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Monday, May 20, 2013
Super Bowl L should be for Lambeau

By Ashley Fox
ESPN.com

Lambeau Filed
Wintry weather could be a factor in Super Bowl L if it's played at Lambeau Field.

L should be for Lambeau.

The National Football League has a standard for all Super Bowls: The next must be better than the last. The league always wants more innovation, up-to-date stadiums and a constantly improving atmosphere for its signature event.

For Super Bowl L, the standard will be even higher. It will be the 50th anniversary of the game, and the league will take the opportunity to celebrate the achievement and all that the NFL has become since Super Bowl I was played in 1967 in Los Angeles.

The NFL never passes up an opportunity to remind people that its business is the greatest one in American sports. It is the most popular. It generates the most money. It commands the most dollars from its television partners. It is the leader 52 weeks a year. Fans can't get enough of the NFL, and the Super Bowl is always the most watched television event year after year after year.

That's why the NFL should hold Super Bowl L at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. What cooler way to celebrate all that the league and the sport has become than by going to the oldest, most special venue there is? What greater way to show how the game has evolved than playing its biggest game in a stadium located on a street named for Vince Lombardi? What other NFL city -- Titletown -- has its own NFL-related nickname? What other turf -- The Frozen Tundra -- does?

I can hear John Facenda calling the game from heaven, his deep, unmistakable voice making every play, every collision seem like the biggest that ever was. I can see players from both teams trying a Lambeau leap after scoring. And I can see shivering fans cheering every second of football the way it was meant to be played: outside and in the cold.

L should be for Lambeau.

It will never happen, of course. On Tuesday, the league's 32 owners will vote on the location for the 50th Super Bowl. The candidates are South Florida and San Francisco, with the Bay Area and its $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium now under construction in Santa Clara, Calif., as the front-runner. Both organizing committees have spent months preparing to make their 15-minute pitches to the owners during a brief meeting in Boston. They've spent countless hours writing their proposals and raising funds.

South Florida, and specifically Miami, has hosted 10 Super Bowls, tied with New Orleans for the most. The most recent Miami Super Bowl was in 2010 between New Orleans and Indianapolis, which the Saints won 31-17. With South Beach and all its attractions nearby, Miami is a perfectly reasonable place to hold a Super Bowl, even though the stadium leaves much to be desired.

The Bay Area has held one Super Bowl. In 1985, Super Bowl XIX between the 49ers and Dolphins was held at Stanford. San Francisco won 38-16. Certainly, with a new stadium under construction in Santa Clara, the Bay Area deserves another. The owners, at commissioner Roger Goodell's instruction, have made it a priority to reward cities and owners who build new stadiums with a Super Bowl. That's why the next one will be held in North Jersey even though the logistical headaches will be many. Traffic will be a bear. Traveling from New York City to the stadium will be challenging. The teams will not be centrally located because it is impossible to have a central location for such a massive area that encompasses two states and includes the largest city in the country.

Curly Lambeau
Green Bay renamed City Stadium Lambeau Field in 1965 after the death of team founder, Curly Lambeau.

Goodell and the owners thought it was important to stage a Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium even though the league has never held a Super Bowl at an open-air stadium in a cold-weather city. The move opened a door for teams such as New England and Philadelphia, neither of which was awarded a Super Bowl after opening new stadiums (the Patriots and Gillette Stadium in 2002, the Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field in 2003).

The NFL should open the door for Green Bay. Lambeau Field debuted in 1957 as City Stadium. It has undergone several expansions and renovations. The stadium seats 73,094, although it is undergoing an expansion of the south end zone that will add as many as 7,500 seats. As old as the stadium is, it has all the amenities that fans want, including a state-of-the-art video scoreboard and flat-screen televisions throughout.

Plus, it still has the bowl. It is as old-school as it gets.

There aren't enough places in tiny Green Bay for fans to stay, but the league has shown by placing a Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., that it doesn't care about potential travel hassles. The NFL could hold many of the events in the week leading up to the game in Milwaukee. It could house the teams there, as well as the fans, the media and the NFL employees. Then it could provide shuttles to Green Bay on game day.

Would it be ideal? No, and I know it's not going to happen. But if the league really wants to tap its rich history and its storied past and celebrate 50 years of a growing, successful business, it should hold its signature event at the most historic NFL venue there is.

Make L stand for Lambeau.