Point, counterpoint: Out in the weather or dry in a dome?


!Packers.com Staff Writer Mike Spofford says out in the weather.

No question, I'll take the weather. It's what sets football apart.

In baseball, they have to stop playing when it rains. Basketball and hockey are played indoors. The weather brings an element to football other sports don't have.

I'm not saying I would brave any weather to watch a game outdoors. I heartily admired the Packers fans who packed Lambeau Field on that frigid day in January 2008 for the NFC Championship against the Giants. I'm not sure I could have done that, but the minus-23 wind chill helped make that game even more historic than it already was. It also makes the highlights of that game, even though it was a Green Bay defeat, more nostalgic when the game is revisited.

Sure, weather conditions can tilt the game in favor of one team or another, based on the stadium, the matchups, the schemes and the personnel. But that's the way it should be.

Football in a dome is more like a video game, with no external factors other than crowd noise. The more the real game is like a video game, the less I like it.

Speaking of crowd noise, it's almost unbearable in domes, and that's another reason I prefer the more natural setting. The Metrodome is ridiculous. I don't know how anyone can think in there. The Superdome in New Orleans is another one I've been to that's ear-splitting loud. Yes, volume creates atmosphere, but when it's inside and echoing to no end, there's something artificial about the sound, even if the home team isn't pumping in extra noise like a certain team to the west used to do.

Anytime I'm in a dome for a big game, like the NFC Divisional playoff in Atlanta last year, or the Super Bowl in North Texas, I can't help but feel like something's missing from the contest. Remember back to the Packers' playoff run in 1996? Rain and slop in the Divisional round against San Francisco, then a frozen tundra the next week for the NFC Championship vs. Carolina. Super Bowl XXXI was then in a dome. That was unfortunate, in my opinion. It's the playoff games I remember more fondly from that championship season.

Yeah, I know, the current Packers team as it's constructed is built for dome football. They spread defenses out, attack at all angles through the air, pressuring the opponent with tempo and rhythm. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers loves domes because of the shoes he gets to wear, and you can bet he's looking forward to returning this week to the Georgia Dome, where last January he put on one of the greatest performances in franchise history.

The weather could hamper this team, disrupt its quest for another Super Bowl title. I don't deny that. I'd also like to see them overcome that. It will only add to the memories, and to this team's greatness.

!Packers.com Editor Vic Ketchman says dry in a dome.

Once upon a time, I really liked sitting outdoors in the raw elements to watch a football game. My dad would take me to games and I remember once how we were sitting in the cold and in a half-rain, half-snow mix, and I begged him to stay to the end of the game and he smiled and said sure, but I'm older now and I get chilled quickly, and I confess that years of sitting in the climate-controlled environment of the press box have softened me a little bit.

I mean, how do you know what to wear? What if the weather changes? I don't wanna be overdressed, but I don't want the weather man to be wrong and the next thing you know I've got to leave because my lips are getting chapped and I forgot my balm at home.

Hey, I can tailgate in the parking lot before the game; eat something healthy, preferably organic, and down a fruit juice. That's all the autumnal splendor I need. A nice piece of sushi and an apple juice on a brisk day hit the spot, and I like the idea of being close to the car's heater, in case Mr. Sun ducks behind a cloud. Yeah, nothing like a cloudburst when you're wearing a new suede coat.

A little tailgating should put a rose on my cheek – I burn easily – and then let's all head inside the dome for a soft seat and, by the way, make sure you bring a jacket with you because some of those domes can be downright drafty. I'll tell you, a couple of years ago I was in the Superdome press box and I thought I was gonna freeze to death. Fortunately, the Jaguars equipment manager sent up a coat for me, but by then it was too late to save me from the inevitable: Oh, what a cold, I got.

I don't understand why they don't put a roof on every stadium. Hey, this is the 21st Century, right? Does anybody not have an automatic garage door opener? Why do we still have to go to football games dressed like Eskimos on a hunting expedition?

Football is played better indoors. The players don't fumble as often and quarterbacks don't have to have strong arms to cut the wind because there's no wind to cut.

I'll tell you something else I like: I don't have to yell as loud to obstruct the visiting team because 10,000 people inside a dome sound like 100,000 people in an outdoor stadium. I've even heard it said that some teams that play in domes recirculate the crowd noise and amplify it through speakers strategically placed within the stadium.

That's the way football is meant to be played in 2011. Why do the fans have to do all the work? We pay good money to see these games. We gotta make noise, too?

I'm really looking forward to Sunday's game in the Georgia Dome. Of all the domed stadiums, the Georgia Dome keeps the temperature at the most even setting. That's what I'm talkin' about: a theater seat in a windless 68 degrees and three hours of old-fashioned, hard-nosed football.

If I'm not comfortable or the game's not as entertaining as I want it to be, I'll just leave.

What do you think?

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