The NFL got lucky that Super Bowl 48 went off without a hitch in New York, as the decision to have the game in a cold-weather outdoor stadium is still a bit of a head-scratcher to many.
Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II is not one of them.
Rooney is said Thursday he’s interested in exploring the potential of bringing the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh — as long as the community as a whole is prepared to rally behind the idea.
“I think it would be great for our city,” he told the Post Gazette’s Mark Belko. “This, in some people’s mind, is the birthplace of professional football. We certainly have a great tradition of being a football kind of town. I think it would be a great thing for us to do at some point.”
Pittsburgh has hosted some big-time events in the world of sports, including but not limited to: the World Series, AFC championship games, the NHL Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup finals.
However, it hasn’t held a Super Bowl, and as much as I think it would be nice for the city, I don’t really know if it should.
The city just doesn’t have the amenities necessary to host an event like the Super Bowl. While it would be a great spike for restaurant and business owners that could help them get by through a few slow months, downtown Pittsburgh is lacking a lot of what the Super Bowl requires and it would take a massive effort to accommodate the uptake in traffic.
First on the list would be hotel rooms.
The NFL has a “basic” requirement of 30,000 “quality” hotel rooms within a 90-minute drive of the stadium. Being that most of those within the 90-mile radius aren’t close enough to easily access Heinz Field, more hotels would need to be put up in the city. There are about 900 hotel rooms that will be built in the near future, but a lot more work would need to be done.
Next on the list is the fact that Heinz Field isn’t big enough.
The stadium sits 65,000 and the league typically holds the big game in stadiums that seat at least 70,000. Then there is the fact that the stadium in general is a bit below average compared to other new stadiums built in that time frame. Add to that the tendency for the playing surface at Heinz Field to be a poor one – especially in bad weather – and it is not really a great selling point to the league.
Other issues that would need to be resolved are the need for two practice facilities for the teams and transportation issues to be figured out.
Finally, there’s just not enough to do around the stadium for incoming people. Plenty of new restaurants, bars and businesses would be needed and not all would be able to survive once the Super Bowl traffic is up and gone.
There are way too many upgrades in the city that would cost a lot of people a lot of money. It’s also a project that could take up to 10 years to complete before the city could likely become attractive enough to host a Super Bowl.
No one would like to see Pittsburgh host a Super Bowl more than me, but I just don’t see it as a great idea. That just doesn’t go for Pittsburgh, it goes for most other cold-weather cities as well.
We will see in the next couple years if Rooney is serious about his efforts, but I just don’t see it happening.