what the weather might be like, or stay at home and watch the game from the comfort of their homes with some friends and a big screen HDTV. As a person who lives in the Midwest, my idea of a February getaway involves beaches, sand and sun. It does not include sitting in an open air stadium after dark when the temperatures plunge even colder than they are during the day.
I'm pretty sure that fans who live in Miami, Dallas, Arizona, New Orleans or San Diego will think twice and opt to stay at home, even if their team happens to be playing in the game.
And what about the halftime show? Don't expect to see a lot of skin like you did this year during Beyonce's performance. Bruno Mars was recently announced as the halftime performer. I hope he knows that he needs to dress in layers!
I would think that the NFL would want to have the best field conditions possible for its championship game so that it will not be a possible factor in the final outcome of the game. But what do I know.
In 1932, the NFL decided to hold its first ever championship game in Chicago between the Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans. A terrible snowstorm hit the city a few days before and the game was moved inside to Chicago Stadium where the Blackhawks played hockey. I doubt that Super Bowl XLVIII will be afforded such an opportunity.
The game is still a few months away and the weather has been the main focus of discussions for quite some time. The Farmer's Almanac has already predicted harsh weather conditions in the New York/New Jersey area on game day. The potential for things to go wrong before and during the game based on weather conditions are numerous. This could be the first Super Bowl since the early games to have a considerable amount of empty seats at the game.
Depending on what the score is in the second half, the game could be played in a mostly deserted stadium. The term, "Fair Weather Fans" could actually come into play.
For a league that is constantly looking to uphold a certain image, it seems to me that this upcoming Super Bowl has a real potential to be an embarrassment on many levels. Regardless, I will be watching the game from the comfort of my home, with a fire going in the fireplace and cup of hot chocolate in my hand!