When the NFL announced the Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium in the New York/New Jersey area for February 2014, you could hear the screams from Madison Avenue. An outdoor stadium… in the Northeast… in early February… for a sporting event that only rich fat cats & corporate executives can afford to buy tickets for. Big Apple or not, Metlife Stadium isn’t exactly the kind of warm-weather climate you envision for the biggest sporting event of the year.
It’s not just the suits who are unhappy about what’s coming at Metlife. Fox, which will be heavily invested in the broadcast, has analysts who are less than pleased. Terry Bradshaw gave a piece of his mind when talking about the weather and the traffic. Who can blame him?
And if those first-world problems aren’t enough of a hassle, you have the Super Bowl committee at Metlife admonishing any potential fans from tailgating in the parking lot. Must be un-American or something. We wouldn’t want the parking lot to smell like Kansas City BBQ or have cars blocking the limos carrying the A-list celebrities who won’t even bother watching the game itself.
UFC’s successful Super Bowl weekend show formula
Hoping to capitalize on Super Bowl weekend, the UFC has previous ran PPV events in Las Vegas to capture the gambling public who loves to party and watch football. It’s been a successful formula in the past. This year, the UFC decided to run two big shows in February — one for Super Bowl weekend and a second event in late February for Las Vegas. The concept of running the Super Bowl weekend show in the same area as the Super Bowl sounded like a great idea.
However, the fight card for UFC 169 is lacking in star power. It’s headlined by Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao and Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas. It’s basically a WEC card advertised as a UFC event. And as we’ve seen recently with the UFC on Fox 9 ratings (1.8 national rating), the small guys don’t sell PPVs and they aren’t the biggest ticket sellers. Anyone under 155 pounds (Lightweight) struggles to move the needle nationally. UFC 169 could have featured a re-match between Jon Jones & Alexander Gustafsson but that was immediately dismissed for various reasons. Jon Jones is still reportedly injured. For a Super Bowl weekend show, Jones/Gustafsson would have fit the bill as a highly-desired match given how close & bloody the first encounter was. Who wouldn’t want to pay for it?
So, UFC 169 has some issues with star power. That’s OK. The fight quality should be good, although it may not make up for the celebrity deficit. Nonetheless, it’s Super Bowl weekend. What else are people going to do on a Saturday night in an area with horrible weather. They can either go to watch a great fight show or they can stay at home to avoid the bad weather.
There’s that bad weather factor again. It’s a pain in the ass for sports fans in the Northeast. And now it may become a real pain in the ass for UFC management.
The great debate over holding the Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium was all about the weather. According to ESPN New York and other New York metro news outlets, there are contingency plans in place for the Super Bowl if it cannot take place on a Sunday. If bad weather makes the situation untenable, the NFL could make a call at the last-minute to run the Super Bowl on a Monday night… or Saturday night.
Yeah, the same night as the scheduled UFC 169 PPV.
What to do?
The Super Bowl vs. UFC’s Super Bowl weekend show on the same night. Guess which party would lose that battle?
The prospects of UFC running a PPV against the Super Bowl sound completely absurd and unrealistic. And, yet, this is a possible, realistic situation staring at the face of UFC management. They are trapped. What can they do? If they cancel the show and move it back a week or up a week, it will cost a lot of money to re-do advertising, refund/reschedule tickets, and would be a disservice to fans who have already made travel plans to watch the event. However, if the UFC runs the show on a Saturday night and can’t back away from the arrangement with the Super Bowl airing that same night on television, there’s going to be some empty seats and a flat atmosphere in Newark.
I have no answers. Prudential Arena has no answers. The UFC has no answers. Fox, broadcast partner of both UFC & the NFL, has no immediate answers. This is what happens when an entity, as powerful as the NFL may be, leaves their major sporting event in the hands of Mother Nature. This may turn out to be the Super Bowl that has everyone muttering obscenities.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports