A snowball’s chance: NJ picked for 2014 Super Bowl
February. Gray skies. Snowflakes. Brrrrrrrr.
Well, grab your boots and plow the snow. The Super Bowl is
coming to the Meadowlands.
In New Jersey? In the dead of winter?
“We’ll all pray that it doesn’t snow that day,” Arizona
Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said.
NFL owners voted Tuesday to put the 2014 Super Bowl in the new
$1.6 billion Meadowlands Stadium that this season will become home
to the New York Jets and Giants. It’s the first time the league has
gone to a cold weather site that doesn’t have a dome; until now,
those places couldn’t even bid on the big game.
So, why the risk?
“Let’s face it,” Giants co-owner John Mara said, “there’s
only one New York City.”
“We promise the greatest game in the greatest venue in the
greatest city,” added another co-owner, Steve Tisch. “Now we’ve
got to deliver.”
Mother Nature may have a lot to say about that.
The coldest kickoff temperature in Super Bowl history was 39
degrees, and that would be considered a warm February day in East
Rutherford, N.J. Average February temperatures there are 24 to 40
degrees, with several inches of rain, according to the bid
Remember, the game kicks off after the sun goes down in the
Eastern time zone, so temperatures would be dropping throughout the
“Everyone knows it’s risky,” said Miami Dolphins owner Stephen
Ross, whose bid was eliminated in the second round.
It might end up being another Ice Bowl, Fog Bowl, Freezer Bowl
or something else worthy of a frigid nickname. That’s not what the
bidders had in mind when they adopted the slogan, “Make Some
History,” but for all the inconvenience to those in the stadium,
it might look great on TV.
The extended version of Bart Starr’s game-winning sneak in the
Ice Bowl in 1967 opens with Cowboys defenders scraping their cleats
into the ice to try getting some traction. Teeth chatter just
watching the replay of Tom Brady’s fumble that was ruled an
incompletion in the snow-filled Tuck Rule game. In Brett Favre’s
final game with the Packers, he ends a chilly playoff game by
throwing an interception, then runs off with steam coming out of
his mouth; it was against the Giants, too.
“People talk about the weather, but, you know, this is
football, not beach volleyball,” New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg told the NFL Network.
The NFL has required an average temperature of 50 degrees or a
dome for a team to even bid on hosting the Super Bowl, but the
league bent the rule to let New York bid.
It’s billed as a one-time exception, but just a few years ago,
the NHL experimented with an outdoor game on New Year’s Day, and it
came off so perfectly that teams now fight to host what’s become
the annual Winter Classic. Maybe this will work out that well,
“I think it will turn out to be a great event,” NFL
commissioner Roger Goodell said.
The weather worries could even add to the hype. In addition to
predicting which teams will make it, fans can guess how nasty it
“We’ve played some (frigid, wet December) games there and I
know firsthand that the fans had great experiences even though it
was in inclement weather,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Players are split on the decision.
In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room, quarterback Byron
Leftwich said the weather doesn’t matter “because it’s the Super
Bowl … and you’re not going to let 15 degrees change anything.”
But linebacker James Farrior countered, “I play enough games in
Giants and Jets players are thrilled.
“There’s something special about this city, man,” Jets
cornerback Darrelle Revis said following a rally in Times
“We should’ve done this years ago,” said Giants defensive end
Justin Tuck, who also was part of that celebration.
The 50-degree rule was created for the comfort and convenience
of fans and players. Anyone who has ever planned an outdoor event
can appreciate how much of a relief it is to not worry about the
weather. Neutral conditions, like those in a dome, also are
supposed to help the caliber of play. It also makes it more comfy
for all the practices, parties and other events during the week
leading up to the game.
It’s been at least 57 degrees for every Super Bowl since 1975,
when it was 46. That’s why Florida and California have been such
“In the back of everybody’s mind, people want to be in South
Florida that time of year,” Ross said.
Tuesday’s vote had been widely considered a formality, but it
didn’t play out that way. Even after Miami was eliminated, it took
two more rounds of voting for New York to get the nod over
“New York knows how to put on an event,” Ross said, putting
aside his weather warnings. “It’s not like you lost to some small
town that doesn’t know how to put on big events.”
Being just outside the Big Apple means lots of glitz and
spectacle, Buildup will include everything from a float in the
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to parties at internationally
renowned destinations. There will be game-day shots of the
Manhattan skyline in the distance, and thousands watching on the
jumbo-screen TVs in Times Square.
The flip side is that security will become a bigger issue,
perhaps among the most expensive pieces of the budget. An expected
economic impact of $550 million would help offset some of the
Planners are already making the most of the weather. They’re
plotting to give out hand warmers and heated seat cushions – and
will be selling plenty more NFL-branded merchandise to help fight
off the elements. They’ll also have hundreds of folks ready to
shovel away snow, and anything else necessary to make the
experience more than bearable.
The team owners were asked where they would sit – indoors or
“Probably both,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said.
Mara laughed and said, “I like that.”
Other cities have built big, expensive stadiums and would love
to have the weather rule waived for them.
Odds are, the NFL will wait and see how this foray into the
great outdoors in winter goes. Then the league might OK another bid
– like for Washington, saying the nation’s capital deserves the
nation’s most popular event – but it would take a year or two to
figure out the logistics. And votes are taken four years out, so it
might be until 2019 or 2020 before it happens again.
The upcoming Super Bowl, in February 2011, will be at Cowboys
Stadium, followed by Indianapolis’ new stadium in 2012 and a 2013
return to the Superdome for the first time since Hurricane Katrina
ripped off part of the roof.
The 2014 game will be held Feb. 2nd, 9th or 16th, depending on
how that season’s schedule is set up.
That leads to one more question: Anybody have a 1,300-day