Baltimore will make Super Bowl host bid Modell not optimistic

Jacksonville, Dallas also will state cases

October 16, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- John Moag is finally going to get his chance to sell Baltimore as a Super Bowl site next month, a league official said yesterday.

Moag, the head of the Maryland Stadium Authority, will be invited to New York to make a presentation to league officials. Moag has met previously with commissioner Paul Tagliabue to promote the idea but hasn't made a formal presentation.

"They'll get a chance to make their case along with two or three other cities," said Jim Steeg, the league's director of special events who runs the Super Bowl.

Steeg said that two other cities that would likely be invited are Jacksonville and Dallas, both of which have hurdles to overcome.

Jacksonville has a problem with hotel space; Dallas is considered too cold.

Steeg didn't seem too enthusiastic about a northern Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium.

In addition to the usual comments that fans want to go to warm weather places for the Super Bowl to turn the trip into a vacation, he said the auxiliary press box would be a problem in an outdoor stadium in a northern climate.

The league usually creates an auxiliary press box in the stands because of the demands for media credentials. Steeg suggested it would be difficult for them to work outdoors in cold weather.

"Their computers could freeze," he said.

The league, which has played only two of its Super Bowls in domed stadiums in northern climates (Pontiac, Mich., and Minneapolis), awarded Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 to San Francisco yesterday while wrapping up the annual fall meeting.

Since the league is playing this January's game in San Diego and the next three in Miami, Atlanta and Tampa, that leaves XXXVI in 2002 as the next open date, although New Orleans is favored to get that one.

Not all of the so-called warm weather Super Bowls have been played in warm weather. Three days before Super Bowl IV in New Orleans, the fountain froze in front of the Kansas City Chiefs' hotel.

Although Tagliabue on Tuesday mentioned Washington and Seattle as two other northern cities with outdoor stadiums interested in a Super Bowl, Steeg said neither had shown formal interest in playing host to the game.

Tagliabue also said the league would draw up guidelines, but Steeg said the Super Bowl guidelines the league already has are sufficient. He indicated it's more important what kind of a presentation the cities make.

Moag not only will have to persuade the league owners to include Baltimore in the group of contenders for a Super Bowl, he would then have to persuade the owners to vote for Baltimore.

One of them who sounds as if he'll need some persuasion is Ravens owner Art Modell.

"I'd love to have it, but I'm a realist," Modell said. "I'm tired of chasing rainbows all the time. I don't want to do that anymore. With all due respect to John Moag, I think John is very persuasive and he's got good ideas, but I don't think it's as viable as he might think it is. Because if you canvas the American public who go to a Super Bowl game, they're looking to make a vacation out of it in warm weather."

Modell added, "We're going to study it. I'm not ruling it out. But personally, I'm not as optimistic as John might be. I admire his ambition and his courage to bring it up. "You want a good game. You don't want icy conditions [in which] to play a Super Bowl. You want controlled conditions. A lot of factors go into it. It's a big risk. It's too big a game. You've got 145 million people watching on television. You don't want to have players slipping around in the snow."

Moag, though, isn't bothered by the thought of players slipping around in the snow. Even Modell said the average temperature for Baltimore at that time of year is 49 degrees.

Moag said, "Football isn't palm trees and sunshine."

He feels the game should go back to its roots and also reward cities that put up public money to finance stadiums.

"Besides, they'd have a good time visiting Baltimore," Moag said.

NOTES: Since the league is committed to giving a team to Cleveland by next November and no team has indicated an intention to move there, Tagliabue said he would consider appointing a personnel chief to start planning for an expansion team there next spring.

Tagliabue decided the owners won't vote on Green Bay's plan to sell 400,000 shares of stock at $200 a share to raise $80 million for a stadium fund. Tagliabue said he'll give the go-ahead himself although he wants some modifications in the plan. He apparently wants assurance Green Bay won't use the money to buy free agents.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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