June 01, 2010
Super Bowl At Gillette? No Thanks
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Okay. The Snow Bowl was immortal. As long as you keep it within its proper context, that's fine and proper.
The final game ever played at old Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxborough Stadium made up for all the dull, boring and bland games played at the old concrete edifice which would perhaps not pass as an adequate football facility at most Texas high schools. A driving blizzard all game long made for a great scene, even though the game is still defined by a bizarre rule interpretation which changed the game, and the course of Patriot history.
And it was a playoff game. But it was the Divisional round, the winner merely going to the conference championship game. The Oakland Raiders beat the Jets in the Wild Card round out west the week prior, then flew all the way to T.F. Green airport in Warwick, R.I. (we assume) to meet the Patriots in conditions that would have made Santa Claus want to put on pads and hit someone. The Patriots won in overtime, 16-13, then went on to Pittsburgh and eventually to New Orleans on their way to their first Super Bowl win.
With this as a backdrop, the NFL recently took the bold step of awarding the 2014 Super Bowl to the new yet-to-be-named stadium in the Joisey Meadowlands. The stadium opens this year, but in four years it will become the first outdoor cold weather venue to host a Super Bowl. Not since January 2, 1966 has the championship of the NFL been contested in such an environment, when the Green Bay Packers hosted and defeated the Cleveland Browns 23-12, Jim Brown's final NFL game. It's been all Super Bowls ever since (as well as the absence from the title game by Cleveland ever since).
Opinions on this subject differ greatly. Some people love this idea, others do not. Count this writer in the category of not liking this plan. Having the Super Bowl in cities like Detroit and Minneapolis because they have domed stadiums was also a dicey proposition, but this only matters if you the fan care more about having fun at a Super Bowl rather than who wins the game. In the abstract, having the Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey is not a good idea, and you can justify it in terms of money and not just quality of football or fan enjoyment.
First of all, here are the main reasons why New York is getting the first cold outdoor Super Bowl. Naming rights have not yet been sold to the new stadium, and its getting a Super Bowl in four years just shot the naming rights up quite a bit. New York is the most populous city in the USA, and the financial center of the world, so there are practical reasons to have the first outdoor Super Bowl in this city. Fan entertainment and enjoyment won't be an issue with "The City That Doesn't Sleep" as your host, if making the Gotham party scene is your thing.
That said, having any Super Bowl in a cold weather stadium, including your own Gillette Stadium, simply isn't a good idea. Romantically speaking, a snowy game, a freezing cold Ice Bowl setting, a warm weather team trying to win a championship in arctic conditions, all make for interesting scenarios. But in the game that decides the league champion, it really isn't in the best interests of the game.
The Super Bowl has evolved into an event more than it has a championship game. Blame that, if you want to use the word "blame", on the powers that be in the NFL. You can trace this evolution back to the late Pete Rozelle, who used his marketing and negotiating genius to help make the Super Bowl what it is today. It is not enough to merely present a good game, which many of the old Super Bowls weren't, especially in the 1985-2000 period of domination by the NFC. Part of the Super Bowl is the game, but the big picture includes a lot more.
The best venues to host the Super Bowl are New Orleans, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, San Diego and Pasadena, Calif. Warm weather cities like Jacksonville and Houston don't make this list because of complaints about not enough to do in that particular city. Dallas will finally get its chance to break into this select circle when it hosts its first Super Bowl at the end of this upcoming season. Lucas Oil Stadium follows suit the next year, but it is doubtful visiting fans will find Indianapolis much different that Jacksonville or Houston.
New Orleans has hosted the most with ten (seven in the Superdome, and three in old Tulane Stadium), and will host its eleventh in 2013. Three stadiums are tied with five, two of those stadiums are or were in Miami (the Orange Bowl has been demolished). The other stadium with five is the Rose Bowl, but that venue has not hosted a Super Bowl since 1993. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego has had three Super Bowls. Tampa has had four Super Bowls divided between their old and new stadiums. The Georgia Dome has held two Big Shows.
These cities held multiple Super Bowls for a reason. Cities like New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and to a lesser extent, Tampa and Atlanta, offer a lot for the visiting football fan. San Diego is the most picturesque city in the nation, and it also has the best weather anywhere. New Orleans has Bourbon Street, which by itself more than makes up for issues with weather and oil catastrophes. Miami has its spring break reputation, but watch CSI Miami in high definition and get a real feel for the true beauty of the city with all the overhead flyover exterior shots. Los Angeles is more than well known for its star appeal, beaches and theme parks, and the Rose Bowl needs to get back into the hosting loop. All of these cities are more than capable of drawing in more money than the New York area, especially if the weather is lousy on Super Bowl weekend in the Big Apple.
You could do very well to just alternate the Super Bowl between these cities, and maybe include Dallas in the loop if things go well next February. Dallas is a dynamic city and has been for quite some time. Now that it has a monster stadium instead of their old tiny relic, the Big Show can now come to Big D. The stadium does matter; the one time San Francisco Bay Area hosted the Super Bowl, and San Francisco doesn't take a back seat to anybody in terms of natural beauty and nightlife, the game had to be played at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. So don't include SF yet on this list unless they too get a world class football venue, and we don't mean AT&T Park, where the Giants play and which hosts the Emerald Bowl.
What if the Super Bowl were in Foxborough? The entertainment/shopping mall complex at the stadium isn't enough to offset the fact that the game will be a town and not a city. Boston is too far away and not worth driving to if the weather is bad. Providence is no more a Super Bowl caliber city than Hartford, Springfield or Worcester would be. Fans would likely arrive late rather than early, spend all their money in Boston, then at the last minute make the trek down to Foxborough for the game. The CBS Place would simply not be enough for the fans to make Foxborough, Massachusetts the party center of the western world.
New York is getting the game because it is New York. It is what it is, says Bill Belichick. If anywhere on the planet has to have a Super Bowl where snow could be a factor, New York's the place. Now we can finally look forward to the big game being played at GE Stadium. Or perhaps Johnson & Johnson Place (that's the family that owns the Jets). You probably won't see the stadium named after Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, or even Jacob Javits.
Go visit San Diego, New Orleans, Miami or Los Angeles and see why this is a bad idea. Put the Super Bowl in the desirable locations. The two participating teams deserve no less. Only one Super Bowl in history was adversely affected by heavy rain. The championship game should not come down to snow or sleet or freezing cold. Leave that for the regular season and the lower playoff levels. The big game deserves the best conditions, period.
And don't buy this "domed/warm weather teams deserve to play in bad conditions" garbage. In the aforementioned Snow Bowl, the Raiders played the Patriots pretty darned tough until the Tuck Rule call sapped the life out of them. It still took that call and a miracle kick for the Raiders to finally fall. In the big games, weather really doesn't matter. So just have it in a balmy city where the fans can enjoy themselves and the players can play their best.
Admittedly, seeing Super Bowl patrons in the Venice Café in Norwood is a nice thought. But the Gaslight District in San Diego or Bourbon Street or South Beach are far more Super.
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