Weather won't play a factor in Super Bowl revenue

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Tom Miller
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If you read some sports website fan forums, there is sentiment out there hoping MetLife Stadium is hit with a snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures Sunday, ruining the Super Bowl and making it the last Super Bowl ever held outdoors north of the Mason Dixon line.

They want the NFL to learn its lesson with empty stands surrounding the Denver-Seattle matchup Sunday.

The updated forecast makes that scenario unlikely. Temperatures are expected to be near 40 with 10 mph winds.

That still might be enough to keep MetLife Stadium from being packed, and will be less than optimal conditions for the NFL's biggest game.

But those figuring the league will take a financial hit if a blizzard blindsides the activities are mistaken.

In fact, wintry conditions in New York/New Jersey, as well as around the U.S. could be a benefit to the NFL.

More people staying at home mean more television viewers. And THAT is what the NFL is concerned about. The amount of people at the stadium is just background music.

That was driven home when the Packers went to the Super Bowl in 2010 at Jerry Jones' palace in Arlington, Texas.

I was fortunate enough to win a lottery among Packer season-ticket holders to purchase two Super Bowl tickets at $800 each (face value). I bought the tickets but did not want to pay hotel and air flight to Dallas and sold them to a friend.

If the game had been in New Orleans or San Diego, I would have gone. Dallas, no.

When the holders of my tickets—these were tickets issued to season-ticket holders of the game participants—they found that their seats weren't ready.

Approximately 3,200 fans at that game were told that the tickets were no good. It got them in the stadium, but the seats weren't available. The announced attendance that day was 103,219.

Think about that. There were more than 100,000 people in the stadium, but season-ticket holders of the teams that were playing in the game were the ones that got second-hand treatment.

The NFL settled with those displaced fans. The league offered the fans who got no seats at all various compensation packages: $2,400 plus a free ticket to 2011 Super Bowl, or a ticket to a future Super Bowl with airfare and four nights hotel, or a $5,000 payment (with the possibility of more than that for verified expense). The league also offered about 2,000 fans a ticket refund or a future Super Bowl ticket for being "significantly delayed" getting to their seats.

The point is fans of the participating teams are second-class. The VIPs that make of the majority of the Super Bowl crowd are NFL league and team staff members, host city officials, league advertisers, and high rollers who can afford to buy the expensive seats.

Look at the crowd Sunday. You won't see sections full of orange-clad Bronco fans or blue-clad Seahawk fans. The spectators at the game are inconsequential.

What makes the Super Bowl are the fans around the country that have money down on the game, participate in office pools or throw house parties. They have the TV sets on that establish the yearly TV ratings for the game.

The Super Bowl is basically bulletproof. The TV ratings will be there come hell or 5 feet of snow. And those ratings will allow the league to again boost its advertising rates for next year's game.

The price of a 30-second spot on FOX on Sunday will again set a record. The price of a 30-second spot during the game will surpass $4 million. According to Fox and NFL officials, advertising during the broadcast has been sold out for several weeks.

That is what drives the NFL. If there were enough hotel rooms in the area, the NFL would not hesitate to hold the Super Bowl in Green Bay.

Think of what kind of ratings that would bring. But all the league bigwigs that attend the game have to have a place to sleep, and there aren't enough hotels in Wisconsin to handle that crowd.

So don't think bad weather Sunday will “teach” the NFL not to hold games in outdoor stadiums in cold-weather environments. The league would prefer to hold its big event in places like Miami, New Orleans and San Diego.

But a blizzard now and then doesn't hurt as bad as some might think.

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