By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 5/17/10
Super Bowl XLVIII or XLVIIIce Bowl?
The New York Jets and Giants are both lobbying to host the 2014 Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands, a brand new, 1.7 billion dollar facility set to open its doors in 2010. The stadium has everything the NFL covets in a venue for their marquee event: it’s modern, has tons of luxury suites, is in a huge media market and is surrounded by a major city with unlimited entertainment opportunities.
It does, however, lack one very important feature: a roof!
Topping 40 degrees on an average February day in New Jersey is a struggle, sort of like selling PSL’s to frustrated Jets and Giants fans in a poor economic climate. Playing the most important game of the NFL season in less-than-ideal conditions would be a very real possibility should the game be played outdoors in the Northeast.
During last Wednesday’s Super Bowl “pep rally” in New Jersey, Jets Owner Woody Johnson snidely remarked: “We’ll be lucky if it snows!”
Lucky? How so?
Snow would present some unique, and potentially dangerous challenges for those fans traveling to the game – leaving open the possibility of empty seats for the big game. Plus, the NFL would be showcasing a compromised version of their product to the world.
While playing the Super Bowl in a cold weather city is nothing new –Minnesota and Detroit have each hosted Super Sunday under a dome – actually playing the game in those conditions without a roof would be without precedent.
Some have argued that the most legendary and memorable games in history have taken place in the cold weather. Heck, the 1967 NFL Championship Game was nicknamed “The Ice Bowl.” With a game-time temperature of -13 degrees and a wind-chill of -48 degrees, the Green Bay Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys for the right to play in Super Bowl II.
True, this game was both exciting, and unforgettable, but there’s something else important to note about the contest. It was a home gamethe Packers earned by finishing with a better record than the Cowboys. The Packers went on to face the Raiders in the Super Bowl, played at a neutral sight, the Miami Orange Bowl – game-time temperature: 86 degrees.
Forcing two teams, who have battled all season long, to play the most important game of their lives on a neutral site, in potentially cold and dangerous weather conditions ignores the integrity of the game. The rationale behind a neutral site has always been to provide an ideal venue to both teams, without any obstacles or advantages for either team.
With that said, if the NFL were to allow the team with the best record left standing to host the game, and that team happened to play in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium – so be it. Luck of the draw. As long as the Super Bowl site is a neutral one, it should be played in ideal conditions.
It’s also been suggested that the game of football is a sport tailor made for cold, snowy weather. While there may be some truth to that, there is no need for the fans to endure such treacherous conditions. The old Texas Stadium had it right: cover the fans and let the players play in the elements. The Jets and Giants could have shown similar compassion for their soon-to-be wet, shivering fans when building their new home.
Instead, the New Meadowlands will open its doors this September, sans roof. In four short years, they hope to host a Super Bowl there. They will learn their fate following a May 25th NFL owners vote. Both the Jets and Giants acknowledge that weather will be a factor in the decision, but it didn’t have to be this way.
Had they put a roof on their new football Mecca, this vote would be a slam dunk. Speaking of dunks, they would also be a top candidate to host future NCAA tournaments. Concerts, shows, speaking engagements, and conventions would also be the norm, year-round. One would think, over time, the additional events would help generate enough added revenue to offset the cost of putting a dome on the building…right?
It’s a hypothetical question left dangling out in the cold, like the thousands of fans forced to sit in potentially snowy conditions. When that happens, one can bet that Jets and Giants ownership will be warm and toasty, tucked away inside one of their new luxury suites, safe from the elements.
With comfy seats like that, no wonder Johnson thinks he “would be lucky if it snows.”
The average fan, trying to enjoy the game? Not so lucky.
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