Keeping the Roof Off the Super Bowl Game

01
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Orange Bowl Stadium, Miami, Florida

Open air Orange Bowl Stadium, site of 5 Super Bowls in Miami, Florida, Demolished in 2008
Open air Orange Bowl Stadium, site of 5 Super Bowls in Miami, Florida, Demolished in 2008. Photo by Scott B Smith Photography/Photolibrary Collection/Getty Images

Some people say that all American football games should be played outdoors, in the elements. If the US Mail can be delivered in all kinds of weather, so can a forward pass! Let's look at some of the more famous stadium dinosaurs—you know, the ones without the fancy, high-tech roofs.

Think of the Orange Bowl, and think of a long list of Orange Bowl-All-Time Scores, beginning in 1935. This iconic open-air stadium was built for the Orange Bowl—constructed as a public works project during America's Great Depression. As a product of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of the Top 10 New Deal Programs, this football stadium hosted many of the early Super Bowls held under the sunny January skies of southern Florida.

Many people still believe that football should be played outdoors, roofless, no matter what. Consider the heartbreak when this Orange Bowl stadium was torn down and replaced with a 37,000-seat Major League Baseball stadium—with a retractable roof.

Fast Facts About Orange Bowl Stadium:

  • Location: Miami, Florida
  • Stadium Built: 1937; demolished in 2008 and replaced with Marlins Park
  • Super Bowls:
    • II, January 14, 1968
    • III, January 12, 1969
    • V, January 17, 1971
    • X, January 18, 1976
    • XIII, January 21, 1979

Super Bowls go on, but some of the old, outdoor fields have been broken down, carted away, and replaced with newer models—just like the players themselves! But today we can journey through a half-century of outdoor arenas—and imagine Super Bowls with the top down.

Source: Orange Bowl Site [accessed January 30, 2015]

02
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Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas

Open air Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas in 2013
Open air Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas in 2013. Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

It's a classic college memory—the brisk autumn breeze, the cardboard megaphones handed out by the home team, the padded schoolmates identifiable only by their jersey numbers, the school-colored pom-poms, the collective smell of Jack Daniels after every touchdown....

Rice University Stadium retains an intimacy between the fan and the player, because the arena was built for the sport of football only—no room for a track; no reconfiguration for baseball.

American football began on the college campus. Some even say that football was invented at Yale University. And then the professionals took over. Compare the college-feel of this stadium at Rice University with the corporate MetLife Stadium, and you'll get the point.

Fast Facts About Rice Stadium:

  • Location: Houston, Texas.
  • Stadium Built: 1950
  • Super Bowl: VIII, January 13, 1974

Learn More:

03
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MetLife Stadium in New Jersey

Open air MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, venue for 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII
Aerial view of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, venue for 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII. Photo by LI-Aerial/Stringer/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

At street level, MetLife Stadium from the outside looks nothing like this. You have to walk through the entry gates to view the depth of the bowl, the magnitude of a stadium that seats 82,500 football fans.

Fast Facts About MetLife Stadium:

  • Location: Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • Stadium Built: 2010
  • Super Bowl: XLVIII on February 2, 2014

Although the owners saved construction costs by building a roofless stadium, money was well-spent on the fan experience, with high definition video screens within view of every roomy individual seat. The interactive online seating charts for the New York Giants and the New York Jets give you a look at the field from each of the spectator's seats. What these fans pay for these seats is not a virtual experience.

04
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Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Open air Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, site of 2001 Super Bowl XXXV
Open air Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, site of 2001 Super Bowl XXXV. Photo by Andy Lyons/Allsport/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

Since 1998, the 103-foot pirate ship replica, complete with parrots and canons, has been the calling card of Raymond James Stadium. Never mind the Super Bowl—take me to Buccaneer Cove in the north end zone. Professional football has become all about marketing, these days. Argh!

Fast Facts About Raymond James Stadium:

  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Stadium Built: 1998
  • Super Bowls:
    • XXXV, January 28, 2001
    • XLIII, February 1, 2009

Learn More About the Pirate Ship:

05
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Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

Aerial photo of open air Dolphin Stadium, Miami, Florida, site of 2007 Super Bowl XLI
Aerial photo of open air Dolphin Stadium, Miami, Florida, site of 2007 Super Bowl XLI. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Staff/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

Landscaping is a huge part of a successful Super Bowl. Natural turf must receive sunlight and water, but not too much or too little of both. Dolphin Stadium has what is called a "Prescription Athletic Turf," which is another name for natural grass. However, it's not the ordinary lawn that you might have in your own front yard—the drainage is such that even after a heavy rainfall of three inches per hour, the field will be firm within 30 minutes. Now that's drainage!

Fast Facts About Dolphin Stadium:

  • Location: Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Stadium Built: 1987 (renovated in 2007)
  • Super Bowls:
    • XXIII, January 22, 1989
    • XXIX, January 29, 1995
    • XXXIII, January 31, 1999
    • XLI, February 4, 2007
    • XLIV, February 7, 2010

Note the spiral stairways, similar to Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Learn More:

Source: Stadium Facts, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada at www.sunlifestadium.com/stadium-facts [accessed January 30, 2015]

06
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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California during USC football game, October 7, 2006
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California during USC football game, October 7, 2006. Photo by Kirby Lee/Contributor/WireImage Collection/Getty Images

The University of Southern California (USC) has been playing football since 1888—they were glad to get this new stadium in 1923! The very first Super Bowl game was held here, in the nice, warm, sunny climate of southern California. The historic LA Coliseum is an American icon, too—architecture for a New World modeled after the ancient Colosseum in Rome.

Fast Facts About LA Coliseum:

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Stadium Built: 1923
  • Super Bowl:
    • I, January 15, 1967
    • VII, January 14, 1973

Go, Trojans!

  • USC Trojans Fan Shop
    Buy on Amazon
  • The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty by Steven Travers, 2010
    Buy on Amazon
  • The USC Trojans Football Encyclopedia by Richard J. Shmelter, 2014
    Buy on Amazon

Learn More:

07
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Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

Open air Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, site of multiple Super Bowl games
Open air Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, site of multiple Super Bowl games. Photo by Getty Images/Staff/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

A football stadium was nearly an afterthought for the hunting club who concocted a Tournament of Roses parade. Nevertheless, the first Rose Bowl game was one of the first big football games in the country, played in 1902.

Today's Rose Bowl Stadium can accommodate 92,542 fans—a capacity similar to the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Both are Super Bowl Stadia, because who wouldn't want to be in sunny southern California in the middle of January?

Fast Facts About Rose Bowl Stadium:

  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Stadium Built: 1900; totally rebuilt in 1922; enlarged in 1928
  • Super Bowls:
    • XI, January 9, 1977
    • XIV, January 20, 1980
    • XVII, January 30, 1983
    • XXI, January 25, 1987
    • XXVII, January 31, 1993

Learn More:

08
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Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Open air Levi's Stadium, Home of Super Bowl 50, in Santa Clara, California
Open air Levi's Stadium, Home of Super Bowl 50, in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

The Bay Area of California is back in the football business with a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. Naming rights have been acquired by the Levi's company, an historically appropriate fit considering the the history of blue jeans.

Fast Facts About Levi's Stadium:

  • Location: Santa Clara, California
  • Stadium Built: 2014
  • Seating Capacity 68,500 (expandable)
  • Access: Public transportation, trains, bike paths, walking trails
  • Functionally Green Construction: "net neutral" (all home games are solar powered) and LEED Gold Certification; 27,000 square foot green roof atop suite boxes; solar energy terraces and pedestrian bridges; low-flow plumbing fixtures using reclaimed water.
  • Technology: WiFi available to all seats; high-definition video boards (200 x 48 feet)
  • Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016

Compare: How does this high-tech Super Bowl stadium in California compare with the historic Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, Florida?

Source: Levi's Stadium Media Guide [accessed January 30, 2015]