- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder yesterday formally began his push to have the 2007 Super Bowl at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., while commissioner Paul Tagliabue acknowledged significant resistance still exists among NFL owners to hold the league's title game outdoors in cold-weather cities.
Snyder yesterday named a 28-person Super Bowl task force of local business and political luminaries. The pursuit of the NFL's title game, now an unofficial American holiday and the most-watched TV program each year, represents the latest in a long series of major sports events sought by the greater Washington area.
The NFL, however, currently prohibits the Super Bowl to be played outside in cities where the average temperature in late January and early February is less than 50 degrees. Washington averages 35 degrees in January, 38 degrees in February.
"I don't know about the votes [for altering the rule]. Where the votes are I can't tell you," said Tagliabue, who yesterday spoke before the Federal City Council, a local group of businessmen. Approval from 24 of 32 team owners is required for a change. "There are certainly owners who feel the game itself could be compromised by [playing outdoors in cold weather]. But I'm pushing for this to be considered."
At the NFL's annual meeting last month in Orlando, owners held off on a vote to shelve the 50-degree rule after it became clear consensus was not imminent.
Votes on the rule and a 2007 host are now expected either this fall or next spring at the next NFL annual meeting. Should the rule be amended, both New York and Washington will formally submit bids to play host to the 2007 game. Shortly after September11, Tagliabue asked the team owners to consider changing the rule, partly as a tribute and tourism boost to the two cities struck in the terrorist attacks. The commissioner has buttressed his support for the idea by frequently mentioning the NFL's long legacy of memorable cold-weather games, including 1967's "Ice Bowl" in Green Bay.
After Tagliabue's initial suggestion, the New York Giants quickly formed their own task force, which includes Mort Zuckerman, the real estate magnate and former Redskins partner with Snyder. The New York group has conducted several meetings with league officials, and is several months ahead of Snyder in planning efforts.
"This is something we're aggressively pursuing, and I have a great deal of confidence the 2007 Super Bowl will be in Giants Stadium," said Giants co-owner Robert Tisch.
The 2007 Super Bowl is the next title game not yet tied to a city. The next four games will be played in San Diego, Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit, respectively. Detroit's game will be in the new domed Ford Field. Tagliabue yesterday downplayed the possibility of a temporary waiver of the 50-degree rule to allow bids from New York and Washington.
"The concern I've heard is that it's one thing to play a playoff game in an open air stadium in the north. But should we play the Super Bowl in those conditions? That's a different issue," Tagilabue said.
Snyder's Washington Super Bowl task force is an eclectic collection of local leaders, including the presidents of Georgetown and American universities and the University of Maryland; District Mayor Anthony Williams; and Jack Valenti, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America.
"We're ready to hold major events," said Williams, who also has been deeply involved in local bids for the 2012 Olympics and a major league baseball franchise. "If there's one thing this city does well, it's that. Going after the Super Bowl is another sign we've made every attempt post-September11 that we're open and ready for business."
Estimated economic impact for Super Bowl host cities have ranged between $250million and $450million. But debate exists within the academic community as to the legitimacy of those figures, usually compiled by the Super Bowl host committees, and how much the Super Bowl simply displaces other forms of tourism.
FedEx Field seats 86,484 and has a heated playing field. Though Tagliabue said no football stadium can play host to the Super Bowl without some minor modifications, he added little changes would be needed to the five-year-old facility. Two years ago, Snyder considered topping FedEx Field with a dome, but cost estimates of $70million scuttled that thought. Should Snyder fail in landing the 2007 Super Bowl, he said he would continue lobbying for future Super Bowls, but likely not revisit the dome idea.
"I'm really a purist in that regard. Football, in my mind, is best played outdoors," he said.
The coldest outdoor Super Bowl on record was Super Bowl VI in 1972, played in 39-degree weather in New Orleans' Tulane Stadium.

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