Yes, the 2014 Super Bowl will be at the Meadowlands, and the two teams playing won’t get nearly as much attention during the buildup as the weather forecast.
Weather has played a large part in NFL regular season games and even playoff games, but by and large the choice of Super Bowl locations has served to minimize the weather factor. There have been a few Super Bowls where rain has come into play, but more often than not we’re talking about a game in a dome or a temperate climate.
I agree with Pat Forde and others who say that this is how it should be. Football is no more a cold-weather sport than it is a broiling-sun-of-September sport. Waxing nostalgic about the Frozen Tundra or the Ice Bowl is a nice way of saying that weather, rather than the players on the field, was the story of the game. We can put up with that en route to the Big Game, but the star of the Super Bowl itself needs to be Brady or Manning or Brees and not Jim Cantore.
This is one thing the SEC gets right – weather has never been a concern for the SEC Championship since the game moved from Birmingham to the Georgia Dome. It’s going to take a tornado to make the biggest game in the nation’s premiere conference anything but a test of elite coaches and players. The Dome has helped the conference showcase its best teams in ideal conditions, and it’s also allowed the associated Chick-fil-A Bowl to become about as successful as a second-tier bowl game can.
The future of the SEC Championship came up a week or so ago when Atlanta Falcons officials stated a preference for a new open-air stadium in downtown Atlanta. A new stadium wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the Dome, but the management of two large facilities could reasonably strain resources. A Georgia Dome in disrepair might not remain the ideal location for the SEC Championship, and everyone from the Superdome to open-air facilities across the Southeast would be lining up to host the game.
Falcons officials might or might not care about the future of events like the SEC title game, but anyone involved with Atlanta government or sports management should. Had the Falcons pursued an open-air stadium rather than a dome to replace Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta would have missed out on the Olympics, several Final Fours and conference tournaments, and it might not enjoy its exclusivity with the SEC football championship.
If public money and oversight is going to be involved in any new stadium for the Falcons, state and city officials can’t accept anything less than a multi-use facility with a retractable roof. Tony Barnhart nails it:
A big part of what has made the SEC championship game one of the great success stories in sport is that weather is not a factor. Weather has been a factor for the Big 12 and the ACC and the results on those championship games has been mixed at best. The SEC, in my opinion, will not play this game in an open air stadium…. My recommendation: Do exactly what Indy did. It kept the RCA Dome in place and built Lucas Oil Stadium right next to it. The transition was pretty seamless and now Indy has one of the best setups in the country. If there is a Big Ten championship game in the future, it’s a pretty good bet that it will be in Indy.
A city like New York might be able to get away with hosting a Super Bowl in its open-air stadium, but even that’s controversial. New stadiums in Phoenix and Dallas have raised the bar in attracting prime sporting events. If future SEC expansion does end up including schools like Texas and/or Texas A&M, Dallas would instantly become a rival to host SEC events that by default have gone to Atlanta. Barnhart’s suggestion is the blueprint for Atlanta remaining the focal point, if not the headquarters, of the SEC.