Super Bowl XLVIII likely to avoid bad weather



NEW YORK — Baby, it’s cold outside, and, in two days, the first Super Bowl will be played in an open-air stadium in the North.

But it won’t be the first Super Bowl played in cold weather.

Old Steelers will tell you that’s not true because their first Super Bowl 39 years ago was played in 46 degrees in New Orleans. The cold, wind and rain made things so slick on the Astroturf at old, open-air Tulane Stadium, that the Steelers switched shoes to help their footing.

Three years earlier, Dallas and Miami kicked off in 39-degree weather in Super Bowl VI in Tulane Stadium.

The forecast for Sunday is a high temperature of 46 degrees, a low of 26 and only a 10 percent chance of some type of precipitation. So it looks like a 100 percent chance of participation by the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks on schedule at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in Super Bowl XLVIII.

It does not look as if that light snow NFL honchos quietly pulled for to give them that snow-globe feeling on TV will happen.

The gamble made by Roger Goodell and NFL owners to put the Super Bowl in New York is about to pay off, and that already has spawned other cold-weather cities with open-air stadiums to prepare to make bids for a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh is not one of them, but Philadelphia is.

“If it goes well, that’s definitely a possibility,” Eagles president Don Smolenski told Philly.com about pitching a Super Bowl for Philadelphia.

“We’re very proud of Lincoln Financial Field. We do think it’s a great facility, and we think over the years that’s been evident. It would be a sense of pride. Philadelphia is a world-class city with world-class facilities, and it’s a great sports town. It would be a chance to showcase Philadelphia on an international stage.”

Just don’t look for Pittsburgh to be throwing its hat in the Super Bowl ring, at least not with much fervor. Steelers president Art Rooney II has said he would like to see the NFL draft come to Pittsburgh, but has said nothing about a Super Bowl at Heinz Field.

For one, the stadium isn’t large enough, even if they add the 3,000 extra seats to boost capacity to 68,500. Only five of the 48 Super Bowls (including this one) will have been played before crowds of fewer than 70,000; the NFL wants bigger stadiums for its main event, not smaller ones.

The league also wants a Super Bowl venue with a much larger press box than Heinz Field’s and many more hotel rooms than there are in Pittsburgh. So the city has about as much chance of landing a Super Bowl as it does an Olympics.

But New York’s Super Bowl weather “success” will have others besides Philadelphia trying to land the game. Washington owner Daniel Snyder wants one for his stadium, too, as do the Chicago Bears.

Atlanta reportedly was scraped off the list as a potential site for more games when an ice storm paralyzed the city two days before Super Bowl XXXIV, the second one played in the Atlanta dome. While New York has experienced no weather problems other than bitter cold this week, the Atlanta region was virtually shut down Tuesday and Wednesday by a 2-inch snowfall.

And those Steelers fans who endured all the ice in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas know that a stadium with a roof does not guarantee you can get to it (or that there would be seats waiting for you if you did).

In the meantime, the weather should favor neither team. Snow and cold were seen as more favorable conditions to the Seattle Seahawks, who rely on the NFL’s No. 1 defense and a good ground game vs. Denver’s record passing attack with Peyton Manning.

But with what basically is football weather forecast Sunday, the talk has refocused on strategy, talent and football’s favorite word, “execution.”

“We know it’s going to be cold,” Seattle wide receiver Percy Harvin said. “We’re used to all of that playing in Seattle. We practice in it. We are tired of hearing about it.”

Both teams play outdoors in cold-weather cities and seemed to relish the possibility of doing so in the Super Bowl.

“We live in Denver, Colorado,” Broncos offensive tackle Orlando Franklin said. “It’s not like it doesn’t snow. The Broncos are weatherproof, I feel like.”

It looks as if Super Bowl XLVIII will be that way, too. And those who like their weather perfect for the big game, can look forward to the next three Super Bowls — at Arizona, at San Francisco/Santa Clara and Houston.


Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.

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