Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie eager to make pitch for Super Bowl in Philly

LES BOWEN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Jeffrey Lurie says his bid to host Super Bowl in Philly will depend on success of game in North Jersey.
LES BOWEN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Jeffrey Lurie says his bid to host Super Bowl in Philly will depend on success of game in North Jersey.
Posted: March 20, 2013

PHOENIX - Bring on the snow, the sleet, the howling wind, Jeffrey Lurie said on a brilliantly sunny, mid-80s day in Arizona, a light breeze ruffling his hair, as he stood in the shade on a covered outdoor corridor at the Arizona Biltmore hotel during a break in the NFL meetings.

When asked whether he regretted his vote in favor of holding the NFL's first cold-weather, open-stadium Super Bowl next February in East Rutherford, N.J., Lurie said he did not. Then he obligingly took things a step further, for grateful Philadelphia reporters looking for a nice headline.

"Growing up in Boston, I went to more great games in snow conditions," the Eagles' chairman said during Monday's luncheon recess. "Some of the most memorable games I've ever been to were very difficult and wonderful conditions. I would have no fear of it snowing - as long as there's no public safety issue that day, I think it would be great if it's snowing a bit."

Asked whether he would then seek a Roman-numeraled game for Philly, Lurie said: "I will. Yes, I will. If it's a success. New York will help us."

Of course, since Lurie plans to wait to see whether the New York-New Jersey event is a success before getting together a bid, any Philly Super Bowl would be at least IV or V years away, maybe more like VI or VII. After East Rutherford, the 2015 game is scheduled for Arizona. Then the 50th Super Bowl apparently will go either to the 49ers' new Santa Clara, Calif., stadium or to Miami, which plans a huge stadium upgrade. Then Houston is expected to get another Super Bowl. Ditto the loser of the Miami-Santa Clara showdown.

Plus, if New York-New Jersey does work, Lurie won't be the only cold-weather, open-stadium owner with the bright idea to bring the big game to his city. Denver already put in a bid for a future Super Bowl, not waiting to see what happens next season.

Estimates on the economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl range from $200 million to more than $400 million. Since the people who want the game in their city generally are doing the estimating, the truth is hard to pin down.

Lurie's public safety caveat was a nod to the Eagles' much-derided decision to postpone a home game against the Vikings in December 2010 because of a blizzard that was forecast to strike during the game. Officials feared that they couldn't keep parking lots clear and that fans would be stranded at Lincoln Financial Field. The blizzard fizzled, and the Eagles lost when they finally played the Vikings, 2 days later.

Other highlights from the chairman's Monday chat:

* Lurie said he went to West Virginia with general manager Howie Roseman and new coach Chip Kelly to work out quarterback Geno Smith because "it's an important decision . . . we haven't had a really high draft pick in 14 years . . . It's a very important decision for us if we stay at No. 4 [overall] there. When you select a quarterback, it's a very big decision, so you want to have every piece of information you can, have as many eyes on it . . . it was an important thing."

Asked when he last went to a prospect workout, Lurie said it was 14 years ago, when the Eagles were in the process of drafting Donovan McNabb second overall. One difference there would be that most observers pegged McNabb near the top of the first round. Very few analysts see Smith as worthy of being drafted there, though he has generated a lot of buzz in the past few weeks.

The Eagles could be honestly grappling with the issue of whether Smith is a franchise quarterback - either at fourth overall or later in the first round, should they trade down. Or they could be just trying to make teams who might covet Smith nervous enough to trade up for the fourth pick.

Lurie added that West Virginia was one of three states he'd never been to before attending the workout in Morgantown. North and South Dakota were the other two.

* Lurie said the focus of the morning meeting was enhancing the fan experience in the stadium, since the experience watching at home has gotten so much better through technology (and is way cheaper). "At all times and in all ways, engage the fans and maximize the enjoyment of the fans in stadiums," Lurie said. "Also, the attachment of fans to the teams year-round, really engaging the fans as members of the Philadelphia Eagles."

Of course, some Eagles fans feel less engaged by the announcement last Friday that the team no longer will hold training camp in the intimate setting of Lehigh University. The four or five fan events team president Don Smolenski said are planned for Lincoln Financial Field might be available to more fans than Lehigh, but the setting won't be nearly as cozy.

"I loved the fan engagement [at Lehigh]," Lurie said. "Teams are trending toward bringing it all to their home facility, and finding ways, as Don has done, to really have some great fan engagement during that process, in the stadium. Bringing it into the city, which we haven't done for a while [1943], so that'll be exciting, too. Real exciting."

When Smolenski spoke of the move last week, he seemed careful not to tie the training-camp move to Kelly. But Lurie indicated Kelly and other coaching candidates preferred camp at NovaCare. Many observers felt in recent years that the Eagles trekked to Lehigh only because former coach Andy Reid insisted upon it.

"When we interviewed coaches, we asked every coach what would they prefer, because we tend to defer to the coach on this," Lurie said. "With every coach we interviewed, I think, they wanted training camp to be - if you have a great facility - to be seamless, with the facility the players are going to be training in year-round."

* Lurie, not surprisingly, remains enchanted with his new coach: "Superb. You're dealing with someone who is obsessed with football, obsessed with winning, and a very, very bright man . . . His manner of analysis and thinking is refreshing."

* Lurie said it would be a mistake to infer that because the Eagles targeted what they called "value" free agents this year, they won't pursue big-money signings again the way they did in 2011.

"I would say it's a year-by-year look at it," Lurie said. "It's no different from the stock market. You're not going to have a permanent philosophy for 10 years, you're going to adapt to the economic situation, what the opportunities are, the risk/reward, to try to maximize your situation."

* Lurie was asked what he thought the lesson was from the Eagles' ill-fated "dream team" splurge of 2011.

"First of all, not to have a player come in and call it a 'dream team,' because we never felt that," Lurie said, referring to former Eagles quarterback Vince Young. "I don't think you can take universal lessons. If you draft Ryan Leaf, does that mean you don't step up and [subsequently] draft Philip Rivers or Eli Manning? No. You understand you made an error in judgment on Ryan Leaf, and you move forward . . . It was a misevaluation, maybe of how [the free agents] would fit in, but I don't think you take any reticence from it, or become risk-averse."

* Asked about quarterback Nick Foles, Lurie said: "Nick showed an awful lot before he broke his hand - poise and accuracy. We're real excited about Nick. I think the best thing is to say 'to be determined' is how it's going to work," with Michael Vick returning on a 1-year deal. "He's going to have a great opportunity. He's really bright, he's a very hard worker, he's got all the intangibles; we just have to see how he can maximize it, or not."

Birdseed

With Jake Long signed by St. Louis, the free-agent logjam at offensive tackle might be broken. It's no accident that Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Eric Winston, and Ben Dogra, whose agency reps Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer, are milling about the hotel grounds.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

 

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