Frigid Super Bowl 52 raises issues about northern venues

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - After years of planning and many millions in spending, there was one thing organizers of Super Bowl 52 couldn't control - a Minnesota winter.

The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots played inside. But as fans were heading to U.S. Bank Stadium at noon Sunday, the temperature in Minneapolis was minus-2 degrees, with a wind chill of negative 23 - by far the coldest Super Bowl on record - raising questions about whether the NFL's marquee event would ever return to Minnesota.

While warmer climates tend to be more popular host cities, a flashy new stadium and amenities often play a bigger role than the weather in determining who will host the big game.

"The owners will do as they like. So that's one of those decisions that's just not up to the fan base," said Mark Cobb, who has been to several Super Bowls in his work for the NFL Players Association. "Wherever has the newest, prettiest stadium, that's who gets the game."

Cobb, of Washington, said everyone in Minnesota was nice, and he'd return to Minneapolis for a Super Bowl. But he said the weather felt "like I was being punished. Minnesota is where they send you when you're bad. But if you embrace it like the people who live here, instead of fighting it, it's not so bad."

The NFL has used the Super Bowl as a reward for municipalities that pump public money into new venues. Minnesota was awarded the game in 2014, two years after state lawmakers approved a financing package that had taxpayers paying nearly half the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium.

Other northern cities have reaped similar benefits. New Jersey's MetLife Stadium got a Super Bowl in its fourth season, the only outdoor Super Bowl at a northern site to date (2014). Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis hosted in 2012 and Ford Field in Detroit hosted in 2006, both at the end of their fourth seasons. The only other Super Bowls held in the north were in suburban Detroit at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982 and in Minneapolis at the Metrodome in 1992.

While warmer climates have held more Super Bowls, there is no rotation of pre-selected cities that get picked, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. He said it's up to club owners to take the initial step of expressing an interest in hosting. The sites of the next four Super Bowls are already chosen: Atlanta in 2019, followed by South Florida, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.

Atlanta has a stadium that opened in 2017. Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa have been renovated in the past three years, and Los Angeles will have a new stadium by the time it hosts the game.

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