Has it only been eight days since Pandora did Dallas?
Between the tales of icy streets, slippery sidewalks, stranded tourists, chilly hotel rooms, rampant price gouging and the kickoff-time chaos created when several hundred fans learned they had bought tickets that weren’t worth a seat, I get the sense the debacle destined to be remembered as Super Bowl XLV was originally reported in an expose written by Upton Sinclair.
Amid the fallout of a botched-up sporting event whose aftermath turned out to be longer than its prelude, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial touting North Texas’ worthiness as a future Super Bowl site.
Such civic pride is an understandable reaction to the scathing commentary of visitors – reminiscent of Atlanta’s 1996 Summer Olympics, panned everywhere, by everybody, except the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And to be fair, although Super Bowl XLV wasn’t the first rodeo at the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, it was Cowboys Stadium’s first rodeo during a major winter storm.
But before the NFL extends a mulligan to North Texas (more specifically, to North Texas grand poohah Jerry Jones, the host with the most), shouldn’t a qualified market get its first chance to hold a Super Bowl?
With the help of $300 million in state tax money, Qwest Field opened almost nine years ago to rave reviews. The raves haven’t diminished: No NFL stadium boasts a better combination of aesthetics and intimacy in a downtown hub adjacent to restaurants, shops and public transportation.
Yet Qwest Field never has been seen as a candidate for the Super Bowl. An outdoor stadium in a “cold-climate” city, it’s been dismissed from the discussion – without any discussion.
Aaron Levine, the sports director of Q13 Fox News Seattle, is eager to begin a discussion. Upon returning from Dallas, where he covered an entertaining Packers-Steelers game that almost was obscured by the fiasco that surrounded it, Levine organized a “Bring the Super Bowl to Seattle” campaign on Facebook. Over the first 24 hours, there were 2,280 followers.
Levine notes the knee-jerk objections against Seattle – the typical temperature in February and, to a lesser degree, the size of the stadium – and offers compelling refutations of both.
During the first week of February, Seattle averages a high of 49 degrees, which is indistinguishable from the NFL-mandated minimum of a 50-degree average for an outdoor Super Bowl site.
By the way, that minimum was waived when league owners awarded a bid to New York/New Jersey for 2014.
As for Qwest Field’s 67,000-seat capacity, 3,000 below the Super Bowl minimum, it was designed with the capability of expanding the capacity to 72,000 for “special events.”
I presume the game that annually rates as America’s most-watched television show qualifies as a “special event.”
(Heck, the Super Bowl halftime show is a special event, if for no other reason than it inspires thousands of young adults to perform a cohesive jumping exercise in front of the stage.)
I’m not sure where those extra 5,000 seats would be installed, but I’ll guarantee you they wouldn’t be installed with the reckless, morning-of-the-game urgency used at Cowboys Stadium.
On a personal note, here’s something else I like about Levine’s qwest – er, quest – to bring the Super Bowl to Seattle. I don’t feel like a pipe-dreaming advocate of the absurd anymore.
Several years ago, not long after Qwest Field impressed me as the ultimate NFL experience, I wrote a column on why Seattle deserved consideration as a Super Bowl destination. I was baffled, as I recall, at how the league owners had awarded future sites to Jacksonville, Fla. (for 2005) and Detroit (for 2006), while Seattle was permanently off the board.
I mentioned how Seattle-area tourists could entertain themselves skiing in the mountains, or visiting one of two national parks within a few hours’ driving distance, or taking a day trip anywhere from Victoria, B.C., to Portland. For those less adventurous, there are museums, and bars, and museums with bars.
As for the possibility of inclement weather? Bring it on; it would guarantee a Super Bowl stadium full of genuine football fans.
Anyway, I put forth the merits of Seattle as a possible Super Bowl site, and the feedback I got was the sound of birds chirping before sunrise: Won’t happen. You can’t be serious. Get a clue. The NFL would never put its championship game in an outdoor stadium facing potentially nasty weather conditions.
Except that’s just what the NFL did, when it awarded a Super Bowl to New York/New Jersey. To paraphrase the lyrics of the Sinatra song: If you can play it there, you can play it anywhere.
A Super Bowl bid requires some grass-roots momentum. Owners aren’t inclined to think out of the box, so they must be persuaded to think out of the box.
Hello? Anybody? Hello?
Because bids must be submitted in the fall before they’re voted on in the spring, the next available slot is for 2016: Super Bowl L, the 50th anniversary game.
Dallas wants it. After a humiliating display of bureaucratic bumbling, after a Super Bowl week that went so wrong it took Jacksonville off the hook as Worst Site Ever, Dallas is asking for one more chance.
And Seattle just watches, content to chill as an afterthought as the blossoms show their colors.