TELANDER: Chicago too cold to consider as Super Bowl site
BY RICK TELANDER Staff Columnist February 3, 2014 9:56PM
Updated: February 3, 2014 10:03PM
NEW YORK — To those Chicagoans who are clamoring for a “cold weather’’ Super Bowl to call our own, calm down.
I would like you to look out my hotel window Monday afternoon near Times Square and notice the snowflakes pouring down. Check out those poor mopes stepping into slush holes that might or might not have bottoms to them.
Har! There goes a lady with a baby stroller trying to drag it over a half-plowed drift!
OK, that’s not funny, but it’s illustrative of my point: The NFL lucked out gigantically by playing Super Bowl XLVIII at open-air MetLife Stadium on Sunday and not a day later.
And not a couple weeks before, when it was cold enough in New York and New Jersey to freeze rat whiskers.
Can you imagine if Chicago actually had been awarded the Super Bowl and it had been held, let’s say, Jan. 6, when it hit 16 below zero in town, with a wind chill somewhere around minus-30? Now that would have been special. And insane.
How about if the game somehow had been held at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve (my birthday, by the way), 1983, when the temperature dipped to 23 below and there was a wind chill — as then calculated — of a record 82 below zero?
Now that is hilarity! Let’s say a warm-weather team such as the then-Los Angeles Raiders had been involved (which they were, but the Super Bowl was in Tampa, Fla.). I could envision a totally wasted Raiders fan, in Darth Vader mask and silver chains, found several weeks later, frozen in a sitting position, metal mesh still clanking in the Lake Michigan wind, like a cement gargoyle on a stoop.
Every Northern or quasi-Northern NFL city now wants the Super Bowl because the rule about a 50-degree minimum average temperature for the date was waived by the league to give the game to East Rutherford, N.J., home of the Giants and Jets.
Why did the waiver occur? Because the Giants and Jets were good boys and built a new stadium. Built a big one — 82,550 capacity. Big is as critical as new to the NFL.
Consider: Tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII ranged from $500 to $2,500 at face value. Thus, an extra 10,000 seats could be worth $10 million or so to the league.
You hear that, Chicago?
Hate to rain, excuse me — sleet, snow and drift — on your Super Bowl dreams, but maybe somebody could have spoken to then-Mayor Richard Daley and the rubber-stamp City Council and dozing Chicago Park District about the renovation plans for Soldier Field back around 2000.
What came out of the 2003 refurbishing was a tiny — 61,500 capacity — alien toilet seat dropped inside concrete columns that held nostalgia for a few people who remembered tractor pulls and track meets once convened within. No roof, no room, no good.
Soldier Field is the second-smallest outdoor NFL stadium. The only smaller one is the thing called O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., which keeps reducing its size to avoid empty seats and league-mandated TV blackouts. Someday, one expects O.co Coliseum, or whatever it will be called then, to disappear into terminal density and become a genuine black hole.
At any rate, there is no way Soldier Field as presently constructed will get a Super Bowl. Commissioner Roger Goodell might have married a woman from suburban Chicago, but the man whose salary is $30 million a year is not a sentimental dude.
Washington wants a Super Bowl. So does Boston and Philadelphia and, we hear, Denver.
The next three years go to Glendale, Ariz., the San Francisco area and Houston. For 2018, there are three contenders — Indianapolis (barf), Minneapolis (gag) and New Orleans (yay!). We’ll see what happens.
New York is so giddy with its lucky weather bull’s-eye — a balmy 49 degrees, clear skies, 48-degree wind chill at kickoff — that it wants the game back.
“For years to come, young people, men and women will feel this game was important for the region,’’ Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch gushed before the game even was held. “Let’s try to do this once every 10 years.’’
How does once this century sound, Chicago? I don’t know how to do it, but great God almighty there already have been two Super Bowls held in the shrinking junkyard known as Detroit.
There has been one in Minneapolis, where I recall the highlight of game week was watching a man sculpt a large fish out of ice with a chainsaw.
Who knows, folks? If the right stadium won’t do it, maybe global warming is our best chance.
If all those NFL cities would just sink into the sea …