It’s strange how much enjoyment I get out of watching other people react to sporting events, movies, TV shows, etc. If someone had been filming me during Damian Lillard’s walk-off 40 footer to go to the second round of the playoffs and end Oklahoma City’s season/run of relevancy, they would’ve seen a grown man jumping up and down, pounding on the ceiling before collapsing into a heap of emotions on the ground, screaming and kicking off his shoes.
In addition to the internet being deprived of that moment, we’re also going to be kept from watching a potentially packed Paul Brown Stadium blow its non-existent roof off as the NFL shot down Hamilton County’s proposal to host a Super Bowl watch party at the Bengals home stadium, according to the Cincinnati Inquirer.
Citing logistical and legal reasons consistent with the NFL’s rules and policies, Bengals fans will have to find a house party or a sports bar if they want to gather to watch the team’s first Super Bowl appearance since the ’80s. I couldn’t figure out exactly what the NFL’s rules and policies regarding this type of gathering are, but it sounds like it had something to do with broadcasting the game inside the stadium.
If the logistical issue is they can’t figure out where to plug in the HDMI cord to set up a live stream, I’ve set up a few TVs in my day and would be happy to help. My guess is the legal side of it has to do with a broadcast rights problem that either I wouldn’t understand or is so inane that they don’t want to state it.
Hamilton County administrator Jeff Alutto said a typical game costs between $250,000 to $270,000 for security, cleanup, and other expenses, per the Inquirer. However, Hamilton County commissioner and People’s Champ Alicia Reese who proposed the idea, said the event would’ve been “a give back to the taxpayers” and “a give back to the fans.”
Cost wasn’t the only issue, though. There’s also the impromptu nature of it and all the hurdles that creates — ticketing, scheduling, turnout, weather, the previously mentioned security and cleanup. Hamilton County Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou tweeted he wouldn’t want to sit in the cold to watch the Super Bowl, because the game is to be savored at home or at a sports bar.
The hypocritical part of this is officials worried about COVID with a gathering that size.
“I don’t want to say the county is sponsoring an event with the COVID numbers as they are,” said Hamilton County Board of Commissioners president Stephanie Summerow Dumas.
According to the city of Cincinnati website, the city recorded more than 1,200 new cases in a day as recently as Jan. 16. For what it’s worth, that has dropped to less than 200 new cases per day since Feb. 1.
Regardless, eschewing an outdoor watch party to instead cram everybody into a bar or other indoor spaces prime for super spreading seems nonseical. Also, where was this concern for safety when the Bengals hosted a playoff game last month?
People who aren’t beyond over the pandemic are left sitting at home, which is fine because that’s what a lot people have been doing for a couple years now, but part of me is screaming, “You’ve waited 30-plus years to get back to a Super Bowl, and you’re going to celebrate it with a veggie tray, takeout wings, and Tostitos queso dip?!”
Concern about local businesses losing out on revenue is justified as we all know the kind of toll COVID has taken on restaurants and bars. (Shout out to all my hospitality folk.) The workers I know long ago disregarded personal safety because they needed money. I doubt Nikki and Johnny’s tip pool was at the forefront of the decision to nix the idea, but at least a few people are going to benefit from Who Dey faithful flooding local eateries and not Paul Brown Stadium.
While we’re sure to see plenty of fan reactions, the “Holy shit, look how wild they’re going in Cincy” videos will have to come from elsewhere. Let’s just hope a couple of belligerent individuals can lose their minds (on video) to the extent that it makes up for the massive crowd shot of Bengals fans cheering and throwing beers we won’t see.