The cold reality of Super Bowl XLVIII
Fans in the stands at Super Bowls past only think they’ve seen it all.
They’ve been sun-burned in Los Angeles, soaked in Miami and buffeted by winds at stops in between. Deafened during flyovers. Titillated at halftime, blacked out mid-game and even moved to tears by tributes to servicemen, veterans and the victims of 9/11.
Even so, Super Bowl XLVIII promises those in attendance something different: The chance to freeze their rear ends off.
On Feb. 2, 2014 — the date could still be changed if a Nor’easter rolls in off the Jersey Shore — every one of the 82,000 or so ticketholders entering MetLife Stadium will receive a gift bag. Inside are a seat cushion, muffler, ski gaiters, three pairs of hand- and foot-warmers, lip balm and a package of tissues, plastered with enough logos to make a NASCAR driver jealous.
The Super Bowl has been played in northern cities four times before — inside climate-controlled domes — but never outdoors. The average daily low for East Rutherford, N.J., in early February is 22 degrees, with temperatures typically falling throughout the night, when the game will be played. Snow, wind and rain, or all three at once, is not out of the question. Exactly how much protection all that swag provides against Mother Nature’s wrath remains to be seen.
“We can’t provide them with coats,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s vice president in charge of preparations for the game. “But we will be strongly encouraging them to stay in their seats.”
Which begs the question: If the game is for the fans, why stage it outdoors in the New Jersey-New York metro area precisely when the trusty Farmer’s Almanac, hardly alone among forecasters, is predicting a blizzard? Money. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his owners are taking advantage of a lull in the tourism calendar to turn a swath of Manhattan into a playground and make cash registers sing. A 180 foottall toboggan slide will be plopped down in Times Square, and a stretch of Broadway from 34th Street to 48th will be closed to traffic, renamed “Super Bowl Boulevard,” and converted into a rollicking theme park, merchandise shop and concert venue called the “NFL Experience.”