January 31, 2012

Tom Caron: Super Bowl better suited to traditional sites

By TOM CARON

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. On Sunday they'll get a crack at revenge against the Giants, who just happen to be the team that beat them the last time Bill Belichick and Tom Brady led a team to February football.

That game was in the dry heat of Arizona. Sunday's game is not. Super Bowl XLVI will be played in Indianapolis?

Indianapolis? The Circle City? The Hub of the Midwest?

Yes, the world sets its sights on the Hoosier state this week. It's all part of the NFL's traveling road show, as Commissioner Roger Goodell brings Super Sunday to NFL cities north, south, east and west.

In the last 10 years, the Big Game has been held in Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit. Now it's in Indy. In two years, it'll be in East Rutherford, N.J., for Super Bowl XLVIII.

With all these cold-weather sites, they should scrap the roman numeral thing all together. Let's call the 2014 game Super Bowl BRRRRRR.

There was a time when the Super Bowl had a limited number of homes. It would bounce between Florida (usually Miami, with the occasional stop in Tampa), Southern California, New Orleans and Arizona. Atlanta would get it once a decade. That's how it went for a 10-year span from 1994-2003.

Nobody seemed to be complaining during their visits to San Diego, South Beach, and the Big Easy. Nobody but representatives from northern towns thought it was unfair to let people use the Super Bowl as a midwinter vacation in the south.

Even northern Florida can be cold this time of year. In 2005 the Pats beat the Eagles in Jacksonville. For much of the week it was colder in that city than it was in Boston. What was worse was the fact that Jacksonville couldn't handle a big-time event like the Super Bowl. The city had to bring in taxi and bus drivers from throughout the south just to facilitate the crush of humanity. The teams were housed more than 10 miles from the stadium, and media members were strewn across a 25-mile radius.

One of my enduring memories from covering that game, New England's last championship, was the bus ride on the morning of the Super Bowl. It was a 12-mile drive from our hotel to the Alltel Stadium, a trip we had been making all week. On the shuttle bus that morning, we were suddenly riding on a highway I hadn't seen before. It didn't take long for a bus full of reporters to figure out we were lost.

The driver, it seemed, was from Georgia. Brought in for the game. Didn't really know his way around.

We managed to direct him to the stadium and got out a few blocks away to walk through the traffic in time for pregame ceremonies. I took a cab after the game.

The point is, some cities just aren't cut out to be Super Bowl hosts. Indianapolis should be better at handling the logistics – after all, it hosts the Indianapolis 500 every year, has been the site of the Final Four, and is the self-proclaimed "Amateur Sports Capital of the World."

Of course, this isn't an amateur event. This is the Super Bowl. Rather than move the game around the country, perhaps it's time to limit the game to a few sites. We'd like to suggest a four-way rotation between New Orleans, San Diego, Phoenix and Miami.

You'll notice some similarities between the cities. They are all in warm-weather climates, host NFL franchises, and are equipped to handle the onslaught of fans, media, and corporate execs.

They also have plenty of bus drivers.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.

 

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