As a note on the programming schedule, I feel obligated to remind readers that this is still a part-time thing, and I’m trying to balance it correctly. Other factors forced me to pull back a bit over the last week or two, but it was a fairly dead period for Bears news, so it wasn’t a total disaster. As we ramp back up toward the meat of the offseason (free agency/draft), I’m hopeful that it will coincide with my being able to get back to a more regular writing schedule. As always, thanks for the patience.
Now, the bullets:
- The relative success of this year’s cold weather Super Bowl has a lot of previously excluded markets, including Chicago, thinking about bidding on a future game. (This Pro Football Talk piece mentioned Denver, Philadelphia, New England, and Washington as markets that have interest.) This Associated Press story notes that the next Super Bowl up for grabs is the 2019 game (2018 hasn’t been awarded yet, but the finalists are Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and New Orleans.) That AP story reported that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had already begun lobbying for the game.
- And now, thanks to this wide-ranging David Haugh interview with Mayor Emanuel for the Tribune, we have a more-or-less official confirmation that Chicago will indeed be angling to host a Super Bowl. New from that piece? Emanuel also wants to bring the NFL Draft to Chicago. As Pro Football Talk notes, there hasn’t been much talk of the draft moving around, but it’s an idea that makes some sense. It might not change much for the viewer at home, but it would be a big deal for the market in which it takes place.
- But, back to a potential Chicago Super Bowl: as noted in the interview, there are a few obstacles in place. First, Soldier Field has the smallest capacity of any stadium in the league. That’s certainly a problem, but I’m not sure it’s a crippling one; the Super Bowl’s revenue is such a massive pie, “tickets sold” is a relatively smaller slice. It’s more of a corporate event anyway, and I’m sure the NFL would be able to find room to entertain the people they want to entertain. That might mean fewer seats available for fans, which is obviously not ideal, but it’s questionable how much that particular concern would factor into the bidding process.
- Second, and this is why I used the term “relative success” to describe the New Jersey Super Bowl: the weather still matters. It might not have had a tangible effect on the game itself (which was the main media concern in the buildup to the game), but it absolutely created a massive travel headache for people trying to leave the area. As USA Today reported, more than 2,000 flights were cancelled the day after the Super Bowl thanks to a winter storm. That means the NFL avoided a highly visible disaster by about 12 hours; instead, they had a more manageable PR issue. But it remains to be seen whether the NFL viewed this as a one-time experiment, or as a signal that the game will be played in a cold-weather city again in the future.
- So, how likely is a scenario in which Chicago hosts a Super Bowl? That’s a tough one to gauge. I’d think that if the NFL does look to offer it to a cold-weather city, Chicago has a strong a case as any; the infrastructure, hotels, public transit, downtown area, and event-hosting experience are top-notch. (No matter what the IOC says.) And as Mayor Emanuel noted, he has appointed Sam Stark as the director of the Chicago Sports Commission, a post that is dedicated to bringing events like this to Chicago. I think barring a weather disaster, a Chicago Super Bowl would be a great experience. By disaster, I’m referring to weather that interferes with the game; the league has already demonstrated a willingness to send the Super Bowl to cold-weather cities with domes that are just as susceptible to weather-related travel delays. As the bidding process gets underway, I’m sure we’ll get a much better sense of how plausible it will be.
- Finally, Charles Tillman gave his Super Bowl tickets to the family of a military veteran who was killed in Iraq. Yet another sign that the NFL gave the Walter Payton Award to the right player.