The Super Bowl that never sleeps
Posted January 31
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., was awarded Super Bowl XLVIII, the masses lost their collective thermals over the potential for sub-zero temperatures and mountains of snow piling up all over the tri-state area.
Of course, one glance at the forecast for Super Bowl Sunday tells us that the best guess a couple of days out from kickoff is that daytime highs will climb to 50 degrees and there will be a 10 percent chance of rain. That's a far cry from the thoughts of a deep freeze and even deeper snow that paralyzed the football-frenzied masses those many moons ago.
That's not to say that bringing the NFL's premiere event to an open-air stadium in (the shadows of) New York City isn't a risky proposition. Obviously, the chances of extreme cold and highly uncomfortable weather are greater in the Northeast in February than they are in Southern California, Arizona or south Florida.
But the Super Bowl is more than just a championship-deciding football game. This is the NFL's chance to showcase itself, its reach, its power, on the global sporting public. More than 5,000 media credentials were issued by the league, as almost every industrialized nation will be represented by some form of traditional or new media.
And not all of them are going to the game.
In fact, most of the people here aren't going to the game either. The large majority of those here in New York are selling something, from pizza to substance abuse treatment to Bill Romanowski's Nutrition53 line of scientifically balanced meal replacements, and those folks need something to do other than the game.
To that end, let me illustrate why New York City is a perfect place for this event.
Beginning with the Sunday prior to the game, there were no less than 16 major sporting events or concerts scheduled for the city. If you're into basketball, the Knicks were home all week long, hosting the Lakers, Celtics and Cavaliers before welcoming in LeBron James and the Miami Heat the night before Super Bowl XLVIII. Meanwhile, the Nets were in action at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn twice, including Friday night's game against Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder.
If hockey is your thing, there were two – yes TWO – outdoor games to draw your attention. Yankee Stadium hosted the Rangers and Devils on Sunday before New York returned three nights later to take on the Islanders. There also was Big East basketball, championship boxing and a 30-minute question and answer session with noted celebrity cat Lil Bub.
And, just in case you're wondering how one goes about becoming a 'noted celebrity cat,' all I can say is that if you don't already know, there's no earthly way I'd be able to explain it to you. However, had you seen the crush of humanity around Discovery Place in Times Square, you'd understand the drawing power.
If music is your thing, Madison Square Garden's "newest franchise," Billy Joel, played to a sellout crowd on Monday, Keith Urban did the same on Wednesday and TLC was Crazy Sexy Cool in the city on Thursday. There were museums, Radio City Music Hall, tickets to the Daily Show, ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza shopping – window or otherwise – on 5th Avenue, and more great restaurants than there are stars in the sky, all at your disposal.
And if you happen to be sticking around for another day after the Seahawks and Broncos have settled things over in Jersey, Billy Joel is back for his third Garden Party in the last four and a half weeks.
Not to disparage other Super Bowl host cities, but throw in the dozens of celebrity-laden parties, and short of having the game in Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, there's more to do in one day here than there was in an entire week in New Orleans, or Indianapolis, or Phoenix – maybe even combined.
Would it be better if the stadium had a roof that could slide into place so as to protect the fans from the harsh elements that often accompany the onset of February in the northeast? Of course.
But football was meant to be played in the elements, and it's rained in Super Bowls before. Even the city of Dallas, deep in the heart of Texas, was pulverized by an ice storm three years ago when the Packers beat the Steelers. Speaking of ice storms, how would this week have gone in a city like Atlanta, where a mere 2 inches of snow rendered motorists stranded for almost 24 hours and the entire area incapacitated?
Weather is unpredictable. We certainly hope that the forecast holds and the temperatures are as mild as possible at game time so the players can perform to the best of their abilities and the fans can enjoy the Super Bowl experience without the risk of frostbite. But the Super Bowl has really become a Super Week.
And, in my view, there's no better place to stage this festival of fun and football than in the city that never sleeps.
Heck, who can sleep when there's so much going on, anyway.