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Cold-Weather Super Bowl? Why Not Green Bay?

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 7: A Packers fan yells as he celebrates a touchdown during the game between the Green Bay Packers against the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field on December 7, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Ravens 27-17. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Tim SeemanAnalyst IMay 26, 2010

 

In a move as significant as the NFL-AFL merger, the inception of free agency and Brett Favre's recent ankle surgery, the NFL owners voted Tuesday to send the Big Game to the Big Apple in 2014.

All right, so maybe it isn't quite that big of a deal, but it's true: Super Bowl XLVIII will be played outdoors in the New York City metro area at New Meadowlands Stadium, the new home of the Jets and Giants.

With the move, the owners are breaking the warm-weather and domed stadium precedent of all 44 Super Bowls played thus far, and I couldn't be happier about it.

As great as professional football is, it's always a little bit better when inclement weather gets involved. The game becomes even more unpredictable and the players have to sharpen their focus more than usual in order to perform the way they want.

Leaping catches and precision passes are impressive enough, but those kinds of plays become almost other-worldly when players make them in howling winds, frigid temperatures, and flying precipitation. Cold-weather feats are the things of legend. Who would care about climbing Everest if it was a sunny 70 degrees at the summit?

The broken precedent also brings several untapped markets into the fold to hold a Super Bowl. Pittsburgh, Chicago, Seattle, and Philadelphia would all make great host cities for future Super Bowls, but the one place the league needs to play the Super Bowl now that cold-weather cities are invited to the party is Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Any discussion about Green Bay as a Super Bowl host starts and ends with history. Lambeau Field is to football what Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are to baseball. Except Lambeau isn't crumbling under the weight of its decades of existence. In fact, it's one of the most modern venues in the league thanks to extensive renovations inside and out in 2003. The original bleachers remain, but that's part of the stadium's charm.

Having a Super Bowl in Green Bay would be a football purist's dream. The Packer Hall of Fame is one of the best in all of sports, and seeing the names and championship years immortalized on the ring of honor is akin to strolling through Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

Detractors of a Green Bay Super Bowl point out the city's size, which is a concern, but Milwaukee, Madison, and summer resorts in Door County and the Wisconsin Dells aren't far away. There'd be plenty of vacant rooms in these tourist traps in January and February.

Some are also worried that playing the Super Bowl in such an extreme environment would alienate many casual fans and eliminate a lot of the parties that take place in the week leading up to the game. That would be fine with me. I really don't need Ryan Seacrest interviewing Hugh Laurie on the Super Bowl red carpet about the fact that Laurie had never seen an American football game before. Man, I wish I could say I had made that last sentence up, but it actually happened.

Super Bowl Week should be about football, and for my money, there's nothing that says football more than Green Bay and cold weather. As George Carlin once said: “Football is played in any kind of weather. Rain, sleet, snow, hail, mud, can't read the numbers on the field, can't read the yard markers, can't read the players numbers. The struggle will continue.”

I wouldn't have it any other way.

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