The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Domed stadiums for all

With the NFL playoffs currently in full swing, many games, especially in the midwest, are subject to freezing temperatures and harsh snowfall. During Wild Card Weekend, a game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed after a blizzard in Buffalo led to heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures.

Snow filled the stadium and the Bills resorted to paying loyal fans $20 an hour to endure the weather and shovel out the snow. Buffalo has been dealing with extreme winters since its inception and the Bills and their most loyal fans, the Bills Mafia, have always braved the conditions in the outdoor Highmark Stadium. Highmark Stadium was built outside Buffalo in 1973, a time when only two teams, the Houston Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans, and the Dallas Cowboys had domed stadiums. Unlike many outdoor stadiums, it doesn’t have under-the-field heaters to keep the snow from freezing the turf.

Currently, there are 11 teams with domed stadiums. As many teams struggle with weather throughout the football season, domed stadiums like Ford Field, home to the Detroit Lions, allow games to be played in freezing temperatures.

Without domes, players and fans are at the hands of the elements, enduring rain, sleet, wind or snow. Not only will a dome improve the quality of late-season games, but fans will have more comfortable experiences resulting in the teams bringing in more revenue and attendance.

In addition to indoor stadiums, many including the Cowboys, Colts, Falcons, Cardinals and Texans have retractable roofs to allow another way to satisfy fans and players by allowing the weather to have an impact on the game without putting anyone in danger.

In the wake of the postponed Bills game, one reporter asked Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles about the impending climate before they take on the Lions.

“Today, it’s 13 degrees in Detroit, any special plans to acclimate the team to not only endure, but perform in those kind of frigid temperatures, should you face them in Detroit?”

Bowles responded with a hint of amusement.

“You do know we play indoors, right? They got a dome,” Bowles expressed. “I don’t, no, nothing planned. We’re indoors and only have to be outside for 20 seconds, getting off the bus, going under the thing. So, we’ll be okay.”

Although the Buccaneers players might have to brave the few seconds in the cold winters of Detroit, the dome at Ford Field provides an easy alternative to players and fans having a more enjoyable experience.

Detroit has a similar climate to many NFL teams stuck in outdoor stadiums. Many believe that NFL teams used to play through adversity and it made for legendary games. The coldest game in NFL history was the 1967 NFL Championship game correctly dubbed theIce Bowl.” The Green Bay Packers faced the Dallas Cowboys in a now legendary matchup at Lambeau Field with an average wind chill temperature at -48 degrees.

The game was filled with problems. Players couldn’t start their cars to get to the field and at the opening kickoff the ref’s whistle ripped the skin off his lips. The conditions only worsened as six members of the halftime band suffered from hypothermia and one fan died from exposure. Although many say it was a historic game, it put the players and fans in danger.

This season was home to the fourth coldest game in NFL history when the Chiefs took on the Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The game got down to -28 degrees and rivaled the conditions of the infamous “Ice Bowl.” Although fans were seemingly excited, 69 of them were sent to the hospital.

Snow games may be a fun way to gather excitement for the league, but there are simple ways to avoid the problems and the NFL will continue to postpone games to prevent unnecessary danger to everyone involved.

Many teams are playing in old stadiums and plan on upgrading soon anyway. Simply making their new stadium an indoor stadium is an easy way to stop games from being cancelled. For the die-hard fans who still yearn for the frostbite and hypothermia, a retractable roof is the answer for everyone. Teams can still make back their money with fair weather fans who will now attend these winter games and they can open the roof right at kickoff to prevent tons of snow covering the stadium but will still allow snowfall to provide for the aesthetic.

Retractable roofs and indoor stadiums are simple answers to complicated problems that can keep players and fans safe while also enjoying the environment.

This story was written by Conor McPherson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X at @ConorMcPherson_.

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