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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago to host a Super Bowl at Soldier Field, and he joked about taking some drastic measures to get what he wants.
“I found out a secret, and that is the commissioner’s in-laws live in the Chicago area,” the mayor said after meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to pitch the idea of a Super Bowl in Chicago. “And I’m holding him hostage until that happens.”
Goodell was in town Thursday to congratulate the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Park District for making Soldier Field the first NFL stadium to win LEED certification as an environmentally-friendly facility.
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Given that, Goodell was asked if Soldier Field is good enough to host a Super Bowl.
“We are, as you know, hosting a Super Bowl in New York in an open-air stadium in 2014, and we’re excited about that,” Goodell said. “We think it’s going to be a great thing for fans, and a great thing for New York. And I think if we can do it successfully there, I think that opens up doors that we’ll all be looking at.”
There could be another roadblock to hosting a Super Bowl in Chicago, besides the frigid weather in winter. Even if the NFL warms up to cold-weather Super Bowls, Soldier Field holds only about 61,500 people for football games – well short of the 70,000 seats the league normally requires to host a Super Bowl.
However, the NFL did make an exception for Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis for the 2012 Super Bowl. That stadium normally holds 63,000, but was able to expand capacity to about 68,000 for the Super Bowl.
Goodell said Soldier Field’s small size could be an issue, but he said that’s not the most important factor.
“Capacity is always an issue, but I think at the end of the day, we’d have to look at the specifics,” Goodell said. “The most important thing now is having a great stadium, and having a city that can have the infrastructure to host the hundreds of thousands of people who come in. We estimate that probably 150,000 people come in for a Super Bowl. Obviously, not everybody can get into the stadium, but they want to be part of the event.”
The mayor declined to answer questions about whether he’d be willing to expand capacity at Soldier Field to host a Super Bowl.
Emanuel said, in seeking a Super Bowl for Chicago, he talked to Goodell about the city’s success in hosting the NATO Summit in Chicago, which was the 6th largest NATO Summit in history.
“If we can do that, it’d be an appropriate place to have a Super Bowl,” Emanuel said.
Would Chicago lose money by hosting the Super Bowl? Indianapolis reportedly had a 1.3 million dollar loss.