Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unlike the New Meadowlands, Gillette Stadium will not get a Super Bowl

AP Photo/Victoria Arocho

The biggest news in the NFL this week has been that the 2014 Super Bowl will be played at New Meadowlands Stadium, the brand-new, $1.6 billion home of the New York Giants and Jets.

Not only did it make headlines because it will be played in the New York media market for the first time (the stadium is actually in East Rutherford, NJ), it also marks the first time the Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a cold weather city.

With New York having such a strong sports rivalry with Boston, Patriots fans were left saying, “Why not Gillette?”

While many—even Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft himself—agree that a Super Bowl in New York would be a special event, the Bostonians believe that if it’s successful they should be able to host it as well.

Quite frankly, though, it just is not a realistic expectation.

The first problem is the sheer size of the stadiums. Gillette has a large capacity of 68,756. However, the New Meadowlands seats nearly 14,000 more people. That results in a higher sold-out crowd, which means more money for the league.

As new stadiums are being built, more seats are being put in. Cowboys Stadium, which will host the 2010 Super Bowl, seats 80,000 (although the record attendance is 105,121). Gillette is nine years old and although modifications can be made, like the new scoreboards that are being put in the end zones, the stadium is at a disadvantage.

Tied into the stadium is the infrastructure of the area. Gillette Stadium isn’t in Boston; it’s in Foxborough. There is only one road to get there, an absolute scarcity of available parking, and only one way to get out of the stadium. Public transportation out to Foxborough is not nearly as strong as from New York City to the Meadowlands.

The massive traffic problems would not be a pretty sight.

Simple geography also plays a role in not being awarded a Super Bowl. The biggest argument against New York was the cold weather and potential for snow. Boston is even farther north of New York, which would mean even colder temperatures and greater potential for larger snowfalls.

Also, the history of the Super Bowl goes against New England. Forty-seven Super Bowls will have been played before the 2014 becomes the first cold weather Super Bowl played outdoors.

The New York game will not be the start of a trend; rather, it will be an oddity, a spectacle, an event billed as once-in-a-lifetime.

While football is an all-weather sport and watching a game in the snow is appealing to the fans’ eyes, the big argument is that weather should not be a variable in the most important game of the year.

The players expect Super Bowl conditions to be ideal. Wide receivers don’t want to catch rock-hard footballs. Kickers don’t want a potential game-winning or tying field goal to get pushed wide because of the wind. Warm weather teams would be at a strong disadvantage, and snowy conditions favor teams with a strong running game, which would leave pass-happy teams, much like the Pats, to alter their game plan.

It is reasonable to expect a lot of excuses about the weather from the players (especially from the losing team) and the media.

The 2014 Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands will be all about the experience. It’s bigger, more glamorous, and provides some controversy as well. It won’t be redone anytime soon, and certainly not at Gillette.

Sorry Boston, but New York will be the sole winner of this round in the rivalry.

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