EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After weeks — and perhaps years — of angst over what the weather conditions would be for the first Super Bowl held in a cold-weather location with an outdoor stadium, it turned out all of the fretting had been unnecessary.
Good fortune was on the NFL’s side for Sunday’s Super Bowl, won by the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8, over the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. The announced game-time temperature was 49 degrees, and the skies were clear. Snow was in the local forecast — but for Monday, not Sunday.
The first New York-area Super Bowl wasn’t even the chilliest in the game’s history. According to Pro Football Hall of Fame records, that distinction belongs to Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans with a game-time temperature of 39 degrees.
The mild weather conditions were good news for those cities, including Washington, with cold winter weather interested in hosting outdoor Super Bowls in the future.
This game and this week were viewed by some as a test case for such cities. If so, the test’s outcome was promising. Things went seamlessly, for the most part, all week for the teams to prepare for the game and fulfill their media obligations. And Sunday’s weather was so mild that the giant space heaters placed in the parking lots for fans seemed unnecessary and media members were complaining about the intensity of the overhead heat lamps in the auxiliary press box set up in the lower level of the stands.
John Mara, the co-owner of the New York Giants, said Sunday he was pleased with how things had gone leading up to the game. But Mara wasn’t allowing himself to celebrate quite yet as game time neared.
“Things have gone very well, probably beyond our wildest expectations,” Mara said a little more than an hour before kickoff. “But I’m not going to be relieved until probably 10:30, 11 o’clock tonight because we’ve got to get through the game without the lights going out or a wardrobe malfunction.”
NFL executive Joe Browne noted on Twitter that it was 52 degrees an hour and a half before kickoff and wrote: “The late Pete Rozelle, godfather of the [Super Bowl], is looking down at what he helped create 48 [years] ago.”
Some fans complained about transportation issues, especially involving trains headed to MetLife Stadium. The NFL countered that more than 80,000 fans had cleared stadium security by 5:15 p.m., more than an hour before kickoff. Greg Aiello, the league’s senior vice president of communications, wrote on Twitter that it was the “earliest arriving crowd in memory.”
Mara has said he would like the Super Bowl to return to the New York area. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie publicly expressed his interest Friday in securing a Super Bowl. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock lobbied publicly during the week for his city to be a future host. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said in the past he believes Washington should be awarded a Super Bowl.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday he was aware other cities had such interest and the owners would evaluate the situation after this game. Goodell pointed out that other Super Bowl requirements, such as available hotel rooms, would preclude some cold-weather cities from making bids.
The owners waived a weather requirement — that a host city have an average temperature of at least 50 degrees at this time of the year — to allow the combined Super Bowl bid by New York and New Jersey to proceed. Owners have expressed mixed views about other cold-weather cities hosting outdoor Super Bowls. Some have called it possible, while others have said they think New York was the lone exception to the rule.
The next three Super Bowls already have been awarded to Arizona, the San Francisco area and Houston. The site for the 2018 game is to be chosen by the owners in May from among finalists New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.