The Super Bowl is played during the middle of winter, so the game should be booked for a warm weather city. That’s not always the case, however.
The first weekend of February is about one thing: Super Bowl Sunday. Since the inaugural “big game” back in 1967 the Super Bowl has been a national holiday, a winter festival to lift us out of our post-Christmas doldrums.
•New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl a record 10 times
•BRRRRR: Minneapolis hosted the game in 1992
•2016: Santa Clara, California
Because the Super Bowl is a festive occasion, and because it’s played during the cold, bitter dead of winter, players and plans alike prefer it to be held in a warm city. Popular recent locales have been Miami, Phoenix, and New Orleans, while New York and Dallas are also popular.
It seems simple enough. Play somewhere warm. If that’s not possible, play in the country’s cultural and financial capital. NFL officials haven’t always been that smart, however, and a few Super Bowls have been played in horrid places.
The Super Bowl location is so important that online sportsbooks in the US even accept bets on where future games will be played. Here are a few of the worst and best in history.
Have you ever been to Minnesota in late January or early February? If you have, chances are you never wanted to go back. As a Minnesotan myself, I can attest to the charm that Minneapolis has. But choosing it as the host of the country’s biggest sporting event during the middle of winter?
The game was played indoors in the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome, so the players and fans were comfortable. But walking from your car to stadium is enough to give you frostbite. Minneapolis is slated to host the Super Bowl for a second time in 2018. Can anyone say “bribery”?
#2: Detroit—1982, 2006
The city of Detroit has degenerated into little more than a depopulated punchline. Poking fun at this hopeless and hapless post-industrial wasteland is so easy that I won’t stoop to that level. Like Minneapolis, Detroit is freezing cold during the winter months.
Back in 1982, the city was in much stronger economic condition than it is now. But still, what made it a better location that Miami, Los Angeles, or Phoenix? Beats me.
Ironically enough, the warm-weather San Francisco 49ers beat the hard-edge Midwestern Cincinnati Bengals in the big game, proving that location doesn’t much affect outcomes.
As if that wasn’t stupid enough, the league went and made the same mistake twice, hosting the 2006 game there. That time, the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-10.
Indianapolis was a terrible choice for two reasons. The first is the cold weather (are you picking up on a trend here?), the second is that the city offers next to nothing in terms of entertainment.
For those who came merely to watch the game, no sweat. But as a rule, football fans spend hundreds of dollars on Super Bowl tickets because they want to be wined and dined while they enjoy some fun in the sun. Indianapolis offers precisely none of those things.
The only advantage is that it’s close enough to Chicago that fans could book hotel rooms there and commute to Indy for the game. But then, why not just play the game in Chicago?
#4: New Orleans—10 times
“The Big Easy” has hosted the Super Bowl a record 10 times, and its popularity isn’t hard to understand. America’s “most European city” is one of its oldest, friendliest and most culturally-rich. It also suffers from widespread poverty and rampant crime (especially since Hurricane Katrina), but tourists need not worry about that.
#5: San Diego—1988, 1998, 2003
San Diego is famed for having some of the world’s best weather, a balmy, sunny 78 degrees in both Summer and Winter. It’s also gorgeous, built in the Spanish Colonial style and home to one of the country’s most ethnically diverse populations.
There are few places on Earth I’d rather be during January, so I’m surprised that the Super Bowl has only been played there three times. The most recent being in 2003, when the Buccaneers beat the Raiders 48-21.
#6: Los Angeles—1967, 1973
Los Angeles is America’s second-largest city and the center of its entertainment industry. If you’re looking to have a good time, it’s the place to do it. It’s also home to the biggest jerks in Hollywood, but that’s another story. But it’s a great locale for a winter football game.
The first ever Super Bowl was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967. The last time LA hosted the Super Bowl was long before words like “mobile betting” or “prop” entered the lexicon. That was back in 1973.
#7: Santa Clara, California—2016
This game won’t be played until next year, but fans are drooling over the chance to watch the big dance in beautiful Santa Clara near San Francisco. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara opened this season, and the stadium (home to the 49ers) is gorgeous.
What’s not to like? The weather is perfect, the stadium is state-of-the-art, the town is charming, and it’s just a stone’s throw from San Francisco, one of America’s most beloved cities.