Super Bowl XLVIII at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium is still 355 days away, but that hasn’t stopped the NFL from beginning to devise a contingency plan should the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl be adversely affected by a mammoth blizzard, much like the Northeast was just a few days ago.
Is it too early for the NFL to be worrying about this? I’d argue it’s actually too late. Way too late. Contingency plans for Super Bowl XLVIII should have been talked about in May 2010 when East Rutherford was awarded the game. At the very least, it should’ve been mentioned some time in the winter of 2010-11, as the Northeast was getting pummeled with snow on an almost daily basis. A mild winter last year apparently subsided all panic, and while we don’t know what hand climate change will deal us on Feb. 2, 2014, it shouldn’t have come to Winter Storm Nemo to set the league into panic mode.
That having been said, it’s a good thing they’ve started talking about this at all. The media and the league have been beating around the bush since the landmark decision to award MetLife Stadium the game, so it’s a good thing they’ve finally come to their senses and realized that it does no good to talk about how miserable it would be for everyone involved if a blizzard happened the day of the Super Bowl if they won’t actually conjure up a plan to combat it.
And the planning isn’t so easy. The league needs to be ready for bad conditions before, during or after the game, as each scenario would obviously call for a different reaction. As for actual ideas that have been tossed into the ring, the league isn’t ready to comment about specifics so far in advance of the game, according to an email they sent ESPN New York, but they are “exploring the possibility” of moving the game up to Saturday, or back a few days.
Some would argue a permanent Super Bowl Saturday is already a terrific idea, which of course, it is. The biggest concern, which would probably be TV ratings, would realistically not be an issue at all as long as the game is over a weekend. People will still watch the Super Bowl. They will come out in droves to watch it much more than they watch any other program on television. The buffer day before the work week is the obvious perk, and should the game be bumped to Saturday, it only helps viewers who won’t have to get up for work the next day.
A midweek Super Bowl, however, would be a disaster. Considering the wrench our hypothetical storm will already throw into the travel plans of the hundreds of thousands of people who will flock to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl, pushing it back a few days, instead of up one day, would be a grave mistake. Not to mention, viewership could very well go down midweek. People will be less inclined to congregate and throw parties in the middle of a work week, and without parties and the whole Americana appeal of the game, the millions of people who watch the game that don’t give a care in the world about football, will not watch the game. Not even for the commercials, because you can find all that jazz on the internet nowadays anyway.
Regardless, the NFL would have to approach this extremely tactfully in any case — and I mean as tactfully as anything has ever been done, ever — if it means to make the first cold-weather Super Bowl not a total and complete sh*t-stained failure. The fickle nature of weather might have already dug the NFL into a hole too deep, one it wouldn’t have been in if it didn’t give New York a Super Bowl in the first place. It wasn’t necessarily a bad idea — it’s still way too soon to tell. But maybe, just maybe, it required a little more thought.
[ESPN NY, Getty Images]