February 7, 2014

Warm Thoughts About Cold Weather Super Bowl

Warm Thoughts About Cold Weather Super Bowl

New York hosted the Super Bowl last weekend, and by all accounts (well, maybe not Peyton Manning’s), it was an overwhelming success, despite the fears and trepidations of staging the event in a cold weather climate without a domed stadium.

The weather gods must be football fans. Since January 1, the metro New York area, which includes New Jersey, has had some of the worst weather I can remember. We’ve had unusually bitter cold days and several major snow falls. In fact, the week leading up to the big game started off in the single digits, and the day after the game put us in the throes of another blizzard. But at game time, the temperature was a balmy 49 degrees. Who would have predicted that?

The game was played a mere 10 miles from midtown Manhattan at MetLife Stadium, the shared home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, in none other than East Rutherford, NJ. I might note for those of you not familiar with the geography of the NY metropolitan area that MetLife Stadium is actually closer to midtown than some of the outlying areas of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, the four outer boroughs that, together with Manhattan, make up New York City.

Most, if not all, of the events leading up to the big game were staged on “Super Bowl Blvd.,” a stretch of Broadway in New York City that ran from the northern edge of Times Square (47nd St.) south to Herald Square (34th St.). And to judge by the throngs and the excitement, the entire game week was a win – for the merchants (hotels, restaurants and retailers) who benefited from all the people who came to town for the game, with or without tickets; the fans who attended the pre-game events and of course the game itself; and the teams that played. Well, at least the Seahawks feel that way.

All of this goes to show that the Super Bowl doesn’t need to be played in a warm weather state or a domed stadium to attract a crowd and drive business.

I grew up in the days before domed stadiums. No, I’m not that old, and domes haven’t been around all that long, but I have fond memories of the early games in Green Bay, played during blizzards where you could barely see the lines on the field. That’s the way the game started, and there’s no reason it can’t be played that way today. The tickets were sold out, the hotels and restaurants all booked, the pre-game events were all mobbed, and nobody knew it was going to be 49 degrees at game time until the day before. As the saying goes, schedule it and they will come. Even in an outdoor stadium in a cold weather state.

The next several years are already spoken for – 2015 in Phoenix; 2016 in Santa Clara, CA; and 2017 in Houston – but I think the NFL owners really need to consider other cold weather cities that want to host. Whether it’s Philadelphia or Foxboro or anyplace else, the fans will come, the teams will play. And the local economies will prosper.