Decision ’14 turns out to be super for New York
IRVING, Texas — If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere?
As was widely expected, the NFL owners ended weeks of speculation yesterday by awarding Super Bowl XLVIII to the New York/New Jersey group, which outlasted Tampa and South Florida in a nationally televised voting process. The NFL will stage the 2014 championship contest at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Feb. 2, 9, or 16.
Many of the events leading up the game will be held in Manhattan, with the AFC team to be housed at the Giants facility at the Meadowlands and the NFC team going to the Jets digs in Florham Park, N.J.
But perhaps the bigger question to arise from the decision is whether giving the game to New York opens the possibility of having additional future Super Bowls in cold-weather cities. The league’s official policy for bidders with outdoor stadiums has been that the host city must have an average February temperature of at least 50 degrees, a rule that was waived for the New York/New Jersey group.
At this point, the answer may not be a definitive yes, but it’s also not no.
“I think New York will create a great opportunity to see what it’ll be like,’’ said Patriots president and COO Jonathan Kraft. “And I’m sure if things go well in New York, New York might well want to pursue it in the future after that.
“I know [Redskins owner] Dan [Snyder] is interested in it. Dan’s pretty excited about it. Washington’s not as far north as Boston, so it might make a little more sense.’’
Snyder confirmed that he does, indeed, plan to bid on a Super Bowl.
“I think eventually we’ll have one,’’ Snyder said. “I think New York will do a great job of demonstrating what a big-time city can do. I think when they host the game, people will be surprised that the weather’s not that cold and, quite frankly, we might get lucky, in which case it would a fantastic showpiece for outdoor stadiums.’’
Should the New York Super Bowl go off in the grand fashion the league expects, chances are the Redskins would not be the only Northern team to pursue the possibility of bringing the big game to potentially frigid conditions.
While cities such as Denver and Chicago have been speculated as potential interested parties in the years ahead, Kraft wasn’t particularly optimistic that the Patriots would ever be able to lure the Super Bowl to Gillette Stadium.
“I think for us it’s probably, realistically, not going to happen,’’ Kraft said. “We’re happy for New York and I think the New York Super Bowl will give our fans a chance, if they’d like . . . it’ll make going to the Super Bowl an easier experience, which was definitely something we were thinking about, too. You can drive down from Boston. They’ve built a beautiful stadium and it’s a great city.’’
On this day, such speculation wasn’t on the minds of those in the nation’s largest metropolis. Jubilation was, as the Jets and Giants concluded what was, in essence, a five-year process to bring the game to New York.
The city got conditional approval to host Super Bowl XLIV back in 2005, but when the Jets’ plans for a retractable-roof stadium on the West Side (part of a New York Olympic bid) fell apart, the site was changed to South Florida. That’s when the Jets joined the Giants’ stadium project at the Meadowlands, and pushed the idea of this bid on Giants ownership.
“[Jets owner] Woody [Johnson] started putting this idea on me about four years ago, when we first entered this partnership,’’ Giants co-owner John Mara said. “He was absolutely relentless and he finally convinced me this was the right way to go.’’
The national telecast revealed a voting process that wasn’t the slam dunk some expected it to be.
It took the maximum four rounds of secret balloting before a decision was reached, meaning the league did reach a majority on New York/New Jersey, but not the 75 percent it would’ve taken to end the voting after the first or third rounds. South Florida was eliminated after the second round, leaving Tampa the other contender.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was among the owners who felt that giving New York a Super Bowl as a show of support following the Sept. 11 attacks was “the right thing to do.’’ Once the stadium issues in the metropolitan area were worked out, and a strong bid was put forth, the green light was given to extend that gesture.
“We didn’t stress that in the bid, but it certainly is [a rewarding part of winning],’’ Johnson said. “New York has gone through a lot. It’s getting battered from every direction. From Washington, Wall Street’s getting battered and the housing market and everything else. New York will be well along the way to recovery by 2014, but this whole process should help. It’s going to bring a lot of activity to New York and New Jersey.
“It’s confidence the world is placing in us, the media, the owners, in New York. There is some symbolic value.’’
The group emphasized that the only concern about the bid league officials expressed was the weather issue. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti raised a potential doomsday scenario, saying, “The idea of cold weather certainly doesn’t scare us. The idea of a two-foot snowstorm does.’’
But the bid group was steadfast in its ability to handle any circumstance that could possibly arise, with the snowstorm on the day of Super Bowl XVI in Detroit used as an example of getting people safely to the game in severe conditions.
“We made the point that we’re going to have the personnel and the equipment available to deal with the worst-case scenario, that being a blizzard,’’ Mara said. “We had a deal with a very tough snowstorm before a Jet game this year, and they were able to get the stadium cleared out and didn’t have to delay the game.
“And we’ll have multiple times the personnel available for this Super Bowl, and obviously we’ll have access to weather forecasts. Maybe by then, they’ll even be able to accurately predict the weather.’’
Mara added, “Let’s face it, there’s only one New York City,’’ when asked about the precedent this decision sets. And that was what helped most owners accept this move as a good one.
And so with the bid carrying the slogan “Make Some History,’’ that’s just what the league and the Jets and Giants have done. The debate on whether this history repeats itself is to be held on another day.
“It’s a historic moment for the league,’’ said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.