CHICAGO – This is a wonderful, diverse, world-class city.
It’s just not a Super Bowl city.
At least one person feels the opposite way, and he’s trying to do something about it.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold request during a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday. Emanuel pitched the idea of hosting a Super Bowl, the world’s biggest single-day sporting event, at Soldier Field.
It seemed like a Hail Mary pass destined for failure.
At least, it seemed that way until Goodell lent credence to the proposal.
“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 told reporters while Emanuel smiled behind him. “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.”
Has Goodell ever opened a door in February in Chicago?
Shut that thing! We’re freezing in here!
Emanuel wants to deliver as many showcase events as possible to the City of Big Shoulders. Undeterred by predecessor Richard M. Daley’s unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics, Emanuel already has a NATO Summit on his mayoral résumé.
That was a three-day traffic headache, a pain to downtown businesses and a strain to the city’s police officers. But Emanuel declared the event as a success, so good for us.
But I digress.
Soldier Field has its charms, but it’s more suited for the Prep Bowl than the Super Bowl. The playing surface is messy at best and dangerous at worst, the seating capacity is smaller than any other NFL stadium, and the winter weather off Lake Michigan can be brutal.
Goodell said the league could work with a smaller venue. The next three Super Bowls are booked for New Orleans, New Jersey and Arizona with the next availability in 2016.
“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 that come in,” Goodell said. “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 a part of the event.”
Travel time to downtown from O’Hare: 17 days.
“We know the great passion for football here in Chicago,” Goodell continued. “And it’s one of the things we’ll look at if there’s an interest here in hosting.”
No doubt about it, Bears fans are some of the best in the NFL. But if a great Super Bowl is the goal, then the game should be played on a clean surface.
Yes, that sounds like sacrilege to those who fell in love with bad-weather games such as the Ice Bowl and the Fog Bowl and the Winter Weather Advisory Bowl (OK, I made that one up). But those people still will be able to enjoy games with bone-chilling temperatures and snow-covered fields late in the regular season and throughout the conference playoffs.
As for the Super Bowl, give me quality.
Give me confident quarterbacks with rocket arms and pinpoint precision. Give me ugly linemen with mean streaks and mammoth strength. Give me electrifying playmakers and hard-hitting safeties and nervous kickers and everything in between.
Oh, and one more thing.
Give me a ticket to watch the Bears play in the Super Bowl.
Some place warm.
San Diego sounds nice.
• Tom Musick covers Chicago professional sports for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.