The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week
The NFL Is Wise To Spread The Wealth
On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Super Bowl LII (52) will be played in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was seen as an upset, as many suspected that New Orleans was the favorite to land the big game in 2018 (they were previously ten for ten in Super Bowl bids). The fact that the NFL just survived their first ever outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city without incident led some (myself included) to think that they might not press their luck by going back to another cold weather city again so soon.
However, unlike New York, the game in Minnesota will not be played outdoors thanks to a new one BILLION dollar indoor stadium that is due to open in 2016. Ultimately, the NFL chose to reward the city that coughed up the money to build a new stadium over the city with the better weather (plus Bourbon Street).
While the one BILLION dollar stadium was surely the determining factor, the reason I really like this decision is because it breaks from the normal Super Bowl rotation again. While the Super Bowl does occasionally land in other cities, too often its the “regulars” like New Orleans and Miami. Giving the Super Bowl to the same 3-5 cities over and over doesn’t give enough other cities the opportunity to host the biggest football game in the world. It’s one of the reasons I personally liked having the Super Bowl in New York, it was something different. However, its not like New York is some underdog that doesn’t get its fair share of time in the spotlight. So while it was a nice change of pace, it’s not the same as a city like Minneapolis getting a chance to have the whole world turn their eyes on their community for two weeks.
The idea of giving more NFL markets a chance to host a major NFL event goes hand in hand with the reports from earlier this month that the NFL was considering moving the NFL draft away from its long time host city, New York. While nothing is official yet, it sounds like the likelihood of the draft staying at Radio City Music Hall long term is very slim. With the draft currently a three day event (with the possibility of it expanding to four) it’s just too difficult to work with Radio City’s busy booking schedule.
In my opinion, this is the perfect opportunity to spread the wealth of the NFL around some more. Any city that is big enough to have an NFL team should be able to successfully host the NFL draft. While there would be some city infrastructure demands to host all the media coming to town, those demands would be significantly less than those needed to host a Super Bowl. While there would be the aforementioned media to deal with, there would not be the incoming tourists and out of town fans to deal with.
While the draft doesn’t draw out of town fans like the Super Bowl, I actually believe the draft would be better attended in smaller markets that don’t get to host big time events as often. The people of New York are used to big time events, productions, celebrities, spotlights, and major sporting events. It’s business as usual. Speaking as a Kansas City Chiefs fan, I can tell you that if KC ever gets to host the draft it would not only be sold out, but before the Sea of Red made its way inside to watch the draft you would see the world’s biggest pre-draft tailgate party. It would be a huge magnificent smelling BBQ-fest unlike anything that Radio City Music Hall has ever seen. I could also see them serving up a sampling of KC’s finest BBQ joints in the green room. Having to wait until the end of the first round to hear your name called wouldn’t seem so bad if you could sample the BBQ from places like Oklahoma Joe’s, Arthur Bryant’s, Gates, and Jack Stack while you wait.
Any city that hosted the draft could put their own unique stamp on it. It would give fans all over the country a chance to show off their home town pride for the rest of the NFL. The draft would be an easy fit in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Diego, but I think the cities it would mean the most to would be the slightly less mainstream. NFL markets like Kansas City, Denver, Green Bay, Tennessee, and Carolina could handle hosting the draft and it would bring a major NFL event to a city/region that would love a chance in the national spotlight.
The NFL is constantly trying to figure out how to grow their product (to the point of overkill). Speaking as a midwesterner, I can say that people in this part of the country often feel overlooked and under appreciated. I think the NFL is missing out by not tapping into the passion of some of the fans in the smaller markets. If you want people to turn out in masses and make a BIG DEAL about something, give it to a city/region that feels like it has something to prove, dare I say, a community that has a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to the major media markets that usually get all the attention.
Bottom line, while some NFL fans may bemoan the fact that they may have to go ice skating at Super Bowl LII instead of hanging out at the French Quarter, I think it’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see what Minneapolis has in store. I guarantee that they won’t take it for granted, that’s for sure. Hopefully, the NFL follows through with the idea to move the draft around as well. If anyone reading this happens to know Roger Goodell, pitch him the idea of a KC draft with BBQ in the green room. Seriously, how could anyone think that’s a bad idea?
Next up, my rant of the week…
Photo via Minnesota Viking PR