As football fans get set to fly to Minnesota to attend the Super Bowl, why are so many more fans deciding to watch the game at home – or a local sports bar? It’s partly because of high prices – and partly because of the weather.
When the New England Patriots were going to meet the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on 5 February 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, I telephoned a die-hard Patriots fan that lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and asked if he was planning on travelling to Indianapolis to attend the game.
“Are you kidding?” he asked. “It’s cold enough in Boston. Why on earth would I want to go to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl when I can watch it at home on TV?”
“But it’s an indoor stadium, and it will be heated,” I offered.
Fast forward 16 years, and the Patriots are headed to another Super Bowl. While I’ve lost touch with my friend in Boston, I have a feeling that he will be staying at home again.
Cold Climate Super Bowls
Which begs the question – whose idea was it to hold Super Bowls in cold climates anyway?
I always thought that half of the fun of attending the Super Bowl was escaping winter for a couple of days and watching the game in a sunbathed stadium.
Miami, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana, have hosted 10 Super Bowls Each. Eight have been played in Los Angeles, California; five in Tampa, Florida: and three each in San Diego, California; and two each in Phoenix, Arizona; and Houston, Texas.
Of the 40-plus Super Bowls held so far, the overwhelming majority have been played in the so-called Sun Belt.
There have only been a handful of exceptions. Two Super Bowls were held in Michigan, one in Detroit and another in Pontiac.
Other non-Sun Belt hosts include San Francisco, California (two); Indianapolis, Indiana (one); and the New York Metropolitan area (New Jersey) one.
With this year’s Super Bowl, Minneapolis/Saint Paul will have the proud distinction of playing host to two Super Bowls.
Imagine waiting for years – decades maybe – for your team to make it to the Super Bowl and when it finally does, you find out that it was being held in Anchorage, Alaska!
I know that’s never going to happen because you have to have a team in the NFL to host a Super Bowl, but you get my point.
There’s More to the Super Bowl Than the Game
I’ve only been to one Super Bowl, the year the Oakland Raiders met the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in San Diego, California, and I’d have to say that there was far more to the experience than the game itself because most fans arrived early in order to party in the run-up to the game.
For me, it started at the executive aviation terminal at Oakland International Airport before departure, where I started meeting other fans that were every bit as excited as I was.
We bonded with each other on the cocktail rich chartered flight to San Diego and high-fived each other in the corridors of the hotel in the run-up to the Big Day.
I spent my mornings hanging out at the hotel swimming pool and my afternoons watching pre-game coverage on TV.
For the three nights preceding the game, I traveled into San Diego’s Gaslight district – the first two nights alone, the third with friends I met over breakfast by the pool.
Sea of Silver and Black
The streets – which had been closed to traffic – were awash in a sea of Silver and Black. I read in the newspaper that an estimated 200,000 Raiders fans had descended on San Diego, most of them without tickets. They just wanted to be a part of the action.
There was this incredible sense of camaraderie and joy. When I started dancing to the music of some street musicians, some fans from Tampa Bay came up and danced with me. At the hotel, I met football fans from Dallas and Philadelphia.
The excitement was infectious. The Dallas fans were in town on business but got caught up in the excitement of being in a city hosting the Super Bowl. They wondered if they could get tickets.
The couple from Philadelphia had been given Super Bowl ticket as Christmas presents by their children in the expectation that the Eagles were Super Bowl bound.
“Since the Eagles didn’t make it, we’re going to root for the Raiders,” one of them said to me the night before the game.
Escape from Winter
For me, half the fun of going to the Super Bowl was escaping from a chilly Northern California winter to a warm and sunny San Diego. Would it have been as much fun in Detroit or Minneapolis or Indianapolis or Rutherford, New Jersey?
Maybe, but I don’t really think so.
Looking ahead, Super Bowl LII will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the expected high is 22 degrees Fahrenheit and the expected low is 5 degrees.
I know that the stadium will be heated to a comfortable temperature, but that’s not the point.
So will the living rooms and sports bars of fans in Boston and Philadelphia!
As much as I want my Raiders to go to the Super Bowl, I’m not too disappointed it didn’t happen this year. There is no way I’d fly to Minneapolis/St. Paul in the depth of winter to watch a football game.