One game is left in the 2011-2012 season (unless you count the Pro Bowl, which I never have. Seriously, on Sunday I'm looking forward to the Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls NBA tilt and the WWE Royal Rumble more than I am the Pro Bowl—and that happens every year).
You know what that game is called, I know what that game is called, and even your grandmother—who probably never watches football—knows what that game is called.
The Super Bowl is the perfect mixture of sports and pop culture. Sure, on the surface it pits the best team from the AFC against the best team from the AFC to decide who was the best football team of a certain year—but it's more than that. It's about commercials, halftime shows, pre-game shows, pre-pre-game shows, parties, food and beer.
But there's one city in the country where the Super Bowl means more than all of that, and no, I'm not talking about one of the cities with a team participating in the game—I'm talking about the city hosting the event.
Unlike the other three main American professional sports leagues, the Super Bowl is held on a neutral site that's determined years prior to when the game is going to be played. In fact, we already know where the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Super Bowls will be held (New Orleans, the Meadowlands, Glendale, AZ).
As someone who lives in Miami (in my life time—which started in 1983—it has hosted five Super Bowls), I can tell you how big of a deal it is to the community.
It means tourists coming from all over the country (not just the two Super Bowl cities) eating in your restaurants, staying at your hotels, going to your nightclubs, drinking at your bars and buying lap dances from your girlfriends (well at least at times they make you feel like they're your girlfriends yet they never answer your phone calls).
It means a national spotlight on your city, for better or for worse.
The Super Bowl means money, and one week a year when your town is the center of the sports world. The teams usually get in on Monday, with the national and international press (and fame-monger Ines Sainz) showing up either the day before or staggering in throughout the week.
Then comes media day on Tuesday, followed by incessant coverage of events that normally you wouldn't care about, but are covered by reporters simply to make it seem to their bosses that they're actually working on Super Bowl week—so that bosses don't wise up and decide to not fly them in until Friday night.
The media will make stories out of anything, and that includes your town. If the weather is nice and the food is good, expect rave reviews. If the weather is crappy, expect to be heavily criticized.
And that's where this slideshow with the obscenely long intro and jokes about strippers comes in. Even though there are 31 metropolitan areas home to NFL franchises (I'm counting Oakland/San Francisco as one since it is the "Bay Area"), only 13 of them have thus far been home to Super Bowls, with that number only climbing to 15 by 2015.
I'm going to rank those 13 communities based on the weather, the site (some places like Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans have more than one site) and other factors that the cities had going either for or against them when holding the Super Bowl.
Now, I must admit, of these places I've only lived in one of them and personally been to three of them, so I will be studying up on some of the other attractions, restaurants and reviews of those places.
"Really? Indianapolis? Are you serious? Why would they hold a Super Bowl there?"
Odds are unless you're from Indianapolis, that was your first reaction upon hearing that Super Bowl XLVI was being held there.
Yes, it's a retractable-domed stadium (I wouldn't even say domed, I mean look at that roof, that's not a dome, that's a roof you'd see on top of a small college gym—only on steroids. Now this is a dome!). But the game itself is only a small part of Super Bowl week—there are other festivities going on around the city and, well, it's friggin cold in Indianapolis this time of year (average high in February: 39.5 degrees).
But as for the other factor Super Bowl cities have to deal with, which is crowds, Indianapolis actually has plenty of experience with them.
The city has hosted the Final Four six times and the Lucas Oil Stadium is even set up in such a way to add 7,000 seats specifically for College Basketball. It's an attempt to create the feel of a huge Fieldhouse with great seats all around, as opposed to other Final Fours held at huge domed football stadiums—where the set up of the court looks forced.
Once again, that's 7,000 more seats than the stadium has for Colts games, and 7,000 seats that will be placed elsewhere for the Super Bowl.
Then, there's Indianapolis' Memorial Day tradition: the Indianapolis 500, an event that usually draws north of 100,000 people per year.
You know, 30,000 more than the Super Bowl will be able to hold.
If any town can handle a big event, regardless of the weather, it's Indianapolis. Granted, this story might speak otherwise, however it's based off of December's B1G Championship game.
One thing to remember is that the Super Bowl crowd is mainly going to be corporate schmoozers who order a beer prior to the first quarter and still have half of it left by the two-minute warning of the first half—as opposed to a Coligiate Conference Championship game, which is mainly going to be college students, who might as well purchase their beer in bulk.
I doubt they'll be running out of beer in Indianapolis next week.
Already you're complaining about what the weather will be like in the Meadowlands. Stop. Seriously, just stop.
If you're a frequent Super Bowl attendee (i.e. the press), you should already be familiar with the New York Metropolitain area. You should know that of all of the places up north, New York and the Meadowlands is actually fairly mild. In fact, there are some days in February when it's actually pretty pleasant.
Sure you might risk the possibility of a Nor'easter or blizzard, and yes the game is going to be held outdoors, but that will actually be cool.
As for finding something to do other than the game itself; um, it's New York! Go to a Knicks, Rangers, Nets, Islanders or Devils game. Go catch a Broadway play, go to a museum, get some culture in you!
This is literally one of the few cities in the world where there's something for anyone and everyone.
I really think that the Super Bowl in the Meadowlands will be better than we expect it to be. I actually wouldn't be surprised if that year the Northeast actually had a fairly mild winter, too.
If there was any town that didn't want any bad press prior to their Super Bowl-hosting gig, it was Jacksonville.
It's not like Jacksonville is a bad town—it just has an inferiority complex. Usually it's not the first place you think of when you think "Florida," it isn't home to any theme parks and it lacks the "sexiness" of South Beach.
The Super Bowl was their way of possibly shedding that complex, but in come the writers complaining about the weather (all week it was dull and grey with some rain with temperatures peaking in the 60's: oh the horror!), the traffic flow (which was bad), the lack of hotel rooms (cruise ships were brought in to serve as rooms in order to accommodate the audience), and of course, the fact that there wasn't much to do (OK, this is true all of the time with Jacksonville).
The city was attacked throughout the week for all of these things despite the fact that they actually did quite a good job hosting the game.
But the Super Bowl is the major leagues of events, and the Jacksonville experienced proved that just because a city can host it, doesn't mean they should.
Minneapolis-St. Paul held the Super Bowl 20 years ago. This was only months before the opening of Mall of America, and years before the rejuvenation of downtown Minneapolis.
So I'm sure you can imagine how people must have felt knowing that there wasn't much to do in the week leading up to the big game.
But it was a different time back then: see it was still that time when the most important part of Super Bowl week was, well, the Super Bowl. That's what people cared about: not the activities around the city, not the weather of the city, just the game.
Now, the game wasn't that good itself, but that's not Minnesota's fault: I mean it's the Super Bowl, so you know the Vikings had nothing to do with it!
The Washington Redskins, however, did destroy the Buffalo Bills—with help from Thurman Thomas, who forgot his helmet the first Bills' series of the first half.
As for Minneapolis-St. Paul, it's worth noting that they haven't hosted a Super Bowl since.
In 1982, the NFL decided to hold their first Super Bowl in a cold weather climate, choosing the Detroit-suburb of Pontiac, MI to host Super Bowl XVI.
Inside the Silverdome it was a very hospitable 72 degrees, but outside temperatures dipped well below freezing and caused for the roads surrounding the Silverdome to get icy. As such, some fans couldn't get into the stadium on time.
Based off of this experience, you would think the Detroit-area would never host a Super Bowl again. And you were right—until 2006.
Detroit's Ford Field would host Super Bowl XL, however they would not have the weather issues nor the logistical issues caused by the weather. By all accounts, everything about Super Bowl XL was smooth sailing.
You know, except that the officials displayed an anti-Seahawks bias (according to Seahawks fans), but you can't blame Detroit for that.
On paper, Atlanta seems like a fine city to host the Super Bowl.
You have the Georgia Dome, which is a top-notch facility, a wonderful city that has experience hosting other events (not just big ones, you know, the freakin Olympics) and an airport that everyone is familiar with—because you have to connect with your other flight there, whether you like it or not.
In fact, Atlanta is a pretty safe place for a Super Bowl (unless you tick off Ray Lewis).
Well, it was safe—except in an ice storm. This is what occurred in 2000 when Atlanta hosted their last Super Bowl. Ice Storms have been known to attack Atlanta, but usually their very rare.
But not rare enough to wait a week to attack a city, and just do it during the busiest time in town at the time.
Houston is one of those cities that at times gets an unfairly bad reputation.
Yet, it has also been the site of two Super Bowls in two stadiums—both 30 years apart.
The first Houston Super Bowl was Super Bowl VIII. This took place between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings (that's how you know it was a long time ago: it featured the Dolphins vs. the Vikings!) at Rice Stadium as opposed to the Astrodome. The likely reason for this is due to the Astrodome's smaller capacity (at the time it held only 50,000 people, which isn't exactly worthy of a Super Bowl).
The second Houston Super Bowl came a season after the Houston Texans made their debut at the new Reliant Stadium, which was the site of the big game. This Super Bowl will be known more for a controversial halftime show than the great second half the game had—and again, Houston the city was overshadowed.
The climate in Houston isn't too bad. Sure, it gets very chilly and rainy, but at times in February the city can be quite pleasant.
How come nobody has called last year's Super Bowl "Murphy's Super Bowl?"
Everything that could go wrong in Dallas last year did. The Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex was slammed by snow and ice storms (can't control that; though it does tend to happen in Dallas, it's not like North Texas is North Wisconsin); there was a massive seating snafu (pin that on Jerry Jones' own greed more than anything); and to make matters worse, Cowboys fans in the area had to see a Packers vs. Steelers Super Bowl in their home.
With the exception of the last point (which is only bad for Cowboys fans really), both of those would be reasons why the NFL wouldn't return their big game to Big D, except again, the weather troubles were pure acts of God that the city couldn't anticipate (I know I'm a Miami boy, but using sand instead of salt to break up the ice on the roads?).
Look at that stadium: it was built specifically with the Super Bowl in mind.
Dallas could wind up moving further up the list once they get another crack at the Super Bowl, which they most certainly will.
Looking at this official game program of Super Bowl XIX, you would think it was played at Candlestick Park, while most of the festivities took place in and around San Francisco.
Yet, look at where it says the game was played: Stanford Stadium.
Stanford Stadium, of course, is in Palo Alto, California, 30 miles south of San Francisco and the home of Stanford University.
While it is in the vicinity, this would be akin to staging a Super Bowl in Tampa then on the cover of the program showing the Lombardi Trophy next to Cinderella's Castle.
But it's not 100 percent false advertising, as the game did feature the San Francisco 49ers—technically the first "home" team to win the Super Bowl in their own area.
Odds are, when the 49ers get their new stadium (whether it's in San Francisco or Santa Clara), the Bay Area will be home to the Super Bowl once again. Considering how nice the area is during February, this would be a good thing.
The Phoenix-area's first Super Bowl took place in 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium.
The stadium itself—despite being home to the Fiesta Bowl and earlier that year a Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship—didn't lend itself to being considered a "Super Bowl" stadium. But considering the weather in Arizona, it only made sense to hold at least one there.
The Cardinals would then build University of Phoenix Stadium in the Phoenix-Suburb of Glendale, which is more than worthy of a Super Bowl or two.
It's already held what is probably the best Super Bowl of all time, and will host another one in 2015; however there are a few issues with it:
Last call is at 2 a.m. Compare that to a city like Miami or New Orleans (where at times it seems like it doesn't even exist).
Glendale is far from Phoenix' Sky Harbor Airport, and you have to drive around to find where you've got to go.
Other than that, with the weather and the stadium, Phoenix, excuse me, Glendale, is a fine choice for a Super Bowl site.
"San Diego...MMMM drink it up, it always goes down smooth. It's a fact: its the greatest city in the history of mankind. Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Di-ago; which in German means a whale's vagina!"
While the legendary anchorman for San Diego's Channel 4 news might have been wrong about the translation, he's right about the city always going down smooth.
San Diego has hosted three Super Bowls that have each had a common theme: the beautiful weather.
San Diego's average February temperature is a high of 66 and a low of 50. A light jacket might be a good idea, but you can leave your heavy coats at home.
The downside? Don't count on San Diego getting a Super Bowl anytime soon.
The NFL prefers to host Super Bowls in newer stadiums, which Jack Murphy Stadium (I'm not a fan of naming rights and I'm too lazy to look up how to spell it's current name) is most certainly not. The Chargers are looking for a new stadium, and are constantly in the conversation of teams likely to move to Los Angeles.
With it's prime location on the western coast of Florida (and the prime weather that accompanies it), Tampa is a natural fit for a Super Bowl venue.
Looking for something to do in Tampa? There's Ybor City, Busch Gardens, and a wide array of gentleman's establishments that can keep anyone entertained.
Tampa also has a modern venue in Raymond James Stadium, which is the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Completed in 1998, the stadium is also home to the Outback Bowl as well as the University of South Florida's football team—and even has a cool pirate ship in one of the end zones.
Other events to attend this time of year include Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey, and oh yeah, Orlando and Disney World are two hours away, east on I-4.
Sure there are better Super Bowl venues, but Tampa is top-notch all the way around. Think Miami, but a bit less trendy and more quiet.
The Los Angeles-area has been home to seven Super Bowls already, and I dare you to find a better city to host the big game—well, you know, except for the lack of a Stadium built in the last 50 years, or even, ahem, a team.
Of LA's seven Super Bowls, five have been held in the Rose Bowl, with the other two held at the LA Memorial Colosseum. But their next Super Bowl (and there will be a next Super Bowl because they will get a team sooner than you think) will be held (possibly) at the new Farmer's Field, situated in LA Live, next to the Staples Center and Nokia Theater.
Thanks to their weather and plethora of things to do, Los Angeles was already a great area for a Super Bowl to be held. Add in a stadium in the middle of it all, and you have one of the best sites you could imagine (despite the fact that traffic might be a slight problem, and I'm being generous when I say slight).
Here's how God would design a place to hold a Super Bowl:
1. It would have to be a place that you would be excited to go to in February, just because you know it will be nice and warm.
2. It doesn't have to be by the water (think Arizona), but it would definitely help, especially if it's one of the most famous beaches in the country.
3. Beautiful people, even if they are somewhat shallow and superficial—it doesn't matter, you're just looking.
4. An absolutely zero percent chance that the home team will go to the Super Bowl.
5. South Beach, or Bourbon Street.
6. A state of the art modern stadium.
That's five out of six for Miami. Apparently the NFL isn't too keen on giving Miami a Super Bowl because there's no roof to protect the fans from Miami's rainstorms. This would be understandable, except a February rain storm is a freak occurrence.
It's not like they're holding the Super Bowl in August, which if that ever becomes the case, a bigger problem might arise (hurricanes, and not the football kind).
Of course I'm biased, this is my hometown, but why didn't I name it number one? Because I know this place well, and I also know that other than Biscayne Boulevard (home of Bayside, Bayfront Park, The Arscht Center for the Performing Arts, the American Airlines Arena and soon to be the possible home of a mega-casino), Coconut Grove and South Beach, it can be quite boring down here.
In fact, if you go to the Super Bowl in Miami, you'll notice that Sun Life Stadium is in Miami Gardens, and you only go around there once: during the game itself.
Unless of course you came to Miami to shop at Wal-Mart or eat at Denny's, or if you plan on betting the horses at Calder. Or, and God help you if this is the case, you're staying at El Palacio Sports Hotel (I mean just look at that building: that's what it looks like cleaned up for their website, it actually looks a lot worse!).
Why did I pick New Orleans over my own hometown?
It's New Orleans—I'm sorry, but I prefer Bourbon Street and their "welcome all comers" attitude as opposed to South Beach's cosmetic elitism.
While Cuban food is the most incredible food known to man (note: I am Cuban), Cajun food is also quite delicious.
Where do I want my bachelor party? New Orleans.
Wouldn't you want the Super Bowl somewhere where you'd want your bachelor party?
There are plenty of other reasons to choose New Orleans: Cafe du Mond is one reason, and while the weather is at times wet and chilly, you'll deal with it (and odds are you're too drunk to notice or care).
Throw in the Southern Hospitality, and you have THE perfect place for the Super Bowl.
Of course, next season it will flagrantly violate the provision that "the host team has 0 percent chance of playing in the Super Bowl," since odds are the Saints will be favorites to win their division. But I can live with that, if anything it will add to the ambiance, which it wouldn't in most other cities.
So Bleacher Report: can you send me there next year when the Super Bowl comes back?