The best/worst Super Bowl ever
NEW YORK -- They are bringing in boats, putting up tents and stopping traffic in New York and New Jersey all in the name of Super Bowl XLVIII. An outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl is the best idea the NFL has ever had -- as long as the snow melts and the polar vortex slinks back to the Arctic in time for the Feb. 2 game.
But seriously, snow is no problem. The Broncos and Seahawks will play for their Super Bowl bonuses in anything from a heat wave to a hurricane -- and it'll make for good television as long as you can keep the camera from blowing away. A Super Bowl party in say, Lincoln, Neb. (which will, of course, have to be called a "Big Game" party lest you unwittingly wake up an army of sleeping trademark guardians), will not be affected by a blizzard in New Jersey.
Snow? The NFL laughs when it hears the word. At MetLife Stadium as I write this, the NFL has a robot army of machines that will annihilate any flakes that dare fall within a mile-square region on or near game day. They use jet engines -- jet engines! -- to power the industrial melters. And if that doesn't terrify any would-be Super Bowl snowflakes, NORAD's no-fly zone could be amended to include frozen precipitate.
No, the real challenge of a frosty Northeast Super Bowl will be facing the fans. This is the Mass Transit Super Bowl, and that includes Metro-North trains that stopped last week due to an accidentally pulled power cord during the evening rush. Oops! But otherwise, New York is totally on top of it. Forget I mentioned the whole train thing.
The Super Bowl host committee tried to develop a MetroCard for the week that would have worked for all the region's subway, bus and train lines. But like everything about a project that needed the cooperation of two governors, New Jersey Transit, the MTA, the Port Authority, the FBI, the New York City Police Department and the New Jersey State Police -- it got complicated.
But they did produce a map!
New York is the greatest city in the world, and it would be a fun place to attend a Super Bowl in, say, September. In early fall, you could wear shoes that wouldn't be destroyed by slush. And you could walk 10 blocks without needing a sled dog and snow goggles. In this weather, "layering" doesn't mean wearing your cute minidress under a slightly larger, faux-fur-lined minidress.
Super Bowl parties are always over the top, but New York parties? Super Bowl prediction: Five of the top 10 Super Bowl party moments will happen this year. Whether it's the DirecTV party being built from scratch on the West Side pier with Jay-Z scheduled on the mike, or the Bud Light Hotel on a cruise ship with four nights of concerts, companies have been working for a year to make their parties the entertainment equivalent of the moon landing.
The bad news is that football fans won't just be competing for access to parties against the usual NFL VIPs -- team owners and coaches and sponsors -- they'll be competing against actual VIPs. Every celebrity in the world has a 4,000-square-foot pied-à-terre between SoHo and the West 70s. Not to mention the lesser-known New Yorkers who just happen to be connected to everyone from Oprah to Tim Gunn to Lil Za.
If it's too much of a scene, you could always go to more tranquil New Jersey. To the chagrin of New Jersey residents, NYC has been stepping all over its neighbor when it comes to hype, a perennial Marcia to New Jersey's Jan. The NFL Fan Experience was initially slated to be in the Garden State, but instead the league will shut down a stretch of Broadway from Herald Square north. So, awkward!
But then there's the game in New Jersey, which you can get to via bus or -- don't pull that cord! -- train.
Unless you have an invitation to Jerry Jones' personal suite, the game itself will be a challenge to sit through. With possible snow and wind in the forecast, die-hard fans, Arctic explorers and survivalist types are really the ones who should snatch up those outdoor tickets, which are plummeting in price.
Whatever. The NFL is not relying on the gate to make money here. The fans in the stands are necessary because the team colors and chest painters make for good television. The Super Bowl is a show, from opera's Renée Fleming and the national anthem to a halftime act that will not feature Jay-Z and "Empire State of Mind." (Not bitter. OK, still very, very frustrated over the importation of Bruno what's-his-name.)
If Mother Nature has a sense of humor, Feb. 2 will be 55 degrees and balmy. But we all know that Mother Nature is just a lazy literary device to anthropomorphize something we have no way of explaining. So instead it will be cold and windy, possibly with snow.
Snow makes for a good show, and the true honored guests are going to be in luxury suites that go for the price of a house. And that $350,000 gets you a few hours at a football game rather than the investment of a lifetime.
The folks in the upper bowl? They are lucky to be here.
But there's a bright side.
We will watch the Super Bowl because the game will be great, despite everything the NFL could possibly do to over-embellish football with commercials and sponsorships and Michael Jackson impersonators (I'm looking at you, Mars). Broncos and Seahawks -- veteran great Peyton Manning versus future great Russell Wilson -- could be an instant classic of a Super Bowl.
So forget about the hassle, and the fact you won't be able to get a cab in Midtown starting Wednesday. A New York (and New Jersey!) Super Bowl can be a terrible idea and the best idea all at the same time.