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Play the Super Bowl -- indoors!

By Mike Downey
updated 3:27 PM EST, Wed January 29, 2014
A security guard stands in front of MetLife Stadium Saturday, February 1, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the site of Sunday's NFL championship game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. A security guard stands in front of MetLife Stadium Saturday, February 1, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the site of Sunday's NFL championship game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.
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Buildup to Super Bowl XLVIII
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mike Downey: Football gets to choose where its championship game is played
  • Why risk playing in New Jersey where rain, snow or cold could interfere?
  • Downey: Hold Super Bowls in stadiums with domes or retractable roofs
  • He says New York area fans should watch the Super Bowl -- on TV

Editor's note: Mike Downey is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

(CNN) -- Super Bowls ought to be held indoors -- and that means all of them.

Not football itself. The game of football should be played in any kind of conditions, anytime, anyplace -- day, night, indoors, outdoors, weekends, weeknights, whatever. It's all good.

UNTIL the Super Bowl. Not that. Never that.

To ensure pristine conditions for the most popular yearly event in all of American sport, the National Football League needs to book each of its Super Bowl contests in a stadium covered by (A) a permanent dome or (B) a retractable roof. No place else.

Mike Downey
Mike Downey

Super Bowl XLVIII is scheduled to be played this coming Sunday in an outdoor arena in northern New Jersey. It could snow. It could hail.

A game featuring some of the NFL's greatest stars could result in hundreds of millions of TV viewers watching these poor dudes slip, slide and shiver their XL-sized butts off.

The defending NFL champion Baltimore Ravens' quarterback, Joe Flacco, put it bluntly in 2013 when asked about holding 2014's Super Bowl outdoors in February in the New York/New Jersey region: "I think it's stupid. If you want a Super Bowl, put a retractable dome on your stadium. Then you can get one."

Fans sit in the rain as they watch Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Fans sit in the rain as they watch Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Flacco took flak for that. He also had to issue an apology for describing an outdoor Super Bowl on the East Coast as "retarded," but the opinion he was tossing out was right on the money.

What a shame to risk ruining the biggest game of the year.

No other major U.S. sport -- not baseball, basketball or hockey -- holds its championship fight at a neutral site. Those sports are forced take whatever comes -- if it's rainy in St. Louis or frigid in Detroit or wherever, hey, tough luck. That's the way the World Series ball bounces.

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Football, however, has the ability to work around this.

It chooses its site. It isn't like basketball or hockey, where the team with the best record gets the home-stadium advantage. The NFL selects its Super Bowl sites several years in advance.

Well, it selected New York/New Jersey for this one and good luck with that, guys. When this game is over, instead of Gatorade, douse the winning coach with a cooler of hot chicken soup.

Peculiar how it's Peyton Manning who must quarterback his team (the Denver Broncos) in what could be some truly unpleasant Super Bowl weather.

February 4, 2007: For the first time, Manning took his team (then the Indianapolis Colts) to a Super Bowl game, where everyone would get to see what a skillful, pinpoint passer he was. Oh, and the opponents, the Chicago Bears, had a high-flying offense of their own, scoring the second-most points of any NFL team that season. What a game this would be! There in tropical Miami -- where it rained and rained and rained.

The game was a joke. It had eight turnovers. The wet ball squirted out of players' hands. Guys slipped as if on banana peels. A great kicker missed an easy field goal. A holder fumbled the snap on an extra point. During one slapstick sequence, a Bear fumbled the kickoff, then a Colt fumbled on the next play.

Miami has been host to many a Super Bowl. It is generally warm there in January and a good time is had by all. But that Super Bowl of 2007 wasn't a game -- it was a monsoon. It put its players, coaches, referees and, worst of all, its paying spectators through four hours of misery and mess. At halftime, even the singer Prince had to sing "Purple Rain" in the rain.

With a $1,200 face value on a ticket now, is this what the NFL wants its fans to endure in years to come? The possibility of going to a championship game and coming home with the flu? Or the possibility of a final score of Seattle 3, Denver 0 in a blizzard?

Super Bowl L -- that's 50, for all you Roman numeral haters -- is booked for 2016 for a field that isn't even operational yet: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers.

It will undoubtedly be a beautiful place. But it won't have a roof.

California is having a drought, and it's not exactly an Amazon rain forest up there. But if that Super Bowl L game ends up being played in a torrential downpour, don't say we didn't warn you.

At this time, NFL teams that have a stadium with a roof are the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams (domed) and the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts (retractable).

Arizona will host the 2015 game, Houston the one in 2017. Beyond that, we shall see.

A lot of serious thought should be given to making sure that every Super Bowl is played in optimal conditions, so that the players themselves decide the outcome, not the cold, rain or snow.

South Florida and Northern California and other nice places want the game -- of course they do. Who wouldn't? But they cannot make a promise on Mother Nature's behalf. They can merely cross their fingers and hope.

As for the New York and New Jersey area being host to a game like this in February, wow, whose stupid idea was THIS?

New York and New Jersey have some of the smartest, most loyal football fans in the world. Let them watch Jets and Giants games in their stadium week after week in all kinds of weather and all kinds of clothes.

Then tell them to please be sure to watch the Super Bowl every year -- on TV.

Follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mike Downey.

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