Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Which Cities Should Host the Super Bowl?

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

With Tuesday's announcement that San Francisco will host Super Bowl 50 and Houston will follow with 51, I began thinking about what makes for a great Super Bowl host city.

Actually, I was mostly thinking about what makes a terrible host city for the big game.

This is nothing against the Bay Area, one of America's "trendiest" regions right now, or the 49ers and their new Santa Clara home. But, when I found out that Houston was selected over places like New Orleans and Miami, it made me feel the same way I did when Qatar was awarded the World Cup for 2022.

This isn't right!

Plus, we all remember that great Middle Eastern football team the Qatar Oilers, proving this is clearly about oil money! (I may be mixing and matching things from those two cities)

If you think you've read a column like this before, you're right, but I promise not to copy Bill Simmons' Super Bowl host city mailbag too much. I'm just going to let you know why, if I were commissioner, the Super Bowl would only be hosted by a select few cities on a rotational basis.

Unless It's New York, No Cold Weather. Not Even "Sort of" Cold Weather (Looking at You Nashville)

Notice I didn't say New Jersey. The New Meadowlands don't count, because now you're just playing a cold, miserable game in the state that resides permanently in New York's shadow (And you thought it was Massachusetts).

If the NFL were to build a field in Times Square and pack people in New Year's Eve style, fine, I'd take that for the spectacle that it would be. Heck, if you wanted to play it in Yankees Stadium in the Bronx I'm there! But across the river? Not worth it.

But Joe, haven't some cold weather cities proven they can host the Super Bowl? Yeah, Indianapolis did a great job in 2012 (Believe me, they never shut up about it), but come on, do you want to be in Indiana in February? I went to Purdue, I remember what Indiana is like in February, count me out.

What about historic NFL cities like Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cleveland? Ew, just ew. I remember going to Detroit for the Super Bowl in 2006, and that was indoors. It still sucked. This rule will rightfully eliminate 20 of the league's 32 teams and allow us all to attend Super Bowls without having to pack a winter coat.

NFL Sites Eliminated: Both New York teams, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New England, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati,  Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Tennessee

If Your City Has Failed Miserably in the Past, NEVER AGAIN

Call this the Dallas Rule, as Jerry Jones and Mother Nature did everything they could to destroy the experience of Super Bowl XLV. A Texas snow storm was unusual, sure, but the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area shut down, leaving thousands of tourists with no place to spend their money.

Then, in an attempt to set a Super Bowl attendance record, Jerry Jones packed people in so tight it violated fire code. For that reason alone, Jerry, you're just going to have to settle for hosting big-time college bowl games from here on out.

Jacksonville would also fall under this rule due to the small number of hotel rooms in town (Cruise ships had to be brought in when they hosted Super Bowl XXXIX), poor traffic flow and the lack of local attractions. What, St. Augustine isn't sexy enough for you guys?!?!

NFL Sites Eliminated: Dallas, Jacksonville

The "Eh" Rule

This rule is about wow factor, and it gauges the average person's reaction to going to a given city. If your first reaction is "sweet," or "awesome," this city is Super Bowl worthy. But, if it's "eh, yeah, that could be fun," sorry, no dice for you. So for all those people that were "pretty excited to see Atlanta," or "sort of in the mood to discover Houston," or "starting to warm up to the idea of Charlotte," sorry, I'm only sending you to exciting cities.

I know Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte, you do a fine job hosting NBA All Star Games, NCAA Final Fours and other great events, but I'm still not giving you the Super Bowl. Sorry.

NFL Sites Eliminated: Atlanta, Carolina, Houston

So those are my only three rules: 1. Avoid cold weather, unless it's actually in NYC. 2. Avoid cities (and team owners) that have screwed it up in the past. 3. Make it a city people WANT to go to.

Pretty simple stuff. That leaves us with seven current NFL towns, and five potentially awesome "neutral" sites.

NFL Cities: Miami, New Orleans, San Diego, Phoenix/Glendale, Tampa, San Francisco Bay Area (Counts Oakland, unfortunately)

I know Tampa isn't quite the sexiest city around, but it beats pretty much anywhere in the South other than Miami, plus it has more strippers per capita than any other city in the US. San Diego, Miami and New Orleans all speak for themselves, and the great town, dry heat and new stadium make Arizona incredibly appealing.

My God Wouldn't It Be Awesome:
Honolulu, Los Angeles/Pasadena, Las Vegas, San Antonio and a rotation of international locations.

The NFL is going to need to do something Aloha Stadium once the Pro Bowl inevitably goes under, so why not let it host the big game? Imagine the marketing possibilities. Super Bowl cruises? Super Bowl Luaus? Count me in.

LA needs to get back into football, but the stadium situation is not going to be resolved any time soon. No matter, why not host the game at one of the most historic venues in football history, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena?

Vegas already hosts a college bowl game every year, but having the Super Bowl there is a pipe dream until A. The NFL gets off its high horse about gambling (It's the reason there is so much interest in your product, idiots) and B. Vegas builds a stadium that doesn't host terrible Runnin' Rebs games.

San Antonio and the Alamodome is the least intriguing of these choices, but the Alamo Bowl has always been a great experience and River Walk is just lovely. If you're going to have it in Texas, and you don't want to deal with Jerry Jones, this is the place to do it.

Finally, if the NFL really wants to go international, export the game's biggest spectacle. I think you would want to keep the game close at first, so that American fans could still make up the majority of the crowd, but as  the league's international following grew, you could branch out to different hemispheres.

A good starting point would be Guadalajara, Mexico, a young and growing city near the Pacific coast of Mexico that already has a 62,000 person stadium to use.

Finally, no matter which of these realistic or fantastical options you choose, one thing undeniable. They're all better than Houston.