Playing Super Bowl in Chicago would be ridiculous
RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com February 2, 2011 12:10AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
DALLAS — Right now, the grassy knoll is the frosty knoll.
The streets are ribbons of thick ice. Road salt? You’re more likely to find a leather-skinned cowboy asking about vegan options at a restaurant. Semis that couldn’t make it up highway off-ramps sit abandoned.
These people have no idea how to handle our kind of winter weather.
But at least their football stadium has a retractable roof.
The same can’t be said of Soldier Field, which is open to the elements and capable of collecting snow and frostbitten souls in bulk. But that hasn’t stopped Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico from pushing the city as a future Super Bowl site.
If you Chicagoans look out your windows, you might notice what appears to be winter in the grip of a mutant growth spurt. I’m told a blizzard blew through there. I’d be gloating about that if there weren’t an inch of ice on the ground here and the wind chill weren’t at 0. (Dallas is supposed to be warm, right? Yes, and the S.S. Minnow was supposed to be on a three-hour tour.)
Imagine if Chicago were awarded the 2016 Super Bowl and two feet of snow showed up the day of the game. Disastrous? That’s probably a bit strong. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Thirty-two teams each play a 16-game schedule and eventually whittle themselves down to two finalists through natural selection. And then they have to play in snow and cold to decide a champion?
No, the whole idea of the Super Bowl is for the two best teams to play in the best conditions possible. And the best conditions generally can be found in Miami or San Diego or inside a dome in Indianapolis. Not Chicago, which today appears to be, climatically, the Yukon.
New York, yes; us, no
There’s a reason the NFL plays most of its Super Bowls in warm cities or cold cities with roofed stadiums. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be “warmth.’’ The Packers and Steelers will battle Sunday inside Cowboys Stadium with a cover over their heads. As it should be.
When the league awarded New Jersey the 2014 Super Bowl, it gave hope to every city that dresses in parkas and snow hats. If New York can host the big game with an open-air stadium, why can’t Chicago? There are a few reasons, but the most important is that the NFL’s offices are located in Manhattan, so the league tends to share New Yorkers’ view that New York is the center of the universe and that everything else is cosmic dust.
Where the NFL looks at Chicago and sees the potential for a party-pooping snowstorm on the day of the Super Bowl, it looks at the New Meadowlands and says, ‘‘Even if it snows, the snow is bigger and better near New York City!’’ In other words, this appears to be a one-time deal for cold-weather cities with uncapped stadiums.
Chico can’t be blamed for thinking big. He’s pushing for the economic benefits a Super Bowl purportedly brings to a city. Tourists would flock to the city. Money would flock with them.
But there’s a reason birds flock to the South in the winter: It’s cold in the North. It appears that same cold has caused a bad case of brain freeze for Chico.
There are better options
‘‘We should pursue every possible avenue to bring America’s greatest sports competition to America’s greatest sports city,’’ he said in a statement Saturday. ‘‘If New York can do it, Chicago can do it.’’
With all due respect, Mr. Chico, every avenue is clogged with snow right now.
The argument you’ll hear from the what’s-a-little-cold-and-accumulation crowd is that whatever the weather conditions might be on game day, both teams have to deal with them. It’s a level playing field, even if the field is white, they say.
But if there’s no compelling reason to play on that white, level playing field, why play on it? There are better options.
‘‘I can’t imagine playing in that,’’ Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said at media day Tuesday. ‘‘When it comes down to the Super Bowl, I’m pretty sure everyone loves warm weather. I think it should be something that everyone’s comfortable in.’’
Cowboys Stadium is as big as you’d expect a stadium to be in a state that considers football to be . . . well, if not God, then a close relative. As many as 105,000 fans are expected to jam inside the building for the game Sunday. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a retractable roof put on the stadium for the same reason he installed a monster video screen over the field: This is Texas.
The Bears didn’t have a roof put on Soldier Field, and that’s fine. The franchise is meant to play football in the elements. The Super Bowl isn’t meant to be played in frigid conditions. The Super Bowl is different, special, warm.
Did I mention warm?