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By Mark Maske
Super Bowl week has arrived, and as always, various rooting interests are in play.
But with the game being played for the first time on the supersize stage of the New York area in what could be the grandest and coldest Super Bowl ever, a significant number of onlookers are rooting for the host city.
Or at least they should be. Any hopes for other cities with frosty weather and outdoor stadiums - such as Washington - to host future Super Bowls might rest on how things go in New York this week.
"Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore are all asking, 'Is this something we can do?' " Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, a former Redskins safety, said recently. "You'd be amazed how many fans and how many Packers shareholders here have asked the same thing."
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has expressed interest in hosting a Super Bowl. On the day the owners voted in May 2010 to award Super Bowl XLVIII to the New York area, he said: "I think Washington should get one, no matter what. It is the nation's capital."
Redskins officials declined to comment, but others in the league said virtually everyone in the NFL will be watching closely this week to see whether a future outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city is viable.
"I didn't go in there with the idea this would necessarily open the door to other cities," New York Giants co-owner John Mara said. "We were in the process of building a new stadium.
"Certainly, the attraction to the other owners of the game being played in the media capital of the world was powerful. But I do think if we do a good job and all goes well, it will open the door to other cities, yes."
The next three Super Bowls already have been awarded: to Arizona next year, San Francisco in 2016 and Houston in 2017. The 2018 game will be selected in May from among Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans.
The NFL waived a weather requirement - that a host city with an outdoor stadium have an average temperature of at least 50 degrees this time of year - to allow the New York/New Jersey bid to proceed. At the time of the vote, there were mixed feelings among owners as to whether the move was being made for reasons unique to having the game in New York or to open the possibility of having future Super Bowls in cities that usually wouldn't qualify for consideration.
As Sunday's match-up between Denver and Seattle at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., nears, those mixed feelings persist.
"I would say when the vote was taken, I regarded it as a New York-only vote," Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II said. "I think this first came up shortly after 9/11, and there was sentiment for doing something for New York. I think Washington was mentioned in some of those conversations as well. But it took a while for New York to put together a bid and a package that everyone was comfortable with.
"I think it will remain a rare occasion when the game is played in a northern city, particularly without a dome. But I do think people will be watching, and it could affect future decisions."
One NFL official, Eric Grubman, said there is "no prevailing view" within the league.
"Different people can have different views at the staff level, the?league?executive level, the ownership level," said Grubman, executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations. "There are some unique aspects to this bid. It's the largest media center. It's one of the largest business centers in the world. It's a tri-state area. There are two teams in one stadium.
"I think the owners are definitely evaluating how this goes, how our fans like it, how our?business?partners like it. It's not just the weather. There are a lot of aspects unique to this market."
The logistics to a Super Bowl in the New York area are tricky, with the teams staying in New Jersey and the media based at Times Square. Yet Grubman said he's confident those logistics will be managed seamlessly.
"We've gotten the buy-in of the New York and New Jersey authorities and New York and New Jersey law enforcement," he said. "They're used to putting on giant events. I think people are going to be able to get around, get to where they want to go and enjoy themselves."
The great unknown, of course, is the weather. The current forecast is for a partly to mostly clear day on Sunday, with temperatures at kickoff in the mid- to low-30s.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the coldest game-time temperature for a Super Bowl played in an outdoor stadium is 39 degrees, in Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The bigger issue this year is whether the chill will be accompanied by ice or snow.
Organizers have talked about plans to melt and move snow if needed. The league has contingency plans to play the game on a different day - any time from the Friday before to the Monday after - if the worst-case weather scenario unfolds.
Grubman said the league has spoken to NASA officials about how they deal with forecasts for launches and has hired an expert to help with the interpretation of various weather models.
New Jersey and New York got hit by significant snow Tuesday.
"I think we'll be prepared," the Giants' Mara said. "There's a lot for people to do here. I think people will enjoy themselves. Hopefully, we'll get a decent day for the game.
"I'm hoping for anything but extreme weather. You just want a situation where the people in the stands are comfortable and the game on the field won't be affected."
NFL owners waived the requirement that an outdoor Super Bowl be played in a city with an average temperature of at least 50 degrees. But would they do it again?
the magic number