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Kragthorpe: Time to change subject from Super Bowl weather

Published January 31, 2014 4:51 pm

NFL • NFL lucky this time, but future games need to be played in warmer, or indoor locale
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Well, that was a lot of wasted ink.

Discussion of the weather dominated the buildup to Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII, only to have a weird phenomenon occur this weekend. A snowstorm will skirt New Jersey, where the predicted high Sunday is 49 degrees. The temperature will be colder by kickoff time in the darkness, but the conditions will be much more pleasant than anyone anticipated, even as recently as last week.

How did this happen? Just when the wonderfully named Winter Storm Maximus was positioned to become the backdrop to an event identified by Roman numerals, a solar vortex apparently will strike the Super Bowl.

This news is causing mixed reactions. It's a relief to those who hope to witness a great football game, not disrupted by adverse weather conditions. It's empowering to NFL administrators who may reward future Super Bowls to other cold-weather teams that build new stadiums. It's disappointing to fans who would have enjoyed seeing something as strange as snow in a Super Bowl, while watching from their couches.

Regardless, playing football in New Jersey in February is a bad idea. The NFL got away with it this time, but this Super Bowl could have been miserable for everybody involved. And I'm not just saying that as someone who would have been seated outside in the auxiliary press box, if the circumstances had enabled me to stay and cover the game after doing Media Day interviews this week.

The Super Bowl is supposed to be the one game that's not decided by home-field advantage, which often has to do with the weather. Having the higher-seeded team host the conference championship makes sense, rewarding regular-season performance with a favorable atmosphere.

But if the Super Bowl is going to be played at a neutral site — although there's always the potential for a host team to qualify — it should be held indoors or at some other stadium where weather is not a factor. Sure, anything can go wrong anywhere, as the power outage in New Orleans last year illustrated, but why risk having a variable like the weather overwhelm the biggest sporting event in America?

I'll contradict myself to some degree by saying I like Major League Soccer's move to a home site for the MLS Cup final. The season is so interminable that rewarding the team with the better record is vital to sustaining interest in the league, and MLS needs the kind of environment that only a home crowd can produce. Even if it was horribly cold in the Kansas City area in December when Real Salt Lake played for the title — and, admittedly, I was seated indoors — the event was great for the league.

The NFL is different, and the Super Bowl is a television production. Actually, in the Super Bowls I've attended, I've been impressed by the number of genuine fans who manage to secure tickets and travel to support their teams. The atmosphere is not as corporate-driven and subdued as you might believe, because of the volume of fans on both sides.

If anybody deserved to have good weather this weekend, the fans coming from Seattle and Denver did. They've spent too much money to be miserable for five or six hours, counting the time it takes to get through security and into the seats long before kickoff at a Super Bowl.

As it turns out, the NFL got lucky. I would hope league officials realize that, and so should administrators of the College Football Playoff, as they consider sites for their championship games.

The good news that there will be no weather-related conversations about the Super Bowl between now and next February's game in suburban Phoenix, where Sunday's forecast is 66 degrees — and the stadium's design includes a retractable roof.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt