Will Super Bowl be opened up? Tagliabue says league will set guidelines for northern cities

October 15, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The NFL is going to put together guidelines to determine whether it's feasible to play a Super Bowl in an open-air, northern stadium, commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday during the owners' annual fall meeting.

John Moag, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, has met with Tagliabue to discuss the possibility of playing a Super Bowl at the new stadium being built for the Ravens at Camden Yards.

"John talked to me about it and we told him we have to look at that in terms of the open-air stadium, in terms of the weather factors," Tagliabue said. "Our Super Bowl advisory committee is trying to come up with guidelines."

Tagliabue said Washington, Baltimore and Seattle, which is building an open-air stadium to replace the Kingdome, have expressed interest in holding the Super Bowl, although he said there are probably other northern cities in that category.

The only two northern Super Bowls have been played at domed stadiums in Pontiac, Mich. (Super Bowl XVI) and Minneapolis (Super Bowl XXVI).

Philadelphia made a bid for Super Bowl XXI to be played at Veterans Stadium, but lost in a close vote to the Rose Bowl and Pasadena, Calif.

Tagliabue was noncommittal on his opinion of playing the Super Bowl at a cold-weather site. "I don't have feelings on everything," he said.

Moag has argued that the NFL should reward cities that build stadiums with public funds and points out that some of the great games in NFL history have been played in cold weather. But it's going to be difficult to persuade the owners to do it.

One owner, who didn't want to be identified, said, "Even the fans in Green Bay liked the idea of playing the Super Bowl in warm weather because they treat it like a vacation."

It's also possible that coming up with guidelines is simply a polite way to kill the idea.

This year's Super Bowl will be played in San Diego and the next three are committed to Miami, Atlanta and Tampa, Fla.

A league spokesman said it's possible the owners could award San Francisco the Super Bowl for 2003 in its new stadium that was approved earlier this year. San Francisco gave up next year's Super Bowl because it was trying to get a new stadium approved. The league hasn't awarded the Super Bowl for 2002.

The owners also spent a lot of time at the meeting yesterday discussing possible changes in the schedule format.

One option would be to start the season the week after Labor Day and end it the weekend after Christmas. That would mean eliminating the two-week break between the conference title games and the Super Bowl.

Not starting the regular season on Labor Day weekend probably would improve attendance and television ratings because so many fans are still on vacation that weekend.

Tagliabue said there would be no change in the 16-game regular-season format in a 17-week season with each team getting a bye. The owners also talked about cutting the preseason to four or even three weeks but took no action.

NOTES: A contingent from Los Angeles made a presentation to league officials to finance a new stadium with an entertainment zone in which the sales tax produced by a new stadium could help finance the facility. But legislation would have to be passed in California to make it possible, so Los Angeles is probably years from getting a new team. Tagliabue said league officials are working to improve attendance in Memphis the second half of the season. Oilers owner Bud Adams said he'll consider changing the team's nickname.

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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