Ralph Morton calls it six degrees of separation, and the Seattle Sports Commission’s executive director doesn’t think it’s a good enough reason for excluding CenturyLink Field as a future Super Bowl site.
The Seattle Seahawks’ home stadium can meet all but one of the NFL’s requirements to host a Super Bowl. Host cities with open-air stadiums are expected to have an average February temperature of 50 degrees. In Seattle, the average high is 44.
“I just don’t know how we could play a football game here on a day like today,” Morton said Friday, tongue firmly in cheek. “Players might get too much sunshine in their eyes.”
It was 50 degrees and sunny in Seattle on Friday at 3:30 p.m., the standard time for a Super Bowl kickoff. In East Rutherford, N.J., host of the Feb. 2 game between the Seahawks and Denver Broncos, it was partly cloudy and 16 degrees with a gale warning in effect.
This has some wondering: If the NFL can make an exception for New Jersey, why not the Northwest?
Sports Illustrated posted an article Friday morning on its website listing nine places it would like to see host a Super Bowl. London topped the list. Seattle was second, followed by Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, Las Vegas and Honolulu.
The Seattle Sports Commission will send a delegation to New York next week to observe the hosting process.
Morton said Seattle is not formally preparing a Super Bowl bid, but “we are trying to position ourselves so we can put it in when the time is right.”
When will the time be right?
“I don’t know,” Morton said. “Everything needs to align just right. It’s going to come down to the Seahawks and (owner) Paul Allen (wanting to place a bid). And the community will need to step up in a major way. It will be a significant effort, not something to be taken lightly.”
Seattle used to be a regular player in the Super Bowl sweepstakes after the Kingdome opened in 1976, but it gave up after losing five bids in 12 years.
“It’s like being engaged for 12 years and then being jilted,” Bill Sears, organizer of the Seattle bid, told The Associated Press when it was edged out by Minneapolis to host the 1992 game.
The NFL requires Super Bowl hosts to have a 70,000-seat stadium. CenturyLink Field seats 67,000, but capacity can be expanded to 72,000 for special events. The Seahawks averaged 68,197 fans this season.
Host cities are also required to have at least 25,000 hotel rooms. There are more than 34,000 in King County, according to visitseattle.org.
That leaves those six degrees of separation.
“If you decide to put in a bid and you don’t meet one requirement then you better knock it out of the park in another area,” Morton said.
That’s something Morton says the Northwest can do. Seattle has hosted the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship five times. Sammamish hosted the PGA Championship in 1998. University Place will host the U.S. Open golf tournament in 2015.
“We have things that are more important (than average temperature),” Morton said. “Hotels, destinations, character, food, salmon, crab, microbrews, wine, walkability downtown and light rail that’s expanding so we could have events at the University of Washington and Seattle Center. Seventy percent of the seats (at CenturyLink) are covered, and it’s a great football experience.
“I’m biased, but I think we’d knock it out of the park.”
FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES
2016Santa Clara, Calif.
2018 finalists: Miami, Tampa, Fla., New Orleans, Minneapolis, Indianapolis.
METRO AREAS as SUPER BOWL hosts
New York will become the 15th metropolitan area to host a Super Bowl when the Seahawks and Broncos play Feb. 2. It’s the first to break from the NFL’s history of choosing hosts with warm weather and/or a domed stadium.