For the first time ever, the Super Bowl next year will be decided not in the pleasant winter sunshine of one of America's southern states, but in the freezing conditions of the north east of the country.
Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which will make it the first intentionally cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl in NFL history.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that the game is made to be played in the elements, and while that's true, there are all sorts of complications when it comes to a specific game that is as much a corporate outing and media crush as it is a football contest.
One such complication: There may not be a half-time show next year. Beyonce's display half-way through the weekend's game between the Ravens and the 49ers brought the house down, but it seems highly unlikely that there will be anything even vaguely similar show in 12 months' time. As Josh Margolin of the New York Post reports, one source close to the situation believes that the logistics of setting up a stage and pulling a show off in a short space of time would be nearly impossible under inclement conditions.
NFL PR man Brian McCarthy has already shot down the report, insisting that there will be a half-time show, but that's pretty easy to do when reality is still a year away.
“It’s not only the acts and the singers but [also] the crews that have to put the stage together," the inside man told Margolin. "You know, the assembly has to be done a certain way. It’s choreographed and rehearsed so it can be assembled and disassembled as fast as possible. And you just can’t assemble the stage and break it down fast enough in the cold.”
And if you thought the 34-minute Superdome blackout in Super Bowl XLVII was bad, imagine something along the lines of what happened when Syracuse and USC tussled at MetLife last September: Storms delayed the game nearly 90 minutes, and fans were asked to seek shelter inside the corridors when a lightning storm hit. Not what the NFL wants after last Sunday's blackout.
USC-Syracuse, Sept., 2012 -- game halted because of storms. The Super Bowl could be even worse. (AP)
Regarding the half-time show, the NFL has a few options here. They could do a major concert near the venue earlier in the week, or some sort of video presentation when half-time starts.
But the potential lack of half-time festivities is just one issue, and given the amount of planning that has to go into making the game week glitch-free under the best possible circumstances, some in the league are starting to wonder if this was a good idea at all.
Once source told Margolin that the NFL is "freaking out" over the possible negative outcomes, and as much as Goodell likes to think of himself as all-powerful, he hasn't yet figured out a way to control the weather.
And that brings up the ultimate "doomsday" question: What if the New York/New Jersey area is hit with a major snow or ice storm as the game week gets underway? If 2012 was a bad year for Goodell (and it most certainly was), putting the Super Bowl in doubt for even a minute might be the ultimate black mark. As one source posited to Margolin:
“How do you cancel a Super Bowl or postpone it? Who decides? When? How do they decide? Will it be the next day, the next week? What if the teams can’t get there? What if the George Washington Bridge is shut down?”
Good questions all, and given Goodell's usual "ready-fire-aim" stance on things, it's an even bet that these issues will not be properly dealt with until it's too late. We can but wait and see whether the lack of a half-time show is the biggest problem the NFL will face in February 2014.
Eurosport / Doug Farrar, Yahoo!
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