'Twas just before Christmas, when all through the land,
A seat for the Super Bowl was pushing four grand.
The League was all nervous, the forecast caused dread,
Still, visions of greenbacks danced in their heads.
There was a curious scene at MetLife stadium on Wednesday, as officials involved in planning the Super Bowl addressed concerns that holding Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2 might not have been such a great idea.
Bill Littlefield spoke with Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger.
BL: Steve, what was the message at the press conference?
SP: It was a show of force, is what it was. They stood up in front of seven plows at a dais, and they discussed their serious plans for removing snow with 800 vehicles and 1,600 workers and talked about something called 'brine capacity,' they actually used those words, about the amount of the salt that is apparently in the state borders of New Jersey, which is much more than you possibly could imagine. And the message was that no matter what event happens they will be prepared to clean the roads and the stadium.
BL: Well let's get down to some specifics here. According to your Star-Ledger column, officials have 821 plows, 60,000 tons of salt, 440 spreaders and a crew of 1,600 workers at their disposal. 30 front-end loaders, 12 haul trucks and six plows will work the parking lots if it snows on Super Bowl weekend. Are officials trying to frighten potential storms away?
SP: [Laughs] That might be part of it. That's not a bad strategy, actually, if they can make that work. I think they're more trying to reassure the family of four from Seattle who might want to plunk down $12,000 to come out here and see this game. I think that's what they're trying to do. Because people here, I mean honestly it snows here, the Meadowlands have been open since 1976, they've never postponed a game.
Other than one incident where a couple of knuckleheads threw snowballs onto the field during a game about 25 years ago, there really haven't been any snow related problems. So I don't think people in New Jersey are worried about the idea that something terrible would happen and snow the game out, but I'm sure if you live someplace else you might be a little worried to spend your money on it.
BL: I particularly like your description of how the machine called the Aero Corp Snow Melter works; "Frosty goes in, and seconds later, a hat, a scarf and a carrot come out." Did you get the sense that officials are perhaps being a bit too dismissive of the potential power of winter storms?
SP: I really didn't from them, I do think that they're certainly trying to reassure people with what they're saying. But you could make the case that the NFL certainly was dismissive of it. They were very brazen about putting the game here, and they do have contingency plans that they would play, potentially, in the middle of the week or the weekend after. But I don't think anybody believes that would actually happen considering the ratings and everything else and the parties and the people who have gathered here. So, yeah, a lot of people think they're asking for it, that's for sure.
BL: Last week's spate of winter weather in the nation's Northeast Corridor has spurred panic that the 48th edition of the NFL's crown jewel might be postponed by a major snow "event." But you say Super Bowl snow should be embraced, not feared. Right?
SP: I do and my theory on that is it would be the most memorable Super Bowl of all time, and I know a lot of people say that, 'Well, it wouldn't be good for the competition. It wouldn't be fair.' But football's an all-weather sport, you're supposed to have different conditions. It's not written in the rules it has to be 70 degrees and sunny to play a game. So I think there would be a lot of added interest for the casual fan especially if they had to play the game in the snow.
BL: The casual fan who's watching the game on television and is perfectly warm because he's turned the thermostat up?
SP: Oh exactly, and that's the thing about the Super Bowl, it's a television show first and foremost. Make no mistake about it, the 80,000 who are shelling out $4,000 to sit in the building are certainly of a secondary interest to the NFL.
This segment aired on December 21, 2013.