Super Bowl week begins, ice and snow no-shows

Patriots coach Bill Belichick could leave his familiar hoodies

in the hotel drawer. There was no need to bundle up for the start

of only the fourth Super Bowl week in a northern city.

Ice and snow? Notable no-shows.

Fans threw open their jackets as they walked around downtown

streets near Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, hoping to get a glimpse

of a celebrity in town for the game between New England and the New

York Giants. Temperatures in the mid-to-upper 50s were forecast for

the start of the week, well above normal.

The sunshine felt so good that it made for a joke or two.

”I know the way we’re preparing and the way we’ve controlled

the weather, which is hard to do,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said,

smiling. ”But we’ve had certain techniques that were going to keep

hidden, and I hope they hold.”

Already, it’s way better than Dallas.

Weather is a major concern when the title game goes north, but

some of the biggest problems came down south last year. Snow and

100 hours of sub-freezing temperatures snarled traffic and led to

injuries when an icy patch fell off the stadium roof and hit six

workers.

Indianapolis watched and prepared.

”You can have anything in Indiana,” Super Bowl Host Committee

spokeswoman Mel Raines said. ”Our plan is intended for

everything.”

In its first three times at a northern exposure, the NFL’s title

game has experienced a little of everything.

The ground-breaking game came after the 1981 season in Detroit,

a test of whether it would work outside the sunny climes of

Florida, New Orleans, Texas and California. The week leading up to

the game between the Bengals and 49ers included bursts of snow

culminating in nasty conditions for game day.

Bored players passed the time that week by spinning their tires

on the ice-covered hotel parking lot for fun.

”I think the biggest challenge was for guys not to get bored to

tears,” former Bengals offensive lineman Dave Lapham said. ”We

kind of felt cooped up, really. Guys talked about: What are we

going to do? Ski? Ice skate? You could strap on skates and skate on

the streets. There was nothing do to.”

Traffic heading to the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., on game day

got clogged by another burst of snow. Fans braved temperatures of

13 degrees and a wind chill of 21 below.

After that experience, there was talk that the league would

never venture north again for a Super Bowl.

”I thought they’d stick to it, honestly,” said Lapham, now a

broadcaster for the Bengals. ”But with the dynamic of people

putting up more money for stadiums, they’re going to reward

communities.”

Ten years later, the Bills and Redskins played for the title in

Minneapolis, where the ground was covered with snow but the region

handled it much more smoothly.

Then, the cold became a selling point for some Redskins players.

Earnest Byner, Art Monk, Monte Coleman and Chip Lohmiller went ice

fishing on Cedar Lake in 30-below wind chills. Byner caught a

4-inch perch using a wax worm.

The game returned to Detroit after the 2005 season and things

went much more smoothly despite a little snow on game day, when the

Steelers beat the Seahawks.

Last year’s game in Dallas became an unexpected reminder of what

can go wrong in winter, no matter where the location.

A snowstorm and 100 consecutive hours of subfreezing

temperatures turned the Dallas area into an ice rink. Snow and ice

fell from the roof of Cowboys Stadium, injuring six workers on the

plaza below. Organizers had spread events around a 30-mile area to

emphasize the regional support for the game, creating major travel

problems when the weather went bad.

Indianapolis has done it differently.

Most of the Super Bowl events are clustered downtown, minimizing

travel. Temporary structures for the Super Bowl festivities were

fitted with wind gauges for safety. On Sunday, two tents at an NFL

fan exhibit were closed for about an hour because of high

winds.

The roof of Lucas Oil Stadium is designed to collect and melt

any falling ice to prevent what happened in Dallas.

The city removed parking meters from high-traffic streets

downtown so snow could be easily pushed away. Twenty-four snow

removal trucks were on call for the game, four times the normal

amount. The host committee recruited ”Super Shoveler” volunteers

to help clear sidewalks if it snowed.

In some ways, it’s a warm-up act for the first true cold-weather

title game. The 2014 Super Bowl will be co-hosted by New York and

New Jersey, played outdoors instead of in a dome during the middle

of winter.

The logo for that game? A blue-and-white snowflake.

Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot and AP writer

Carrie Schedler in Indianapolis contributed to this report.