The Super Bowl’s Russian Roulette
The Polar Vortex shows us that the Big Game shouldn’t be hosted in northern cities.
As I write this on Wednesday morning, January 30, 2019, the Polar Vortex is causing wind chills as low as -40 in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Indianapolis. The weather is so dangerously cold that schools are closed in those cities.
The Twin Cities area and the Detroit area have each hosted two Super Bowls. Indianapolis has hosted one. The New York City area, which will see wind chills in the negative teens today, has also hosted a Super Bowl.
Through 2024, host cities for the Super Bowl have been selected and, fortunately, they’re all in warm climates.
But I strongly urge NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners who vote on future host cities to remember Polar Vortex of 2019. It’s true that the cities mentioned above, aside from New York (actually East Rutherford, NJ), have domed stadiums. But can you imagine Super Bowl Week in a city that’s mostly shut down because of the cold?
It’s true that weather this cold is somewhat rare in those cities, but it often comes close, or the snowfall is a hindrance. On the day of Super Bowl XVI, played in Pontiac, Michigan near Detroit, bad weather caused a 49ers team bus to fall behind schedule before the game.
A New York Super Bowl played outdoors in cold like today also wouldn’t be out of the question if that area was chosen again. The dangerous and bitter makes for lower quality of play as neither team will be at their best.
To say “but football was meant to be played in the elements” is to ignore history. It was originally played by college students over eight or nine weeks from early October to late November. It was a fall sport, and only the profit motive caused the NFL to play through January and into February.
The NFL has wisely never voted for Denver, Kansas City, Green Bay, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Buffalo, or Foxborough, MA (home of the Patriots) to host the Super Bowl. Not even D.C., Baltimore, and Nashville, which all would risk icy or snowy weather on Game Day or the week leading up to it.
One may object that the Miami area also once received snowfall. Yes, that’s an acceptable risk. Hosting the Super Bowl again in a northern city is like Russian Roulette, and the trigger’s already been pulled six times.
There is no upside in playing the Super Bowl in northern cities. Warmer climates create a better experience for fans and players. Missing out on events like the Super Bowl is a drawback of choosing to live in the north. So is being unable to lie in the sun in your swimsuit. It’s nothing anyone can reasonably complain about.