The cold re­al­ity of Su­per Bowl XLVIII

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY JIM LITKE

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.”

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