Super Bowl XLVIII is awarded to New York/New Jersey and questions begin on “Weather” it was the right decision

Like it or not… the New Meadowlands Stadium will be the site of Super Bowl XLVIII

Start spreading the news….New York/New Jersey will host Super Bowl XLVIII at the new Meadowlands Stadium in 2014.  After the much ballyhooed removal of the NFL’s biggest game’s temperature parameter (average of 50 degrees Fahrenheit), the New York contingent led by NY Giants’ co-owner John Mara (wore his father’s 1956 championship game ring for good luck) and NY Jets owner Woody Johnson overcame some long odds to bring the crown jewel of the National Football League to the nation’s largest city.

I don’t know what Mara and Johnson showed in their 15-minute presentation or what they said in their last  5-minute plea session, but league owners were moved enough to give the impassioned owners and their new $1.7 billion dollar stadium the sporting world’s biggest game.  As is the case many times, the New Yorkers had to stay “tough” and in the end the New York/New Jersey region outlasted four other contenders to be the proud owner of a tourism revenue influx like none other seen in sports – Dallas expects to generate $150-200 million in revenues for Super Bowl XLV in 2011. 

The New York/New Jersey bid won on the fourth voting ballot of the league’s 32 owners by receiving a simple majority of votes over final contender, Tampa Bay.  The four regions originally involved in the bidding process for Super Bowl XLVIII were Arizona, who dropped out in February, leaving New York/New Jersey, South Florida, and Tampa Bay. On the first two ballots, none of the three remaining regions received at least 75% votes (24 of 32 owners), so by rule the lowest region (South Florida) was eliminated …BTW: boohoo as this area has hosted 10 Super Bowls.

A third ballot between New York and Tampa was once again did not produce the 24 votes needed for selection, so on the crucial fourth and final ballot, it was Mara and Johnson left standing – received the required 17 votes to gain a simple majority. The process did take some time, but in the end the New York/New Jersey got their wish.  And now the real fun will start as there are questions around weather, VIPs, traffic, hotel room, ticket prices — 95% of the tickets for the Colts-Saints game in Super Bowl XLIV were $800, $900 and $1,000 – parties in Manhattan, and did I mention the weather…oh I did.

It seems everyone that I have talked to around the NFL has had different reservations about the bringing the Super Bowl to the Northern region of the United States, but the biggest questioning point is around the expected weather in the New York/New Jersey region in February.  It is a huge gamble by the NFL to bring the world’s biggest game to an open-air stadium in the middle of winter, but I say, “Why not”.  The Super Bowl has already been played in cold weather cities before, like Minneapolis and Detroit without ticket sales suffering and not even a smidgen of fan apathy.  According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the coldest outdoor game in Super Bowl history was Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans in 1972, with a game-time temperature of 39 degrees.

Yes, this time the Super Bowl will not be played in perfect conditions inside a 70 degree air conditioned dome stadium and the elements will be in play, but the NFL has great history of big games played in bad weather.  “The Freezer Bowl”, “The Ice Bowl”, and even Super Bowl XLI where Tony Dungy led the Colts to a huge win in a rain storm — in Miami, Florida no less. Football since teams like the Akron Pros and Canton Bulldogs played in the 1920’s has been all about playing in the rain, snow, wind, sleet, mud, and just plain “Gettin’ Dirty!!!”  Just ask all-time greats like Sam Huff, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Dwight Stephenson or Jim Brown if they ever cared about planning in the muck and grime of the NFL and I am sure the answer would be an emphatic, “No”.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it best when announcing that his city would be getting the Super Bowl, “If it snows, it snows.  This isn’t volleyball…it’s football, for God’s sakes.”  However I think some fans, league officials, VIPs and media are really most unhappy about the “Party Scene” around Super Bowl week possibly being affected by bad weather than the actual game itself.  But trust me, I covered Super Bowl XL in Detroit and even though it was cold outside, everyone, including NFL-crazy fans, were more than able to have a frolicking great time.

The factors that I believe drove the NFL owners to accept the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl bid were:

  • New York City being the league’s headquarters
  • The league finally paying back the Mara family for over 70 years of keeping the sport’s revenue-sharing model together
  • A “Why Not” attitude amongst most of the owners to try something new – The New York/New Jersey bid’s slogan was “Make Some History.”
  • Other cold-weather city NFL owners wanting future shots at finally hosting a Super Bowl too – Miami and New Orleans have hosted 10 each
  • A possible back-door deal between Johnson/Mara and the NFL to give the league’s two biggest market teams an incentive for building a new stadium
  • Helping the NY Jets and NY Giants sell signage and seating in the new Meadowlands Stadium
  • And lastly…the great environment and show that you know only New York City can put-on even if there is a chance of wintery conditions…I wonder what Jay-Z and Alicia Keys have planned for February 2014

So now the precedent has been set with New York/New Jersey and the cold-weather/open-air new Meadowlands getting their Super Bowl.  Look for every finger to be crossed in NJ/NYC for a great game in 2014 and that they don’t “screw it up”.  And do not discount that if all does go well in 2014, that other cold-weather/open-air stadium owners like Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos), Daniel Snyder (Washington Redskins), Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia Eagles), and Robert Kraft (New England Patriots) will want to be the next host franchise to bump more established Super Bowl venues out of the way.

Selfishly, I am hoping for snow on Super Bowl Sunday 2014 as I love football in elements especially when running backs have to put on their “snow tires”.  But bad weather or not, Super Bowl XLVIII will be a precedent setting event where a lot of NFL fans and media will be saying, “I told you so”, afterwards.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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