WASHINGTON — Washington, D.C. is hot for a major sporting event. The city is home to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. The metropolis was considered for the 2022 Olympic Games. The district is finalists for the 2024 Gay Games.
But the one sporting event that could bring the biggest economic payoff, the brightest spotlight, and the simplest logistics would be the Super Bowl. And now NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has revealed a new way that this could become reality.
“The bar gets raised every year,” Goodell said on Sunday during a pre-practice Q&A session with Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium. “So, someone just raised this with me before I came over here: they mentioned the idea of a joint bid in the Baltimore/Washington area, which is an interesting idea because clearly there’s an infrastructure between the two communities.”
That is certainly an “interesting” approach.
In 2014, New York and New Jersey successfully hosted Super Bowl XLVIII, with most of the weekly festivities happening under the bright lights of New York City, Media Day happening in Newark, New Jersey, and the game taking place in the Meadowlands.
The critical difference, however, is that both Baltimore and D.C. have stadiums, so who would host the game?
Glenn Clark of Pressboxonline.com offered two ways that this might work:
Perhaps a bid split between the two cities could see the Pro Bowl played the previous Sunday in Baltimore and the Super Bowl in Washington or vice versa.
Given the reputation of FedEx Field in Landover, Md., perhaps the league would like to avoid the stadium hosting a Super Bowl and would see M&T Bank Stadium as a desirable alternative with the rest of the events of the week taking place in the nation’s capital.
Both sound like great options on paper but come with a long list of complicating factors.
First of all, unlike New Jersey and New York, Baltimore and D.C. are not partners, they are competitors. With stadiums only 32 miles apart, they share one of the closest geographic rivalries of any two teams that don’t share a home stadium.
Secondly, the Washington Redskins are in the process of negotiating the location of a future stadium deal with each of the three surrounding jurisdictions: Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. When that negotiation is finalized, a Super Bowl is likely for D.C.–but that is not a spotlight that the Redskins will be excited to share with anyone, much less the team that was placed in the middle of its territory 21 years ago.
Thirdly, holding any outdoor sporting event in cold weather remains a risky endeavor despite the NFL’s success in New York/New Jersey. Weather reports called for a potential blizzard the weekend of that game, and the NFL was forced to consider the value of moving the game days or a whole week out from the game.
All is well that ends well, but don’t expect the NFL to seek out a repeat of that white knuckles experiment again soon. Especially if it requires the cooperation of two sets of owners who have no incentive to share the spotlight.