Commentary

Cold reality: SB doesn't belong here

Memo to NFL: Don't award game to city where you can see your breath in February

Originally Published: February 4, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

WeatherMatthew Emmons/US PresswireYou don't see conditions like this in Miami, San Diego, New Orleans, Tampa and Phoenix in February.
DALLAS DULUTH, Minn. -- It's so miserably icy and snowy here at the NFL's Winter XLV Games that the halftime entertainment has changed its name to the Frozen Peas. Fergie's legs are so cold that she's singing, "I've Got No Feeling."

Seriously, why are we here? Because Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones built a really big and obscenely expensive stadium? Sorry, but the Super Bowl should be a payback to the fans, not to an owner.

The Super Bowl should never be awarded to a city where you can see your breath in February. Fans want to sit by the pool, not by a space heater. They don't want to leave snowy Pittsburgh and Green Bay and come to snowy North Texas -- and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege.

For the estimated quarter of a million visitors expected here during Super Bowl XLV week, this should be the time of their lives. Instead, they must fear for their lives on city streets that aren't snow plowed and expressways with enough sheets of ice for a Pittsburgh Penguins skate-around.

Two words, Metroplex: salt trucks.

It's partly sunny with a high of 76 in Miami today. Going to be sunny and 81 there on Saturday.

Saturday's forecast for San Diego is 70 and sunny. Phoenix? Sunny and 69. Tampa? Partly sunny and 69. New Orleans? Chilly -- a high of 48 -- and sunny. But it's New Orleans, so who cares?

These are the places where the Super Bowl ought to be. In fact, always should be. Warm, inviting places. Places where you need SPF 30, not North Face gear and mittens.

Instead, we got North Texas during a Super Bowl week of ice storms, snowfalls and the lowest recorded temperature in more than 20 years. Great for the Weather Channel, bad for football fans.

Since when did the Super Bowl become the Winter Classic? And remind me again why the next Super Bowl will be in Indianapolis and two years after that, in the open-air New Meadowlands Stadium?

"I think the most important lesson is that you have to be prepared for everything," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday during his annual State of the League news conference. "North Texas was prepared if this happened. And certainly in New York, I think not only are they prepared, they're probably planning on this type of weather ... I think it's going to be a fantastic Super Bowl here, and I also think it's going to be a fantastic event in New York."

I saw cars abandoned on the sides of Dallas-area freeways. I saw semi-trucks jackknifed on freeway on-ramps. I saw cars inching along side streets and main streets. I saw people in downtown Dallas having to walk on roads because the sidewalks were covered with ice. I saw restaurants close their doors and hotels unable to heat their guests' rooms. I saw the effects of power company-ordered rolling blackouts.

So, prepared?

"I think I need to emphasize again that this is a storm that's affecting most of our country," Goodell said. "There are very few places in the country right now that aren't dealing with the aftereffects of this storm. It's an extraordinarily rare storm."

Yes, it is. So let me just mention a few of those places that aren't dealing with the aftereffects of this storm: Miami, San Diego, New Orleans, Tampa and Phoenix!

It wasn't North Texas' fault that a pair of ice and snow systems whipped through here in a single week. Everyone is doing the best they can, but this isn't exactly Snow Plow Central. And I've seen more sodium in a restaurant salt shaker than on the Metroplex streets.

"I think when we choose to play in climates where this is more likely to happen, they are very capable of dealing with these kinds of issues," Goodell said. "And we have been very comfortable playing there. We've played in Detroit. We've played in Minnesota. We'll be playing in Indianapolis next year."

Sure, the NFL is comfortable, but what about the fans? The Dallas-Fort Worth airport was shut down earlier this week because of weather. It took hours to get to the January 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome. And Atlanta (remember that Super Bowl mess in 2000?) was paralyzed because of an ice storm.

Of course, there's nothing rare about snowstorms in New York. Just ask embattled mayor Michael Bloomberg. They've been digging out of snow there for weeks. And in early February 2006, the city got hit with 26.9 inches of the stuff. In February 2003, more than 2 feet of snow fell. In early January 1996, more than 20 inches blanketed the city. Fun.

Earlier this regular season, a game in Philadelphia was postponed and rescheduled because of snow and safety-related concerns. Think the NFL would postpone a Super Bowl because of a similar situation?

For the first 15 years of its existence, the Super Bowl used to go places where you actually saw the sun. Now it goes to places where no sane person would ever visit in the dead of winter. Even the people in, say, Indy and New York, want out in February.

During Tuesday's media day at Cowboys Stadium, Steelers safety Ryan Clark shivered in his seat and pleaded for somebody to bring him a coat. The stadium roof, by the way, was closed.

"Just imagine it being in Indianapolis or New York," Clark said of the Super Bowl. "We should have just played it in Pittsburgh then."

Shhhh, Ryan. Don't give the NFL any ideas.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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