In four years, we will have the first-ever Super Bowl in an open-air stadium in the North:
IRVING, Tex. â€” National Football League owners, lured by playing the sportâ€™s biggest game on the largest stage, combined with the promise that snow would not grind the event to a halt, awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to New York on Tuesday afternoon, making the New Meadowlands Stadium the host of what will be the first cold-weather Super Bowl.
The New York-New Jersey bid beat out proposals from Tampa, Fla., and South Florida â€” two traditional hosts â€” in part to reward the Giants and the Jets for building a new billion-dollar stadium together, a tactic the N.F.L. has used when they have placed the game in Detroit, Dallas and Indianapolis.
But the vote also represented an embrace of New Yorkâ€™s abundant entertainment, promotional and financial opportunities. The proposal called for everything from a Super Bowl float in the Macyâ€™s Thanksgiving Day parade to a party at Liberty State Park. Of more interest to a league bent on building revenue and an international audience is that the weeklong extravaganza would play out in the global media and business capital, and in an area where 36 percent of the 20 million people who live in the region were born outside the United States.
Those considerations outweighed concerns by some owners opposed to a cold-weather game that snow could wreak havoc on a weekâ€™s worth of parties and planning and that the outcome of the championship game could be affected by foul weather. In bid materials obtained by The New York Times, the organizers promised everything from hand-warmers to fire pits in the parking lots to keep fans comfortable and snowplows to clear the streets.
â€œElements can be a common factor in how a season unfolds, so why canâ€™t it be a factor in how the ultimate championship is determined,â€ Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboysâ€™ owner and a proponent of the New York Super Bowl, said before the vote was taken.
February in the Northeast. What could possibly go wrong ?
The states of New York and New Jersey think that they can convince the National Football League to schedule a Super Bowl for January in an open-air stadium in the north:
There could be the commissionerâ€™s party at the American Museum of Natural History and another party with a view of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park. Maybe a breakfast at Tiffany & Company for team owners and their families. Perhaps even a Super Bowl float in the Macyâ€™s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The bid to host the 2014 Super Bowl at New Meadowlands Stadium, portions of which were obtained by The New York Times in advance of its Wednesday unveiling, dresses the Super Bowl in a giant â€œI Love New Yorkâ€ T-shirt, spinning even the prospect of bad weather as a chance to go â€œold schoolâ€ and embrace a link to some of the N.F.L.â€™s storied cold-weather games.
Yet for all the spectacular possibilities proposed, the mundane realities of dealing with winter are likely to dominate the conversation about the bid. The plan includes elaborate contingencies for Super Bowl week, everything from providing hand warmers to fans at the game to having hundreds of people standing by with shovels to dig out the stadium. No wonder the proposal calls other public spectacles that have played out in the area, like papal Masses, â€œpracticeâ€ for the Super Bowl.
â€œThe focus was on those things that only this community and this stadium can provide,â€ said one bid official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans were not final.
It would certainly be a change for the NFL’s marquee event. The Super Bowl has never been played outdoors in the north, and the coldest recorded game time temperature in Super Bowl history was 39 degrees during Super Bowl VI in New Orleans. New York’s weather in January could be much colder, and snow, ice, sleet, or rain are not at all out of the possibility.
But, the bidding committee is trying to turn the possibility of bad weather into a positive:
â€œPlaying the game in a cold weather outdoor setting will add yet another element of intrigue,â€ it reads. â€œThe game will take on the â€˜old schoolâ€™ feel of the great outdoor contests of the past, yet it will be played in one of the leagueâ€™s most technologically advanced stadiums.â€
The committee is prepared for the worst, though. The teams, which will practice at the Giantsâ€™ and the Jetsâ€™ new facilities in New Jersey, which both have indoor fields, will stay at hotels within a few miles of the sites. The bid is built on having up to 800 people with shovels ready to clear the stadium, although more could be added if needed.
Part of the bid calls for covering some of the openings in the stadium to cut down on the wind and for using heaters to warm the concourses. There will be seat and hand warmers. And perhaps fire pits in the parking lots before the game.
â€œWeâ€™re really trying to embrace the weather and make it more of a communal experience,â€ the bid official said
That does sound a bit like putting lipstick on a pig, but there’s no doubt that a Super Bowl held in something other than a climate-controlled or climate-perfect environment would add a new element to the game, quite literally.
Will the NFL owners be willing to take the risk ? I think they should.