NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Super Bowl week is officially under way.
The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks arrived in New Jersey on Sunday, and football fans have begun to join them.
The area will be jam-packed this week with events, games and concerts offering a full Super Bowl experience free of charge.
“We anticipate approximately 400,000 visitors to come to the region for game-related events and about 80,000 will attend the game on Sunday,” Al Kelly, president and CEO of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee said.
Planners say Super Bowl XLVIII will boost the New York and New Jersey economies by more than $500 million. It will also warm with traditional “winter chill” in New York area tourism.
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Jets owner and Super Bowl committee co-chair Woody Johnson told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane, this is an opportunity “to break the ice barrier and play (the game) in an environment where actually football should be played, in the environment outside in the weather.”
Thousands of fans braved the cold to greet both teams as they arrived in New Jersey. Denver was the first team to land at Newark Liberty International Airport late Sunday afternoon, with the Seahawks arriving Sunday night.
“I’m beyond excited,” said Toms River resident Nancy Scollan. “This is the best thing ever.”
“Just to see them come here, just to have them in our own state, it’s great,” said Cayla Molnar, a Seahawks fan from Jackson, N.J.
Both teams are staying in Jersey City.
As CBS 2’s Otis Livingston reported, some eager fans were camped out near the teams’ hotels hoping to catch a glimpse of the star players.
“We’re waiting for Peyton (Manning)!” one woman said.
“Very special day for us because we got the great team out here, the Broncos, and the Super Bowl,” another woman said. “It’s like the first time ever.”
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said he’s looking forward to an economic boost over Super Bowl week.
“We’re already seeing tens of thousands of fans here outside of the hotels from all over the country, literally,” Fulop told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Monday. “We have a coordinated plan with the chamber of commerce pushing the visitors to restaurants and establishments where they could spend their money.”
“Every hotel’s at nearly 100 percent occupancy,” Fulop said. “We want people to think of Jersey City as one of the best mid-sized cities in the country and we think from a diversity, from a culture, from a development standpoint, from a restaurant standpoint, we have a lot to offer.”
The players aren’t the only ones arriving. As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, tourists coming for the game and related festivities were being greeted at Newark Liberty by the Cicely Tyson Community School choir and volunteers offering assistance on how to get around.
“We want to make it a happy experience for everybody who comes over,” said Christie, one of the volunteers.
Huntley Lawrence, the Port Authority’s interim deputy aviation director, said everything is in place to handle the surge of visitors flying in.
“We are prepared. We are ready,” he said. “We’ve worked with our partners to make a lot of investments.”
The game will be played Sunday evening at MetLife Stadium, but the official kickoff to Super Bowl week festivities began Monday night with a fan concert — featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry and The Fray — and fireworks show at Liberty State Park. Organizers expected 5,000 people to attend the free ticketed concert on a night when the wind chills are expected to dip into the single digits.
As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, there were no complaints from fans of the bands playing Monday night as they stood on a snow-covered outdoor field.
One fan, Ryan, came with his friends from Howell, N.J. to see the concert.
“We’re here to see the Fray and the Goo Goo Dolls… we just want to be part of the activity,” Ryan said.
So did Shelly from Jersey City, who could not wait for game day.
“I would like to call it the New Jersey Super Bowl, even though people call it New York, it’s really in New Jersey,” she said. “But I think this is going to be a real Super Bowl. It’s actually cold and in the snow, the way football should be played; not in a dome where it’s all warm and everyone’s drinking margaritas. It’s going to be nice and cold.”
Governor Christie and Mayor Bill de Blasio were on hand to greet fans at the concert with the New York City skyline in the background, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.
Then on Wednesday, “Super Bowl Boulevard” opens in Times Square featuring free attractions, including concerts and skill games.
“We’ll make a truly iconic event take place on probably the most iconic street in America,” said New York City Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris.
The celebration will shut down traffic on Broadway from 34th Street to 47th Street, where the events will take place.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the party atmosphere on Super Bowl Boulevard is superseding any cold-weather jitters as New Yorkers and tourists from around the globe descend upon Super Bowl Boulevard.
“It’s fun to be here for all the excitement, the sort of camaraderie that it involves,” said Jane Mary Stewart, a tourist from Ireland and a Seahawks fan. “I think it’s a super experience.”
Broadway will include a 60-foot-tall toboggan run, a free virtual NFL theater, free autograph signings with stars, artificial turf games for kids, interactive football, free concerts, tailgating zones for hot new video games, huts for punting, passing and kicking and tents for parties.
All venues will be open daily from noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
“If you’re a fan and you just want to get a piece of it, all you have to do is walk up,” NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said to reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.
For more information about events going on around New York and New Jersey, visit, www.nynjsuperbowl.com.
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