SBJ/Jan. 6-12, 2014/Super Bowl

Forecast: Blizzard of plans

With snow in play, it’s all on the table

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Even if the weather on Feb. 2 is frightful for the first cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl, the NFL is undeterred about the decision to host the game at MetLife Stadium.

“Watching NFL football in the snow is really romantic,” said Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of events for the NFL, sharing a sentiment echoed by many who feel the aesthetics of a snowy Super Bowl would make for a vibrant TV offering. “I think it will be better if it snowed a little bit during the game. I think it will be much more memorable.”

The league is prepared, though, with various contingencies in the event of severe weather — with everything on the table from moving the game forward a day to delaying it a week.

Any change to the 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff time, however, could potentially doom not just another New York-area Super Bowl but also other outdoor cold-weather sites like Denver, which has been eyeing a bid.

Atlanta, for example, has never recovered from the ice storms that bedeviled the last Super Bowl there, in 2000. The area lost soundly on two future Super Bowl bids even though the actual contest at the Georgia Dome that year proceeded on schedule. The snow mess in Dallas for the 2011 Super Bowl is still clearly top of mind, as well. While that game also proceeded as scheduled, Dallas did not make the final cut of bidders for the Super Bowl in 2018.

New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Al Kelly and others close to the group have said publicly that their hope is to host the game once a decade. It’s hard to see that happening if the game is rescheduled.

If next month’s game is not rescheduled but inclement weather does arrive, there are few regions better suited to handle snow and ice.

“From our experience managing transportation at that stadium, dealing with large snowfalls out there, the state coupled with the sports authority always has done a great job clearing the snow,” said Roy Fugazy, whose eponymous firm handles car services for major sporting events, as it will for this year’s Super Bowl host committee.

Fugazy is planning to spread the 275 vehicles he will use Super Bowl Sunday around the region in the week before, to ensure they are not snowbound if a major storm hits in the hours or days before the game.

Within a 30-mile radius of MetLife Stadium, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will stockpile 60,000 tons of salt, and statewide the figures will hit 220,000. In that 30-mile radius, there are 821 trucks to plow snow, with 2,400 available statewide.

New Jersey will also be the host for this year’s Super Bowl Media Day, in Newark at the Prudential Center on the Tuesday before the game. The two team hotels will be in the Garden State, as well.

Willitsnow.com monitors the Feb. 2 forecast, and most experts say “No” to snow.
At MetLife Stadium itself, snow melters will be deployed in the parking lot, and 1,600 staff will be at the ready to clear the seats and aisles of any snow if it were to fall before the game.

“If you look at the history of Giants Stadium as well as every year of MetLife Stadium, we have played every game that is scheduled on the day it is scheduled,” said Brad Mayne, the stadium’s CEO, speaking at a weather media briefing last month. Giants Stadium opened in 1976 and was replaced by MetLife Stadium in 2010.

Within New York City, where the NFL is based and the 13-block-long Super Bowl Boulevard will set up shop on Broadway from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, the city will have 6,000 sanitation workers ready to clear snow. The city boasts 440 salt spreaders, 2,000 portable garbage trucks, 36 snow melters and a 263,500-ton stockpile of salt.

Of course, all the planning could be for naught if a massive blizzard arrives, or it could be fully superfluous if the weather is unseasonably warm. That’s what occurred two years ago in Indianapolis, when coats were barely necessary despite it being February in Indiana. Indianapolis, which has a roof for its stadium, is now one of the three finalists bidding for the 2018 Super Bowl. The others are New Orleans and Minneapolis, where the Vikings are building a new stadium with a roof.

As for this year, the weather watching and forecasting — including AccuWeather’s WillItSnow.com, a site dedicated exclusively to the Super Bowl weather outlook — will continue.

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