Super Bowl should keep warm
Let it snow.
Let there also be sleet, freezing rain and an avalanche.
Anything that will convince the NFL that plopping Super Bowls in cold-weather locales is a brr-brr-brr-brutally bad idea.
The league is getting a frigid taste of what may transpire three years from now when New York-New Jersey hosts Super Bowl XLVIII. Sheets of ice, bitter wind chills and temperatures in the teens crippled the Dallas-Fort Worth region earlier this week. A Thursday night snowstorm has created even more unpleasantness.
Unlike many of my peers, I'm not personally complaining. As a media member, it's not like I'm actually out there working in the elements like others may be forced to do. I haven't slipped like several co-workers who needed medical attention. I'm also well aware that while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell controls a lot of things, the weather isn't one of them.
The NFL, though, should do everything possible to try and avoid this type of worst-case scenario for future championship games. The lesson should have been learned in 2000 at Super Bowl XXXIV when Atlanta turned into a skating rink.
By putting the Super Bowl where wintry conditions can wreak havoc, the NFL is turning a cold shoulder to the league's backbone: the fans.
Flights were being canceled or delayed at both Dallas airports Friday morning, stranding those Pittsburgh and Green Bay faithful who wanted to enjoy a weekend celebrating their team's Super Bowl XLV appearance. Whether they ever get here – or, if needed, can sell their game tickets or get a refund on hotel reservations – is touch-and-go.
Even if they arrive, native Pittsburghers and Cheeseheads actually will find conditions worse than back home. North Texas isn't equipped to handle this kind of snow and ice removal. A taxi strike – combined with limited availability and jacked-up rates – is compounding the problem.
NFL sponsors throwing lavish parties and players who had planned to attend festivities also are being left in the cold. Even the most dreadful city ever to host a Super Bowl – Jacksonville – looks like paradise in comparison.
Unlike with Atlanta, this week's meteorological mess won't doom Dallas as a future Super Bowl site. Because of its 100,000-plus seating capacity and domed interior, Cowboys Stadium is too lucrative a spot not to remain permanently in the rotation.
That's the reality of Super Bowl hosting. It's more about money than ever before.
Rather than stick with tried-and-true locales where cold weather never will be a major issue, the NFL would rather reward a city that helps build lavish new stadiums for the home team. There was no other reason for the NFL to hold Super Bowl XL in Detroit or Super Bowl XLVI next year in Indianapolis (shudder). The NFL even waived its long-standing rule about not allowing an outdoor Super Bowl in a city whose average mean temperature is less than 50 degrees so New York-New Jersey could bid for Super Bowl XLVIII.
The game has become a dangling carrot for teams with stadium initiatives. Notice the NFL hasn't returned to California – home for 11 of the first 37 Super Bowls – since January 2003 because of outdated venues in San Diego, the Bay Area and Southern California. The Super Bowl won't be back until a new facility is built. South Florida, which has hosted more games (10) than any other area, may be on the outs next because Sun Life Stadium quickly is becoming antiquated.
I'm aware that none of these issues affect the average Super Bowl viewer. Game attendance is a pittance compared to the 100 million-plus audience that should make Super Bowl XLV the most-watched television program in U.S. history.
The hype will be even greater for Super Bowl XLVIII because New York is the world's largest media market. The argument also can be made that such a cold-weather site is better equipped to deal with the elements than an area like Dallas-Fort Worth.
But on the flip side, the chance for more severe weather in the New York-New Jersey area is far greater. Even if Super Bowl XLVIII were played outside at the New Meadowlands Stadium during a whiteout, controversy inevitably would erupt. The winning team forever would be dogged by questions about whether the outcome would have been the same if the game were played in more ideal conditions like almost every previous Super Bowl.
The NFL already was forced to cancel one contest this season in Philadelphia because of a blizzard. It's not like that was the last severe storm to hit the Northeast lately, either.
Is anyone excited about the possibility of Super Bowl Monday or Tuesday? It could happen as soon as three years from now.
Such a calamity may be what it takes for the league to get over its Super Bowl brain freeze.