NEW YORK – With all that snow blocking roads, closing airports and even forcing a game to be postponed in Philadelphia, it’s easy to wonder how the NFL and the Big Apple would handle a blizzard in February 2014. You know, when the Super Bowl is in town.
Weather rarely has been a concern for the NFL’s extravaganza, although an ice storm crippled Atlanta 10 years ago and wreaked havoc with events for several days leading up to the game. And it did rain on the Super Bowl for the first time in January 2007 in Miami – not that it bothered Peyton Manning and the Colts any.
Still, two of the next four Super Bowl sites are in cold-weather places, Indianapolis in 2012 and outdoors at New Meadowlands Stadium in 2014, where the elements will definitely be an issue.
“We, of course, recognized that the 2014 Super Bowl would be played in winter conditions when the New York/New Jersey bid was accepted” and that a storm could hit any time in the lead up to the game, said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president for events.
“Creating a plan for staging a Super Bowl in winter weather is not reinventing the wheel. Super Bowls have often been played in cities that can experience winter storms, including Detroit, Minneapolis, and (2012) in Indianapolis.”
The difference for 2014 is obvious: no dome in New Jersey.
So keeping the field in top condition once the Jets and Giants conclude their seasons is a priority; tarps can be used to cover the surface and work can be done beneath them, all the while keeping the turf heated. Even if a snowstorm hits, maintaining the playing surface before the game begins, while challenging, is doable.
As for clearing out a foot or more of snow in the stands, well, it got done earlier this month in Minneapolis when the Vikings had to host the Bears at the University of Minnesota’s stadium after the collapse of the Metrodome roof.
The New York bid included contingency plans for dealing with inclement weather, plus such unique fan accommodations as fire pits in the parking lots, heated seat cushions and hand warmers in the stands.
Average monthly snowfall in February for Newark, which is about 15 miles from the stadium, is 8.7 inches.
“If fans want an outdoor, winter experience at a Super Bowl, they definitely could get it,” said Matt Scalora of the National Weather Service in Upton, N.Y.
The worst possible case in 2014, obviously, would be such dire conditions that the teams couldn’t get to the New York area or, on game day, to the stadium.