As if the Super Bowl didn’t already generate enough hype, America this week will be subjected to seven days of hysteria over the weather for the NFL championship game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
The 48th Super Bowl, as every sports fan knows by now, will be the first outdoors at a cold-weather site when it kicks off at 6:25 p.m. next Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., 6 miles east of Manhattan.
Will a snowstorm force the game to be moved to Saturday or Monday? Will the game plans be affected? Will snow cause massive traffic jams? Will the quarterbacks’ passes flutter in the wind? Meteorologists nationwide are in their glory.
For the record, the early forecasts for game day call for a high temperature of 35, a low of 26, a 30-percent chance of snow and winds at a mild 8 mph. No blizzard in sight. The odds of the NFL being forced to change the date of the game are minuscule. But forecasts can change. Brace yourselves for the latest, breathless updates.
The NFL is reveling in the attention.
“We’re an outdoors sport playing outdoors and people are saying, ‘Well, I don’t know about that,’ ” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “This is what we’re all about. I actually think the teams are excited about it. We’re proud of what we’re about to accomplish.”
“I think a little bit of snow during the game would make it all that much more historical and all that much more romantic and all that much more competitive and fun and all that much more visual,” said Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of events for the NFL. “There is nothing wrong with a little bit of snow during Super Bowl XLVIII.”
It seems certain to be the coldest Super Bowl ever. The previous record for coldest Super Bowl was 39 degrees in New Orleans in 1972, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins.
In pitching the game to NFL owners four years ago, New York City organizers convinced the league to waive its rule requiring the Super Bowl site to have an average high temperature of 50 degrees on game day. New York’s Giants and Jets had just built a $1.6 billion stadium. The New York organizers showed the NFL owners video clips from historic cold games, including New England’s snow-filled playoff win over Oakland in January 2002. It took four rounds of voting, but New York beat out Tampa and Miami for the game.
It should make for good television.
About 165 million television viewers are expected for the game. FOX has sold out its advertising time for the broadcast, charging an average of $4 million for 30-second commercials.
And there is a good matchup, pitting for the first time ever the team that ranked No. 1 in both scoring and yards gained (Denver) against the team that allowed both the fewest points and the fewest yards (Seattle).
Denver is in the big game for the seventh time and is bidding to win its third Super Bowl. Seattle lost its only other Super Bowl appearance. Denver’s Peyton Manning can become the first man to quarterback two different teams to Super Bowl titles. It’s the first time since 1995 that two teams from west of the Mississippi are in the title game.
Denver is a 2½-point favorite.
New York is rolling out the red carpet. For the first time ever, 13 blocks of Broadway, in the heart of Manhattan, will be shut down to traffic over four days so that the NFL can stage a Super Bowl festival. More than 1 million people are expected to pass through what’s dubbed as “Super Bowl Boulevard.”
It includes a toboggan run that is 58-feet high and 180-feet long and stretches over two blocks. NFL films will be shown on the side of Macy’s Herald Square store, and the area will include restaurants, television studio sets and many interactive attractions.
NFL officials have called the week of events the biggest logistical challenge it has faced for the Super Bowl.
Police presence will be heavy, with helicopters sensing for radiation on the ground, trained dog teams and lots of uniformed patrols.
The two teams are staying across the Hudson River in Jersey City, N.J.
New Jersey’s department of transportation has more than 16,000 workers, 2,400 trucks and dozens of snow-melting machines ready to clear the roadways in the days leading up to the game.
The field at MetLife Stadium will be covered and kept warm with blowers under the tarp. If it snows during the game, field workers will try to ensure the yard lines are clear, just like a game at any cold-weather site.
If all goes well, expect other big cities with cold climates – like Chicago and Washington – to want to get in on the Super Bowl act. The sites for the next three Super Bowls are set – for Arizona in 2015, San Francisco in 2016 and Houston in 2017.
How about a Buffalo Super Bowl? Not going to happen. Among the many reasons are a city needs to have roughly 25,000 “quality” hotel rooms in its metropolitan area to bid for the game. Erie County has roughly 9,000.