January 31, 2004
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D.C.'s so unSuper in winter

By Thom Loverro

    On Monday, six inches of snow fell, many roads were not plowed and schools were closed.
    The next day was more of the same as ice blanketed the ground, schools delayed their openings, the federal government shut down early, malls closed early and some flights in and out of local airports were delayed or canceled.
    The Metro had numerous delays, with some commuters waiting more than an hour in stations.
    Welcome to Super Bowl Week in Washington.
    It's never good when a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, Bill Rice, urges people to stay home and avoid driving or using public transportation. "If you must drive, please drive carefully," Rice said. "And the same goes for pedestrians. The sidewalks are dangerous, too."
    Nothing says Washington in January like temperatures in the 20s, wind gusts of more than 40 mph, ice flying off moving cars and potholes on I-95 causing miles of traffic backups.
    Of course, as the week went on things got better with temperatures soaring into the low 40s Thursday. Sure it was colder yesterday, but by tomorrow, Super Bowl Sunday, the weather is supposed to be clear and a balmy 37 degrees. Never mind that it is expected to drop into the 20s when the sun goes down.
    Imagine that weather scenario — it's easy if you try — in late January 2008 with more than 100,000 visitors in the area for the NFL's title game. That's what might have faced the NFL if, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder wanted, the Super Bowl had been awarded to FedEx Field.
    How much fun do you think everyone would have?
    The idea of holding a Super Bowl in Washington — or New York, with conditions just as bad — seems ludicrous in light of this past week's weather.
    Down in Houston, the biggest question they have tomorrow concerning the weather is whether the roof on Reliant Stadium should be open or closed. The weather report is partly cloudy, with temperatures in the mid-60s.
    While here people have been fighting just to get to work this week, in Houston they have closed off a 16-block downtown area for outdoor Super Bowl parties, concerts and festivities.
    This is the Super Bowl — not just the game, but the orgy leading up to it. It is a weeklong event and, typically, a warm-weather event.
    "The Super Bowl game itself is almost sort of an aftermath to the whole week," Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson said when NFL owners met in October to award the 2008 game to Phoenix. "People like to go somewhere warm, somewhere fun, maybe play some golf or tennis. A cold weather Super Bowl is simply something I'm against."
    So far, only two Super Bowls have taken place in northern cities, and both of them had domed stadiums — Minneapolis and suburban Detroit. Detroit's new domed stadium will be host for the 2006 game, but NFL owners award bids to northern cities reluctantly, and so far only to cities with domed facilities.
    This idea of bringing the Super Bowl to either Washington or New York is the baby of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who initiated the movement after the September 11 terrorist attacks on both cities. But it would be difficult to imagine the Super Bowl being a successful event surrounded by a week of bad weather like we have had here. They can have all the heated tents and indoor events they want. You still have to be able to get to them, and few people were moving anywhere in Washington this week.
    Local leaders took it personally when their bid to host the 2008 game was passed over in favor of Phoenix. "The owners were simply not in touch with the bid," said Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson after it was rejected. "They missed a real opportunity to think outside the box."
    Maybe Jack Johnson could take a look outside his window sometime and get in touch with the weather.
    The Washington contingent that was so insulted at being passed over for 2008 might want to consider something worse — being awarded the game and facing weather like this past week during Super Bowl 2008. Then you would have a nation of sportswriters filing columns every day about how miserable it is to be in Washington.
    It is hard enough getting through wintery weeks like this. We don't need to add insult to injury by having the whole country making fun of our misery.

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