IRVING, Texas -- It will probably be cold, but it will definitely be unique. And really big.
Big Apple big.
NFL owners voted the 2014 Super Bowl to the New York-New Jersey partnership at their league meeting Tuesday, pegging the new $1.6 billion stadium to be shared by the Giants and Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., as the first outdoor, cold-weather site in the game's storied history.
"This is a unique opportunity to play the biggest game in the world on the biggest stage in the world," Giants co-owner and president John Mara said after his group won out over Tampa's bid on the fourth ballot of the league's 32 owners. "I want to thank the rest of the owners for having the guts to make history."
In fact, "Let's Make History" was exactly the motto touted by the New York-New Jersey Bid Committee, co-chaired by Jets owner Woody Johnson and Giants treasurer Jonathan Tisch, as they pitched the gamble of the taking the NFL's signature event to the Northeast in the dead of winter.
"It's going to be played outside -- and I hope it snows," Johnson said on the NFL Network set in the lobby of the Omni Hotel-Las Colinas.
Mara, sitting alongside Johnson, quickly chimed in.
"I'm not sure I agree with that, Woody," Mara replied. "Light flurries would be OK, though."
Other owners, though, clearly were against not only playing the game itself in the cold but also playing a game of chance against the odds of a brutal cold snap -- a la Atlanta, 850 miles to the south, in 2000 -- jeopardizing game-day conditions in an open-air stadium. New York failed to get a three-quarters majority (24 votes) needed on the first ballot and the ensuing re-vote that knocked third-place South Florida out of the running. Tampa, which has hosted four Super Bowls to rave reviews, blocked the three-quarters majority on the third ballot, but could not stave off a simple majority (17 votes) on the fourth.
According to a NFL source with knowledge of the voting, the final ballot may have been as close as 18-14.
"When we arrived here two days ago, we were literally told when we walked in the doorway, 'Why are you here? You don't have a chance,''' said Paul Catoe, CEO of Tampa Bay & Company, which last week landed the 2012 Republican National Convention. "We kicked and clawed our way to the point where I think there was a lot of anxiety on [New York's] part. I think they believed they'd get it on the first one."
Maybe not, but they knew they'd get it. Everybody did. The end result was a virtual fait accompli, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell firmly behind the push to play Super Bowl XLVIII across the Hudson River from the league's Manhattan office.
"Far too much has been played [up] of my role," Goodell said Tuesday. "Our job is to make sure we present three terrific bids."
Yes, but first New York had to be eligible even to compete. Goodell took care of that. In December, the league encouraged the Super Bowl Advisory Committee to waive a long-standing rule that required the game to be played in either a climate-controlled stadium or a site where average seasonal temperatures were at least 50 degrees. Once that rule was eliminated, Goodell privately lobbied owners to side with the New York bid and reward the Giants and Jets for building the new 82,500-seat next to the franchise's old home, Giants Stadium, at the Meadowlands.
The fix was in.
The Giants and Jets became the eighth and ninth franchises over the last 12 years -- joining Tampa Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit, Arizona, Dallas and Indianapolis -- to be rewarded with a Super Bowl after building a palatial new stadium.
"New York-New Jersey came in with a bid and with a new stadium and two franchises [working together], and I think there were some unique aspects in this that appealed to our membership," Goodell said. "It was a tough vote because we had three great bids."
The NY-NJ group was asked if a trailblazing cold-weather game opened the door for future Super Bowls played at similar sites. Mere hours earlier, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder told reporters, "I think Washington should get one, no matter what. It is the nation's capital."
If D.C., why not Chicago or Denver or Seattle or Philadelphia or Foxborough or anywhere?
"There's always that possibility, but let's get through this one," Mara said. "Besides, there's only one New York City."
In other news developments from the meetings:
• The league chose to table discussion of changing the overtime rules in the regular season to match the modified rules adopted at the league meetings in March designed to minimize the importance of the coin flip. "We want to continue to talk to our players and our business partners," Goodell said. "We like to take these steps incrementally and will revisit that issue after the 2010 season."
• After mostly silence on the labor front, the NFL and NFL Players Association will resume formal talks toward a new collective bargaining agreement next month. The current CBA expires next March, with the threat of a lockout by owners very real. "We continue to have dialogue on a number fronts," Goodell said. "We need to focus in on the importance of making progress in some of these key areas -- and you know all the issues." The only one that matters is revenue sharing.
• There was some discussion about moving in the future to a 17- or 18-game schedule -- or an "enhanced season" -- that would address concerns about the length (and insignificance) of the preseason. "It's been made very clear to us, by the fans and players, that the quality of the preseason and desire to compete in the preseason is not at the level it should be," Goodell said. "We have to address that issue and I would expect we would do that at our August meeting."
• Goodell said he will soon review the clinical evaluation he ordered of Ben Roethlisberger along with the six-game suspension of the Pittsburgh quarterback after Roethlisberger was accused of a second sexual assault in as many years.