Excerpt: "The office of Frank Supovitz, the NFL's senior vice president of events, is on the eighth floor of the league's Park Avenue headquarters -- a level known as "Innovation," which is appropriate considering the job that he has been asked to assume.
That would be the staging of Super Bowl XLVIII, a task that is as innovative as it is challenging. It's the NFL's first attempt to hold an outdoor Super Bowl at a cold-weather site, with the improbable happening next February at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium and Supovitz the guy in charge of getting it right.
It is what one league insider called "a huge roll of the dice," but, as you might expect, Supovitz doesn't see it that way. He envisions it as an imaginative, unique and memorable event, much like what happened in the NHL in 2003 when, with the help of the Edmonton Oilers, Supovitz and the NHL staged the forerunner of the league's current series of Winter Classic stadium hockey games.
It was "The Heritage Classic," and it was supposed to be a gamble -- especially when it was played in sub-zero temperatures. Instead, it was an unequivocal success, with 57,167 showing up and people talking about it for years.
"There really is no reason why anybody should be frightened of doing a football game in the New York/New Jersey region in winter," Supovitz said. "It happens all the time.
"But Super Bowls don't. Super Bowls in cold-weather sites happen, either. But they don't happen outdoors. They're played in domed stadiums. That, of course, leads to a raft of questions, most of which you've heard. But what you might not have heard is why it can work ... and that's why Supovitz is here."I think it will be an incredibly memorable experience," he said, "that, much like Woodstock [in August 1969], if you were there, you would tell everyone you were there. And if you weren't ... you'd still tell everyone you were there.
"What I'd like is for Frank Supovitz to tell everyone why Super Bowl XLVIII can be a success, and this is his chance. The floor is yours, Frank.
Risk or Opportunity
Super Bowls typically are played in warm-weather sites or in domes in which climates can be controlled. There is no controlling the weather at MetLife Stadium, where the temperature was 28 degrees at kickoff for last season's Super Bowl in New Orleans. So here's the question: With everything that could be involved -- traffic, snow, ice, sleet, snow removal, you name it -- is this a risk or opportunity?
"Opportunity, no question," Supovitz said. "The Super Bowl is already widely and highly anticipated all over the country, and, increasingly, in other parts of the world, as well. You could just do the game and the things that go on around the game the way it's been done every year and always tweak and make it a little better, a little better and a little better. But to be able to stage an event like this ... in a market like this ... with the amount of eyeballs and conversation about it ... is an incredible opportunity.
"Think about it: You're talking to people about this now. It's going to be talked about right up to -- and including -- the game. And I would bet you when the 10-day forecasts start rolling out it will be, 'Well, Game Day looks like it's going to be 30 degrees or 20 degrees,' or 'It's going to be lovely,' or 'It's not.' People will start talking about this very early.
"Do I think it's a risky undertaking? I don't. There are risks you have to embrace, and you have to be prepared for. If there's a snowfall, I don't think that's the end of the universe, I just think you have to be prepared to respond to it. If there's a major snowfall at the precise wrong moment, could it cause you to get delayed in some way getting to the kickoff at 6:30 on Sunday? Sure. That's possible. But we have to be prepared for that, and we have to have contingencies in place, and we are working with local law enforcement and broadcasters and all of our business partners on what those scenarios might look like. We made the decision in the New York/New Jersey region to embrace the winter and celebrate what is a cold-weather sport by doing as much as we can for fans out of doors, which is different than other winter markets."
When you think of New Jersey in early February, you think cold, grey, wind and precipitation -- not necessarily in that order. The average daily temperatures for early February are in the 38-to-25-degree range (based on studies from 1974-2012), with a 25 percent chance of precipitation. So that makes weather a compelling issue, right?
"No," said Supovitz. "It's really not an issue until it becomes an issue. It was not an issue in Detroit [in 2006] when it snowed the night before because it's a city that is ready to handle those kinds of things and that had the materials and systems in place. New York and New Jersey are famous for getting their infrastructures back and running. We will have at the stadium an enhanced version of the snow-removal plan that they already have. But if it takes eight hours to get 18 inches of snow out of the bowl, we have to find a way to do it in less time. So we're developing those plans with our contractors and with the stadiums and their contractors to make sure we have the most efficient system in place to remove, melt or move snow." Read more...