There’s a big freeze in Big D for the NFL’s big game, while chilly temperatures in the desert forced the PGA Tour to call off a pro-am and numerous pro and college basketball teams were left wondering whether to play or postpone games.
The winter storms rumbling across the United States eased up slightly Wednesday, although the frigid, icy and downright nasty weather still caused challenges in the sports world.
The streets of Dallas-Fort Worth were still virtually deserted, putting a temporary freeze on the festivities surrounding the Super Bowl. Temperatures are supposed to warm by the weekend, but the Packers and Steelers have already been forced to adapt. Both moved practices inside, with Green Bay working out at a Dallas-area high school and Pittsburgh at TCU’s facility.
Hundreds of flights were canceled this week, and one of the largest utility providers in Texas was using rolling blackouts to cope with high demand — though Cowboys Stadium was exempt.
The plunging temperatures and subzero wind chill readings, combined with a blanket of ice, still forced Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and other NFL officials to defend the choice of giving the game to a region where the weather can be unpredictable.
“I’m glad it was blowing that hard because I want it to blow through,” Jones said of winds that whipped so hard they ripped apart tents set up around his $1.2 billion palace. “I’m dead serious. … I just said, ‘C’mon baby, keep blowing.'”
The wind and cold were causing plenty of problems farther west, too.
At the typically warm and sunny Phoenix Open, the pro-am round was canceled Wednesday because of frozen turf. When play was called around 11 a.m., it was 35 degrees and wind gusting 25-30 mph left the wind chill in the 20s at TPC Scottsdale.
“The greens are still frozen,” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules. “The approaches are frozen. And it just would do a tremendous amount of damage if we walked on it, just tracking everything up with the greens being frozen.”
With expected overnight temperatures dipping well into the 20s, frost was expected to lead to long delays at the start of play Thursday and Friday.
“Anything could happen with the weather, but it doesn’t look good tomorrow morning,” White said. “It’s supposed to be colder. And it might be even colder on Friday. So, we’ll just see.”
Numerous pro and college basketball teams were also weighing whether to play or postpone games. The Memphis-Tulsa women’s basketball game scheduled for Thursday night was postponed Wednesday. The Lady Tigers were set to fly into Tulsa on Wednesday on a chartered flight. But the Tulsa president canceled all school activities until Monday.
The struggling Detroit Pistons attempting to fill seats by teaming with presenting sponsor PNC bank to offer up to four upper-deck tickets as a “Snow Day” option to Wednesday night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Fans willing to make the trek could call The Palace box office to reserve seats or show up at the arena about 30 miles north of Detroit before the 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
The Toronto Raptors finally had some luck when the weather allowed them out of Indianapolis on Wednesday. They had been stuck since Monday night because of the storm, team spokesman Jim LaBumbard said, and arrived in Atlanta just in time for a shootaround before playing the Hawks.
The NHL said the Blues and Colorado Avalanche will make up their game that was postponed Tuesday night in St. Louis on Feb. 22.
AP Sports Writers Jaime Aron in Dallas, John Nicholson in Scottsdale, Ariz., Larry Lage in Detroit, Michael Marot in Indianapolis, Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn. and Associated Press writer Schuyler Dixon in Fort Worth, Texas, contributed to this report.