San Diego, Houston, Miami, New Orleans. East Rutherford, New Jersey?
One of these Super Bowl host cities, quite clearly, is not like the others.
The National Football League’s decision to host Super Bowl XLVIII in a cold-weather city — specifically one without a suitable indoor venue — has become a frequent target for criticism during the weeks leading up to the big game. Set to kickoff on Sunday, at 6:25 p.m., this year’s Super Bowl — which pits the Denver Broncos and their league-best offense against the Seattle Seahawks’ No.1-ranked defense — has been somewhat upstaged by the weather forecast.
Back in 2010, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the first-ever outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl would be played in New Jersey, the decision produced mixed reviews. Since that time, the sense of concern has risen as the challenges of hosting the nation’s most-watched sporting event under the harsh conditions of winter have come into focus.
There is no doubt that Goodell and the NFL owners took a gamble in selecting MetLife Stadium to host the 48th version of the Super Bowl. It remains to be seen as to whether or not they will be rewarded for that risk.
Theoretically, bringing the greatest spectacle in American sports to the New York metropolitan area is a recipe for an unprecedented amount of hype. In practice, however, the “crash-and-burn” potential of a “Big Apple” Super Bowl rivals that of one of MetLife Stadium’s familiar occupants — The New York Jets.
According to Weather.com, February is the tri-state area’s snowiest month with an average of 9.5 inches of precipitation. At this time last year, Winter Storm Nemo buried the city under 10 inches of snow.
Low and behold, when the Farmers’ Almanac was released last August, it predicted that a major winter storm would hit the Northeast around the time of Super Bowl Sunday. Last week, more than 1,300 workers could be found shoveling inside MetLife Stadium after it was blanketed with 13 inches of snow.
Several media outlets have already begun discussing the chances of a Super Bowl Saturday or Monday in the event of severe weather — a scenario that league officials have conceded as a remote possibility. On Jan. 23, NJ.com reported that NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said the game could be played anytime between Friday and Monday, if necessary.
Fortunately, the current weather forecast for Sunday is favorable, calling for a high of 39 degrees and placing the chance of rain or snow at just 20 percent. Assuming those predictions hold true, the conditions will be manageable—just don’t expect the Red Hot Chili Peppers to sport their usual shirtless look when they join Bruno Mars on stage for the halftime show.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Goodell stood by the league’s choice of MetLife Stadium.
“We made the decision that football is played in the elements and so we recognize that and we made a decision to do that. Championship games are often played in inclement weather,” Goodell said. “We had several games that were played in inclement weather, including playoff games this year. That’s football.”
The commissioner does have a point. There is something quite romantic about the prospect of the Super Bowl being played on a snow-covered field at The Meadowlands. However, in the event that America’s de facto national holiday — the Super Bowl — is interfered with, the results will be anything but romantic for Goodell and the NFL.