The National Football League may have picked the perfect time to play its championship game in New Jersey -- for a snowstorm.
NFL owners yesterday awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to the $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium, the first to be played outdoors in what the league calls a cold-weather city.
Three potential dates have been reserved -- Feb. 2, 9 and 16. This year, a storm on Feb. 9-10 dumped 13 inches of snow at Newark International Airport, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“If somebody were to ask me which two weeks in the entire winter it is most likely to snow in Newark, New Jersey, I would probably say the first two weeks of February,” said Dave Dombek, senior meteorologist for State College, Pennsylvania- based AccuWeather.com. “It just likes to snow that time of year because the ocean is getting close to its coldest.”
The stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets, is making its debut this year. Owners picked it over bids from Tampa and South Florida.
Yesterday’s vote at an owners meeting in Irving, Texas, follows a pattern in which the NFL awarded recent Super Bowls to new stadiums in Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis and suburban Phoenix. Dallas is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in 2011, Indianapolis in 2012 and New Orleans in 2013. All those games will be played in domed stadiums.
“It’s going to be cold, and people who are from New Orleans or Houston or Dallas have got to bring gloves and a hat and dress in layers,” said Larry Nierenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, New Jersey. “Especially if it’s windy, it can feel really cold.”
Before voting to give the game to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, the 32 NFL owners waived the league’s traditional requirement that host sites have a minimum average temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) or a climate-controlled indoor stadium.
The average February temperature at Newark airport is about 34 degrees, according to data from the New Jersey state climatologist. Nierenberg said the record low for Feb. 2 at the airport was minus-2 Fahrenheit in 1961; for Feb. 9, the record low was minus-14 in 1934, and for Feb. 16 the record low was zero in 1943.
Dombek said in a telephone interview that the Blizzard of 1978, which hit the Northeast U.S., dumped 18 inches of snow in New York City on Feb. 6-7, 1978. The 82,500-seat Meadowlands stadium is located about 10 miles west of the NFL’s headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
New York Debut
The New York area never has hosted a Super Bowl. The first one was in Los Angeles in January 1967 and has been played a combined 19 times in Miami and New Orleans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said staging the contest in the nation’s financial and media capital outweighed the risk of snow and freezing temperatures.
“I do believe New York is a unique market and the membership recognizes that,” Goodell said in a news conference. “It’s the No. 1 market in our country.”
Nierenberg said in a telephone interview that most of the game will be played in darkness, since the sun sets early at that time of year, and that could make conditions much colder.
“There is the potential there for some bad weather,” he said. “It could just end up being cold, moderately cold, or it could end up being pretty darn bad. It all depends on Mother Nature.”