Super Bowl gets a cold shoulder
ARLINGTON, Texas – In the hours before dawn on Tuesday winter slammed into this place they call The Metroplex. A frozen rain pattered against windows, a frigid gale whipped through the streets. By dawn the streets and highways were coated with ice.
Then on Friday, after a storm left six inches of snow on the ground, falling ice from Cowboys Stadium’s roof injured five people.
And the question keeps rising again and again: why, why, why does the NFL insist on playing its biggest game in cities that can not guarantee good weather?
On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers rose to a scene that probably looked to them very much like home. They left around 7 a.m. for media day at the stadium that started three hours later. It was not a pleasant bus ride.
The roads between anywhere in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and Cowboys Stadium were nearly impossible to navigate on Tuesday morning. Those taking buses to the media day session at the stadium were given a police escort, not that one was necessary. The highways were empty. Radio and television had warned everyone to stay home. Downtowns were deserted. A wind whipped mini tornadoes of ice down nearly vacant avenues.
On one freeway fly-over, stalled tractor trailers locked in an ice-driven jackknife blocked all the on- and off-ramps. Cars rested in ditches. And yet the NFL pushed on.
It is fortunate that neither team’s bus flew off the freeway just so everyone could be on time for the annual ritual of silliness dominated again by the appearance of TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz, this time clad in a dress so tight it nearly cut off her circulation.
Ultimately, the league risked everything for what, exactly?
So Jerry Jones can have a Super Bowl in his giant new stadium?
So folks in Dallas and Ft. Worth and everyplace else in this sprawl called North Texas can say they had a Super Bowl where the cheapest tickets cost more than $1,000 and parking is $95?
It is clear a lot of people have spent years working to make sure this place they are suddenly calling North Texas puts on a fine Super Bowl. It’s not their fault an ice storm hit on Tuesday. And it’s not their fault people got hit by falling ice. And it’s not their fault that Dallas is unfit to host a Super Bowl. Indianapolis, Detroit, Atlanta and all the other cold or fringe weather cities that have hosted or been given Super Bowls present similar problems. The game is not meant to be hosted in cold places.
The success of the Super Bowl always came with balmy afternoons where fans and sponsors could enjoy golf junkets and the game was certain to be played in conditions no worse than rain. Super Bowl weeks become a convention of sorts where players and sponsors and opportunists all meet to celebrate the nearly completed season. It was not an event where people were meant to be trapped inside.
But in recent years the awarding of the Super Bowl has become a political game, one in which powerful owners are rewarded for erecting outlandish palaces to be used primarily two handfuls of weekends a year.
Super Bowls should be played in a constant rotation between San Diego, New Orleans and Miami, with occasional forays into Phoenix and Tampa. When Los Angeles gets its new stadium – which it inevitably will – it can be added to the mix. These are the cities that guarantee either ideal weather or a perfect downtown setup where everyone can walk between hotels and the stadium.
Yet the league has already handed the 2014 Super Bowl to the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, which is open-air and destined to be frigid by the time the game comes along.
“I think the idea of playing in the elements is central to the way the game of football is played,” Goodell said at last year’s Super Bowl in reference to New Jersey’s bid.
Now one of Chicago’s mayoral candidates, Gery Chico, is proposing the city should do all it can to land the game. Undoubtedly a movement will be undertaken. Another city that is ill-suited to host the Super Bowl will make a great push.
And the game will get farther away from what it was meant to be.