By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) “Bear Weather” is bull.
And if anyone says that they truly love attending football games played in bitterly cold temps, well, I’d say that’s a bunch of hogwash, too.
You might tolerate such weather. You may even embrace it (for a quarter). But to say that you love wearing six layers of clothes and five pairs of socks just to watch a football game held outdoors in four-degree weather?
C’mon. No you don’t.
Now, I love attending sports events in person. But I hate freezing during them. That goes for Bears games in late December and Cubs games in early April. I’m willing to suck it up and certainly have in the past, but it’s simply no true fun attending a ballgame that has you waiting for it to end more than it has you actually enjoying the experience.
As a result, I don’t at all blame the fans up in Green Bay who aren’t eager to drop hundreds of dollars for Sunday’s playoff game just for the right to suffer frostbite in temperatures as low as minus-15 degrees.
Even Cheeseheads have some sense every now and then.
But the NFL? Well, that’s a different a story.
Or, at least, it certainly is when it comes to the league’s decision to hold Super Bowl XLVIII outdoors at MetLife Stadium in cold-weather New Jersey next month. We’re still a month away from the Big Game, but it’s already a mistake – for more than one reason. And the league’s trouble selling tickets this weekend proves it.
As of today, NFL franchises in Green Bay and Cincinnati and even Indianapolis (which has a dome) were scrambling to sell thousands of remaining tickets to their playoff games on Sunday so they don’t end up suffering the embarrassment of local TV blackouts.
One could criticize the fans for not supporting the team well enough, I suppose. But that’s silly – especially considering the forecast in Green Bay. Or one could instead look at the bigger picture like Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, who wrote today: “No, the possibility of a blackout is not an embarrassment for the city of Indianapolis, any more than it’s an embarrassment for Cincinnati or Green Bay (which has sold out every game since 1959, except for a 1983 playoff game during the strike-shortened year).
“It’s an embarrassment for the NFL, which continues to handle postseason tickets in a way that makes it too difficult to sell out stadiums for the country’s most beloved and popular sport. It’s an embarrassment for a league that only had two blackouts all season, and hasn’t had a playoff blackout since 2002. It’s an embarrassment, a black eye, for the NFL, which overprices playoff tickets – and this, right after the holidays – and leaves fans with too little time to get themselves together in order to make a purchase.
“This doesn’t require any civic navel gazing; this does require the NFL to take a long, hard look in the mirror. This is not Indy’s problem, not Cincinnati’s problem, not Green Bay’s problem. It’s the NFL’s problem.”
And when it comes to tickets – and especially postseason tickets – prices are a big problem for the NFL as more and more fans are choosing to sit on their comfy couches at home and watch games on their HDTVs. But what’s really at the root of the league’s problem is greed.
Because that’s exactly what’s driven the NFL to make the foolish decision to hold its marquee event outdoors in New Jersey, and to even try to market it as something cool – “THE FIRST OUTDOOR, COLD WEATHER SUPER BOWL” – rather than just something cold. The already incredibly wealthy league so desperately wants to cash in on the wealth of nearby New York City that it’s willing to risk playing the Super Bowl in a blizzard.
Or, who knows, minus-15 weather.
Forget the comfort of the fans. They’re perfectly willing to freeze – and drop thousands of dollars – for the right to sit outdoors in the northeast during February, right? Many, of course, will. Considering the prices and potential for bone-chilling conditions, I really don’t know. But going forward, the NFL might have an increasingly difficult time getting fans to buy tickets to games –postseason and otherwise – if it doesn’t start treating them with more respect.
The league really needs to start rethinking its priorities and pricing tactics. Because, even if it’s decent weather for the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, I’ll still be glad that I’m watching it at home and the same goes for the playoff games this weekend. Freezing just isn’t worth it – physically or financially.