A Super Bowl at a cold-weather site? C'mon.
What about old reliables like Miami, or New Orleans, or San Diego? Cities everybody seems to love (and party in)?
Not this time. The league went off the board in giving new Lucas Oil Stadium a shot at hosting the big event.
Hooray to the NFL for breaking what seems like a rotation of the same, warm-weather Super Bowl sites. While all of the above-mentioned are certainly worthy, throwing a new NFL city into the mix offers not only variety, but also a different kind of excitement surrounding the title game… which got this scribe thinking, what about Green Bay? Imagine a Super Bowl played at Lambeau Field, one of the truly iconic venues in all of sports. The temperature is in the teens, maybe even single digits, snow flakes are falling, and...
Okay, so maybe the Super Bowl at Lambeau is only a dream, and the entertainment options in Green Bay are lacking. But anyone who was at the Packers' playoff game against Seattle last season would say it was one of the coolest things they have ever witnessed. It was a portrait of Americana. Lambeau was a snow globe, and fans, both watching on television and at the game, savored every moment. It was football in its truest form.
On the field that day X's and O's became replaced by good ol' fashioned smash-mouth football. The will to win became more important than the talent to win. Blocking and tackling took over. What a revelation it was! That is what an elimination football game should feel like!
Unfortunately, the Super Bowl rarely has that feel. Most of the time now, it feels artificial. It is more about an all-out media blitz, commercials, Hollywood parties, and pyrotechnics. The necessary evil to running a billion-dollar business is entertaining corporate suits in big cities - preferably with a warm sun.
To be fair, there are numerous charitable functions and plenty of genuinely good stuff, too, during Super Bowl week. This commentary is not solely intended to paint an ugly picture of how the NFL handles the Super Bowl. It is merely to provide some food for thought and a small voice to consider a "retro" year for the championship game. Lambeau Field would fall into that category.
To even consider Green Bay for its biggest game, the NFL would have to downsize its approach. It would have to accommodate what the City of Green Bay and surrounding metropolitan areas could handle. It would take a financial hit in many areas. Such reduction seems backwards for this continually growing product.
Former Packers' chairman and CEO Bob Harlan said that when he used to attend league meetings and the topic of Super Bowl sites was being discussed, the room would get a laugh when former Browns' owner Art Modell suggested Cleveland and Green Bay "would just assume not have the game." Modell would always flash Harlan a smile after he said it.
In a phone interview in January 2007, Harlan conceded that though the Packers have the appropriate stadium to host the Super Bowl, there are simply too many other variables.
"We simply wouldn't be able to accommodate the people who would come to town and be a part of something like this," he said. "People come from across the country to see the event. We can't get a visiting team to town the way it is right now.
"To take any kind of a chance in Green Bay with the weather would be so severe. There have been a lot of fans and people who have been upset about the fact that Minnesota had a game and Detroit had a couple of games and even those were in domed stadiums… You're just taking a chance on a lot of things that would make it awfully difficult."
The way the Super Bowl is today, Green Bay's lack of lodging in and around the city makes staging such a grand event impossible. According to official web sites for the Super Bowl held in Miami two years ago (between the Bears and Colts), the South Florida Super Bowl host committee was required to secure (at least) 17,500 hotel rooms. Green Bay and surrounding metropolitan areas within a one-hour drive of the city have approximately 12,000 rooms (based on data provided by local departments of tourism). Most teams that play the Packers in Green Bay stay in Appleton, about a 40-minute drive from Lambeau Field.
There are also the accommodations for team practices to consider. The Packers have a wonderful indoor facility in the Don Hutson Center, but where would the other team practice with some privacy? There are security issues, hospitality issues, and travel issues, too, as Harlan alluded to in his comments above. The list goes on and on.
Because of all of those factors, Green Bay will never even get a chance to present itself to host the NFL's ultimate game. It is an understandable reality, but a tough one to deal with too – because like Yankee Stadium and the World Series or Madison Square Garden and the NBA Finals – Lambeau Field and the Super Bowl seems so right.
The Packers and Seahawks play in the snow during the playoffs in January.