NFL picks bright lights for Super Bowl
“Instant warmth” was the phrase used in Tampa’s pitch for Super Bowl XLVIII.
“Instant money” was the unspoken value of having the 2014 game in New York/New Jersey.
Guess which side won Tuesday’s bidding?
Tampa’s host committee should have known NFL owners need not worry about sitting outside in the February cold like the common spectator. Besides, the benefits of playing right near the Big Apple will provide plenty of extra compensation toward the heating bill.
No disrespect to Tampa or coming championship sites in Dallas, Indianapolis and New Orleans. But a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl will blow them all away in terms of hype, exposure and revenue. That’s why the NFL can gleefully start spreading the news about the game’s impending arrival.
“Our bid was the best in terms of number of seats and overall economic impact,” Giants co-owner John Mara said at the NFL spring meetings, where the owners vote was held. “Plus, there’s just something about the excitement of playing on the world’s biggest stage.”
This will be the Super Bowl’s biggest stage and one that can make the platform even grander in the future. No previous host site has featured the local mechanism to promote the game as well both domestically and internationally — the latter of which is key for the league’s long-term financial growth.
Foreign media outlets based in New York City will be more inclined to send their reporters to Super Bowl events than spend for out-of-town coverage. The annual Tuesday media day — which is intended more for “reporters” wearing wedding dresses or superhero costumes than traditional football hacks — will regain some of the headline-generating wackiness missing in recent years with lighter attendance.
NFL guests and themes will dominate New York-based shows from Good Morning America to Late Night with David Letterman leading into the game.
Even in such an ethnically diverse region of 9 million residents, most everyone in the five boroughs will be aware of the Super Bowl — if not the rules or players — by kickoff. No matter which teams are there, the NFL’s worldwide television ratings record will be set.
The only surprise Tuesday was the Super Bowl vote taking longer than a New York minute. Tampa made a surprisingly strong run after the elimination of South Florida, which was hurt by stadium issues and having already hosted two of the past four championships. It wasn’t until the fourth ballot that New York/New Jersey had the 17 votes required to secure the event.
Potential wintry conditions were a concern for some team owners. Baltimore’s Steve Bisciotti told The Baltimore Sun about a “doomsday” scenario in which the game was postponed because of a blizzard. Such disaster is possible, but recent history shows the kickoff temperature could be warmer than the 39-degree mark for Super Bowl VI in New Orleans.
If conditions are messy, the door would be shut for other possible cold-weather sites like Denver or Washington, D.C. On the bright side, Super Bowl XLVIII would automatically join other cold-weather contests in NFL lore like the Ice Bowl. Frigid conditions also have proven prosperous for NFL television ratings, which wasn’t lost on FOX Sports chairman David Hill. He joked in a statement, “if we’re really lucky, it will begin snowing right after halftime.”
Asked whether the NFL would pick a cold-weather destination every year, Jets owner Woody Johnson said: “Probably not. But 2014 sounds good.”
Not everything the Jets and Giants ownership groups said sounded that way. As with all Super Bowl economic studies, I’m dubious of Johnson’s claim the game will make a $500 million economic impact on the region. And who was Giants co-owner John Mara kidding when proclaiming this a great day for Jets and Giants fans? Even if both teams reach the Super Bowl, only a tiny share of the 82,000-plus seats available in the New Meadowlands Stadium will wind up in their hands. The rest will go to corporate sponsors and other fat cats.
Yet there is something Mara said that is indisputable: “Let’s face it, there’s only one New York City.”
And now, there will be at least one Super Bowl right across the Hudson River.