NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovitz said the league has contingency plans to delay Super Bowl XLVIII, scheduled for Feb. 2, as much as a week due to weather-related issues. Speaking yesterday after a press briefing in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium to tout the region’s preparedness for staging the NFL’s first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl, Supovitz called the chances of a week-long delay “infinitesimal," describing a Hurricane Sandy-type situation as the spark for such a lengthy postponement. The league is also looking at delays of a just a few hours to a day or two depending on weather. Supovitz said the NFL would consider holding the event a day early if the weather forecast determined that was the best route. He added that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would make a final decision. Supovitz said the league is in discussions with Fox, this year’s broadcaster, on programming options in the event of a time change. Such discussions have occurred for previous Super Bowls, but those were not as pointed and serious as the current talks (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).
DETAILS ON THE PLANS: Supovitz said that just prior to the game, the field "will be covered by a tarp and the field will be kept warm with blowers under the tarp." In N.Y., Gary Myers reports if it snows during the game, "priority will be given to make sure the yard lines are clear but the field will not be cleared during an offensive drive behind the defense because that would create a competitive advantage for the offense." This is the "same protocol followed for every game." Supovitz: "A little bit of snow during the game would make it all that much more historical and all that much more romantic and all that much more competitive and fun and all that much more visual. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of snow during Super Bowl XLVIII" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/19). Supovitz said that any schedule change "would be made 'as late as possible' and would factor in both the fans’ ability to get to the game safely as well as an expected television audience of about 160 million." But Supovitz and others associated with staging the game insisted that more than a "year of contingency planning makes such an adjustment extremely unlikely" (Bergen RECORD, 12/19).
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO POSTPONE? CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson wrote it "would have to be a MASSIVE snowstorm to keep the Super Bowl from being played on the biggest stage" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/18). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Myers writes any movement off Feb. 2 is "going to force some serious scrambling and some serious second-guessing of the NFL for awarding the Giants and Jets the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl if game day has to be switched" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/19). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Josh Dawsey reported that "if needed, 440 salt spreaders, six plows and 30 front-end loader tractors are available to clear the stadium parking lot," and more than 1,000 workers "will be involved." Chutes are "ready to move snow from the stadium's seats." The Aero snow melter, which melts 600 tons of snow an hour, also will be "in place" (WSJ.com, 12/18). In N.Y., James Barron writes this Super Bowl is "not just fighting the forecast for Feb. 2," but also "fighting memories of past Super Bowls that had to cope with snow -- even though the games themselves were played in the snow-free warmth of covered stadiums." Super Bowl Host Committee President & CEO Al Kelly said, "There have been so many questions about the weather that I think we want to make sure that the national audience certainly knows that this region has tremendous assets and resources and knows how to get this done. We keep the markets open every day and the schools open most days, and we’ll do a good job Super Bowl week as well" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/19).
A PLAYER WEIGHS IN: Seahawks CB Richard Sherman in a special to THE MMQB wrote, "I still think hosting a Super Bowl in New Jersey is a big mistake." Sherman: "I saw the early portions of the Detroit-Philadelphia game in Week 14. It wasn’t much to watch. The offensive and defensive lines were moving in slow motion. The receivers and defensive backs were slipping around the field." Snow "happens, and that’s fine for a regular-season game or even an AFC or NFC Championship Game." A team in a cold-weather city "can and should earn the right to host a game in conditions it’s familiar with." But the Super Bowl host city "is decided years in advance, and the game is supposed to be played on a neutral site." It is the league's "responsibility to show its audience the best possible product, and this can’t happen in the snow." Sherman: "And don’t tell me it’s New York’s turn, with their newish stadium. Seattle’s stadium has been around since 2002 and we’d be a great host" (MMQB.SI.com, 12/18).
EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN: In Newark, Steve Politi writes under the header, "Snow At The Super Bowl Should Be Embraced, Not Feared." The Super Bowl "is not just a football game," but rather, "above everything else, a television show." Snow "might make it the most-watched television show ever," as people "will tune in for the spectacle alone" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/19).