Mayor Rahm Emanuel put the arm on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today, making a case for a Super Bowl to be held at Soldier Field.
Don’t start making plans to buy tickets yet, however. Chicago's lakefront is often arctic in February, and the stadium might not be big enough to host a Super Bowl.
Goodell was on hand to applaud the Bears and the Chicago Park District for making Soldier Field the first NFL stadium to receive LEED certification for its environmentally sustainable attributes.
But Emanuel said he had the Super Bowl on his mind when the two met privately before the news conference. "I found out a secret, and that is the commissioner's in-laws live in the area, and I'm holding them hostage until that happens," Emanuel said.
"We talked about 'Why Chicago?' " the mayor added. "Two weeks ago, had a bunch of world leaders here, NATO summit, and if we can do that, it would be an appropriate place to have a Super Bowl.”
The NFL will hold its first open-air Super Bowl in a cold weather city in the Meadowlands in New Jersey in 2014. Goodell said the league's position on repeating the experiment will depend a lot on how things go then.
Goodell also acknowledged Soldier Field's relatively small capacity could be an issue.
But with increased seating and changes in code allowing for more people in its suites, the stadium's capacity has grown since its 2001-2003 renovation from 61,500 to about 63,500.
The home of the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, has a usual capacity of about 63,000 for football games, which would make it the smallest capacity stadium behind Soldier Field, but that was increased to about 68,000 for this year’s Super Bowl, according to the NFL. Lucas Oil Stadium also has a retractable roof, however.
Also important, Goodell said, is the need to be able to host the many people who come into the city just to be a part of the event without attending the game.