Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Column: A Super Bowl in Chicago? It’s OK to dream big about showing off a new stadium.


There may be no city more perfect for hosting a Super Bowl than Las Vegas, where gambling, drinking and watching sports are always a winning combination, even if you lose your pants betting against Patrick Mahomes.

A friend of mine who went to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl described the weekend as “galifianastic,” meaning they all partied like Zach Galifianakis’ character in “The Hangover.”

CBS has done a great job of showcasing the city’s biggest showmen, from Penn & Teller to Wayne Newton to “The Chairman” to Frank Sinatra, whose song “My Way” was used in an earlier news story. -match about the bond between players and their family members. . The only thing missing was an NFL tribute to Moe Greene, the fictional Vegas gangster who fatally crosses Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”

Watching Vegas up close last week in the run-up to the Super Bowl and during the game itself, thoughts of a Chicago Super Bowl danced in my head.

Instead of Taylor Swift, we’d have our own Buddy Guy hanging out in the super suite with his South Side buddies. “Saturday Night Live” “Super Fans” would gather on “The NFL Today” to talk about “Da Bears”, “The Bear” chefs would narrate a pre-game video on our great local restaurant scene, and of course Bill Murray was showing up everywhere doing Bill Murray things.

Features Papa Bear, Coach Ditka, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, plus a hip-hop version of “Super Bowl Shuffle” during the halftime show. Sky is the limit.

Chicago, as everyone knows, has never hosted a Super Bowl, unless you count the 1977 “Super Bowl of Rock” with Foghat and Emerson, Lake & Palmer headlining at Soldier Field. (Some of us still haven’t gotten over ELP’s extended version of “Karn Evil 9.”)

But now that the Bears are getting closer to their goal of building a new domed stadium, we can finally start dreaming of a day when the whole world is focused on Chicago (or one of its suburbs) for the Big Game. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this during his press conference before Super Bowl LVIII.

Interior view of the domed Allegiant Stadium during Super Bowl LVIII, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Adam Hunger/Associated Press)

“As we’ve seen here (in Vegas), a large stadium can accommodate additional events,” Goodell said. “I think that’s true with Chicago. I think the domed stadium that they’re talking about, both downtown and potentially in Arlington (Heights), I think those are two great opportunities that they need to explore. The good news is that they have plenty of time left on their lease.

OK, so maybe this isn’t a done deal. But at least Goodell doesn’t laugh at the question.

Super Bowls held at cold-weather venues are not ideal for corporate ticket holders wanting to play a round or two of golf before the game. This is why most matches were held in stadiums in Miami, Los Angeles and New York and surrounding areas. Orleans. The next three are planned for New Orleans (2025), Santa Clara, California (2026) and Los Angeles (2027). After the success of this year’s edition, Las Vegas will undoubtedly have another one soon.

But anti-cold sentiment in the city has changed this century, and even East Rutherford, New Jersey, hosted the game at MetLife Stadium in 2014 when the temperature turned out to be a relatively balmy 49 degrees, or about what it was in Chicago last week. . Detroit (2006), Indianapolis (2012), and Minneapolis (2018) have also hosted the Super Bowl in their domed stadiums, and fans attending the games likely found something to do in these cities during the days and hours cold weather preceding kick-off.

If the Bears build it, a Super Bowl could happen. But that’s a big “if.”

The Bears have spent so long discussing a new stadium that it appears it’s already on the way. There’s obviously a long way to go, but at least the Bears are making this sound epic. President and CEO Kevin Warren told the Tribune’s Dan Wiederer last summer that he wanted the new stadium to be an experience everyone remembers.

“I really want people to get goosebumps,” Warren said. “I want tears. I want you to be choked up when you hear this national anthem.

We’re getting choked up just by Jennifer Hudson’s Chicago Super Bowl anthem. I hope we don’t shed any tears because the Green Bay Packers are playing that day.

Allegiant Stadium, home of the Super Bowl 58 football game, stands in front of snow-capped mountains, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Las Vegas.  The Kansas City Chiefs will play the NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Allegiant Stadium stands in front of snow-capped mountains, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

So when could that happen, assuming the Bears eventually decide on a new site and start building?

Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, began construction in November 2017 and hosted a Super Bowl in February 2024, just over six years later. If the Bears get shovels in the ground by next year, we might be able to host one by 2031 if the NFL cooperates.

It’s all still a pipe dream, and perhaps a Super Bowl hosted in Chicago will never happen. After all, we are talking about the Bears. They promised a brighter stadium experience to fans before Justin Fields was born, and even a domed stadium plan is nothing new.

In 1995, when the idea of ​​a lakefront McDome was introduced, a Tribune poll found that 44 percent of respondents favored a domed stadium, compared to 41 percent who liked the idea of an outdoor installation. Among self-identified “Bears fans,” 47% preferred an open-air stadium to 45% favoring a dome.

At the time, Bears president Michael McCaskey said a dome was “so far from what most fans want and what all the players want.” They want to be outside, on green grass, under the open sky. At least his brother, President George McCaskey, understands that the idea that Bears fans love to sit through “Bears time” at Soldier Field in December is a tired anachronism.

All they really want is to see a perennial winner, a concept foreign to the McCaskeys.

With 2024 a crucial year for both the team and the stadium issue, the question that needs to be asked is whether the Bears will advance to a Super Bowl before Chicago has a chance to host one. The chances of either happening are low at this point.

Maybe a “Super Bowl of Rock” reboot will have to do.



Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.chicagotribune.com

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