Gorman: Super Bowl in the 'Burgh? No thanks

Kevin Gorman
| Friday, May 28, 2010

Now that the NFL has opened the door — or can of worms — for cold-weather cities without a domed stadium to host the Super Bowl, it's only a matter of time before someone suggests it be played in Pittsburgh.

What's New York got that we don't?

Don't answer that.

If the NFL can waive its requirement of either a domed stadium or an average 50-degree climate to award Super Bowl XLVIII to New York/New Jersey in February 2014, it can surely do the same for Heinz Field.

"Why not?" Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. "I think Pittsburgh's got all the requirements. If you check out the South Side, Carson Street is like a long Bourbon Street. We've got a cool (river) view, the Fort Pitt view - that's a cool tunnel shot - we've got the zoo. I could go on and on.

"I'd be in favor of it. I'd need a percentage, though, since I'm promoting it. If it's just a half a percent of the revenue that the city makes, you can go ahead and put that in the contract."

That might hurt Heinz Field's cause, considering Super Bowl XLVIII is expected to generate about $550 million in revenue for New York/New Jersey. But we get your point, Ike.

Here are a handful of reasons why Pittsburgh could host a Super Bowl - and one reason why we shouldn't want it:

A championship game here would be a big boost for the local economy, as the host city also traditionally gets a five percent share of the overall ticket allotment. Even though Pittsburgh was pounded with almost two feet of snow on Super Bowl weekend this past February, so was New York.

Not that the players much care.

"You're in the Super Bowl ," Taylor said. "If they put it in Antarctica, not too many people are going to be there, but the players are going to try to enjoy it and make the best of it."

The city would have to make adjustments to meet NFL requirements, such as a stadium with 70,000-plus seats. Heinz Field's capacity is 65,050 but could meet the minimum by adding retractable seating in the open plaza in the south end zone. The league also requires 27,000-plus hotel rooms within a one-hour drive. There are currently 22,000 in Greater Pittsburgh, but more hotel space could easily be added in the next five years.

The city showed it can handle high-level security concerns this past September when it hosted the G-20 Summit. If we can accommodate world leaders without incident, we're good enough for guests such as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The city also will host the NHL's outdoor Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Heinz Field.

Then again, Goodell might not be willing to award another cold-weather city a Super Bowl until he sees how the 2014 event fares. Goodell insisted the weather exemption is a one-time occurrence, calling New York a "unique market" as the media capital of the world.

Never mind that the game will be played in Jersey.

That New York/New Jersey received a Super Bowl is believed to be a gesture of gratitude toward the Mara family, owners of one of the league's founding franchises in the New York Giants, for joining with the Jets to build a $1.6 billion stadium at the Meadowlands.

If so, the NFL owes the Rooney family a favor, too.

"If the NFL wanted Pittsburgh for the Super Bowl, we can handle it," said Craig Davis of VisitPittsburgh, the convention and visitors bureau. "If they've waived it one time, they set a precedent. Now that they've opened the door, any destination would be in the running. We couldn't start that conversation unless the Rooneys wanted it."

Whether the Rooneys want it is up for debate.

Steelers president Art Rooney II declined an interview request Thursday, and you've got to wonder whether the organization would invite the headaches that come with hosting such a beast of an event.

Here's why Pittsburgh shouldn't want the NFL title game: No Super Bowl champion has ever won the Lombardi Trophy in its own stadium.

And the Steelers are in the business of winning Super Bowls.

Not hosting them.

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