Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Fan of Fair Weather

Surely you've heard some of the talk lately about the Super Bowl being played at the Meadowlands in 2014. It was somewhat of a big deal that the New York/New Jersey area was even allowed to submit a bid to host the game. I get the appeal of the greater New York area hosting the Big Game - after all, it is the media capital of the country, if not the world. And while I'm hardly averse to the Super Bowl spreading the jing around in terms of host cities, it would be in football's best interest that the idea of a Super Bowl in East Rutherford, NJ stays an idea and does not become a reality. A cold weather or foul weather Super Bowl, especially one in North Jersey, would be a cluster(rhymes with truck).

First, let me tackle the issue of playing the Super Bowl at the still-unnamed new Meadowlands Stadium. If any of you have ever been to that area, it is an absolute horror show when it comes to traffic and congestion. One of the most densely populated areas in the country, the New York suburbs on the Jersey side would overflow like a popped zit if the thousands of media members and fans that tend to show up during Super Bowl week were to descend upon the area. Even if a fair number of people avoid the shitstorm that is North Jersey roads by taking public transportation, we're talking about yet another system that is essentially already used to full capacity, plus I can't imagine many ego-driven media talking heads being willing to slum it on NJ Transit. Hotels would be a mess, with many media outlets not wanting to pay the higher rates to put its employees up in the city, thus leaving the relatively fewer amount of hotels within acceptable driving distance on the Jersey side booked to the gills. I can go on, but I think we get it. These are largely the same reasons that New York got denied the 2016 Olympics as well.

Putting the specific city aside, an outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city brings game-integrity issues into play. I know there is a faction of people who would love to see a Super Bowl played in snow or howling wind, but it's just not fair. This mainly comes into play with pass-first, speedy teams like the Cardinals and Saints of the past few years who would be expected to struggle in poor weather. You can throw the "but a team should be able to win in all types of conditions if it wants to call itself a champion" argument out there, but I have one problem with that. If you make it through the conference playoffs, you deserve your shot at the Lombardi Trophy in as even-keel a setting as possible, because you've already proven you can win in adverse conditions (if your team won a road playoff game along the way) or, you did well enough in the regular season to secure home field throughout the playoffs and thus the right to play "your type of game" all along. I love the elements in football as much as anyone else, but not for deciding the championship. The weather and field conditions should not tilt a Super Bowl matchup to the degree that it very well could if it were played outdoors in the North in early February.

Peter King made a point in his SI.com column this week (the first item on the linked page) that sealed the deal for me when it comes to this issue. Making an exception so that the Meadowlands can host the Super Bowl sets a precedent for all the other cold-weather NFL cities to lobby for a Super Bowl of their own. Do we really want to hear all these cities and owners clamoring for a Super Bowl? OK, I can see having one in Washington, that wouldn't be terrible, and maybe in Baltimore if for nothing other than the two weeks of references to The Wire it would provide. But how about Green Bay or Chicago? No, too damn cold. Pittsburgh or Philly? No. Denver, Seattle, or Foxboro, MA? No, hell no, and f*** no.

The NFL has to toe a line to to award the Super Bowl to a city each year that will not only present optimal playing conditions for the game, but also provide a nice setting (new, modern stadium, agreeable vacation-type weather, or at least a good party city) for the sport's biggest $howcase. There's a reason New Orleans and Miami seem to get one every 3-4 years, and Los Angeles would too if it still had an NFL team. It's for the same reasons that Jacksonville, Houston, and Minneapolis shouldn't hold their breaths waiting for another one to get thrown their way. Hate to say it, but hosting the Super Bowl is a party that us northern cities are not invited to, and it's for everyone's own good.

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