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The Super Bowl Comes to New Jersey

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

The snowflake in the logo for Super Bowl XLVIII says it all. The game, to be held in February of 2014 in East Rutherford, will be the first cold weather Super Bowl played outdoors in history. The idea of a New Jersey-based Super Bowl faced a major obstacle—the NFL’s longstanding rejection of cold weather sites (at least without domes).

Despite this, our bid didn’t receive the chilly reception you might expect. In fact, it seemed to take on a life of its own. The appeal of something new and the allure of playing the biggest game on the biggest stage proved irresistible to the NFL’s owners. After all, the game will be played in a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium that is home to two storied NFL teams, in a region with deep football history.

In the end, our biggest obstacle became a major selling point—the prospect of a Super Bowl that will harkening back to classic league championships and iconic games played under iron gray skies. Of course, we’d also like to think that the bid committee put together a very solid bid that emphasized the tremendous strengths of the New Jersey/ New York metropolitan region. Certainly, we couldn’t have done it without the input and support of a wide range of public officials and local and state governments.

The Challenge Begins Winning the bid to play host to the Super Bowl was a tremendous achievement for New Jersey and New York. However, much hard work lies ahead. Even without the added challenge of potentially frigid weather, accommodating the largest, most watched sporting event on the planet and the week of activities leading up to it, is a daunting task. Getting the nod for the 2014 game is only the beginning.

As any municipality that has mounted a Super Bowl will attest, hosting a Super Bowl is a challenge like no other. Early on in the bidding process, our committee sought and received the cooperation and assistance of elected officials and local and state governments.

Maximizing Our Regional Advantages Fortunately, MetLife Stadium and its predecessor building; the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority; the New York City Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events; and the surrounding communities aren’t exactly new to staging big events.

The metropolitan region is blessed with unrivalled hotels, dining and entertainment options. The area also boasts other assets, such as world-class athletic training and practice facilities, large indoor and outdoor gathering places, telegenic media positions, and world-class cultural institutions.

The MetLife Stadium—designed with the latest technology, traffic control and parking, mass transit access, grounds keeping and building management, visitor amenities, media accommodations, team and training rooms—is practically turnkey. The area has the infrastructure, thanks to its leaders’ foresight and experience with large scale events, that makes hosting an event of this scale possible. This advantage will bring economic activity to the region that might overwhelm smaller or less built-out communities.

The Planning Is Underway The Host Committee, led by co-chairmen Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV and Jonathan Tisch, has taken a businesslike approach to the complex task. We’ve established a budget in excess of $50 million and identified a revenue stream that relies heavily on two dozen or so sponsorship opportunities.

The business community in our area has been unfailingly enthusiastic. The list reads like a who’s who of metropolitan area commerce and industry (check out the names at our website nynjsuperbowl.com). As you’d expect the Host Sponsors are national and global players. By mid-summer we had raised much of the money to fund the Host Committee’s activities.

We recruited a core staff of skilled professionals across a wide range of disciplines. Dozens of business, civic and community leaders served as advisors and board members. We began matching resources and people to all the areas that needed to be addressed.

This Super Bowl will be a public-private partnership. Our Host Committee is bringing those two sectors together so that each can do what it does best to support the overall effort. Items like transportation, transit, security, tourism, traffic, community relations and weather clearly need the resources that only local governments can provide. Addressing these critical “on-the-ground” aspects is complex and demanding work. The level of cooperation and enthusiasm that the Host Committee has experienced has been extraordinary.

Governor Chris Christie and his administration have stepped up to provided leadership, guidance and expertise. The New Jersey State Commissioners overseeing the Departments of Environmental Protection, Transportation, and Community Affairs, as well as NJ Transit and the New Jersey State Police have all been involved. Groups with leadership from senior-level government officials have been created for each of the critical areas of responsibility. Each group is preparing detailed plans for the event.

New Jersey Mayors serving on the 2014
NY/NJ Super Bowl XLV!!! Host Committee
Michele Rankin
Timothy McDonough
Michele Rankin
Mayor, Booton Twp.
Vice President, Volunteers
Timothy McDonough
Mayor, Hope
Senior Advisor

Finally, the NFL and the Host Committee expect that the impact of the Super Bowl will extend beyond the game itself. Undoubtedly, the economic activity generated on game day and the week leading up to it will boost local wages and local businesses. But in addition, the Host Committee is making an ambitious community relations and philanthropic effort a priority. Our goal is to extend the benefits of the Super Bowl to the larger community and to take advantage of the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the event to raise funds and touch the lives of thousands of people.

While such an effort is typical for Super Bowl host cities (the NFL suggests $1 million in donations as a minimum), our Host Committee hopes to set a new standard. We believe that our business and civic communities and our citizenry are up to the task of setting a new record for fundraising. Our area has scores of worthy charitable institutions that deserve our support. We expect to raise millions of dollars that will go back into the community. A special target of our efforts is youth programs and organizations.

Expect Big Benefits Of one thing we can be certain: the benefits of hosting the Super Bowl, even given the extraordinary effort, are well worth it. Consider that:

  • The direct economic impact upon our region of holding the Super Bowl is estimated at over $550 million.
  • Millions more will result from the widespread media coverage and publicity that will showcase the hospitality and attractions of our region.
  • Local residents will enjoy related events and the excitement of the game itself.
  • Millions in charitable donations will be distributed to local community organizations from a foundation established and funded by the host committee.

We have made a good deal of progress since being awarded hosting duties for Super Bowl XLVIII. But we have a lot more work to do as February 2, 2014 approaches. We will undoubtedly be reaching out to more and more people and organizations. We’re looking for as many as 15,000 volunteers from all our committees (a level of community participation higher than any previous Super Bowl) to help us on the ground.

Hosting the Super Bowl is a fantastic opportunity to show the world just how efficient, hospitable, sophisticated, competent and able our region is. Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, has said he’d like to see “a little snow for the game” and so would I. We can’t guarantee the weather, but we believe we can guarantee a Super Bowl like no other—for the fans and for the betterment of our area.

Editorial from New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 89, Number 8, November, 2012

 

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