By Peter Schwartz
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Timing is everything.
In the case of Super Bowl XLVIII, it was everything and then some. With all the concerns about the weather for the NFL’s first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city, the temperature at kickoff was 49 degrees.
Then, hours after MetLife Stadium emptied out, our area was hit with a snowstorm.
The transportation became the front and center issue on Sunday, but all of the talk leading up to the game was the weather. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL had rolled the dice and won.
Now they have to decide if they want to double down.
Timing was also a factor getting to and from the first “Mass Transit Super Bowl” because the mass transit was a massive debacle. NJ TRANSIT was overwhelmed with the number of fans who elected to use the train service. Thousands of fans waited for hours for a train back to Secaucus Junction.
So, at the end of the day, was it a success? Will the region bid to host another Super Bowl?
“I think we should,” a host committee member told me on Saturday night. “We showed that we can do a good job.”
It was certainly a financial windfall for the NFL. But should New York and New Jersey be given another chance?
In my opinion, the answer is “absolutely.” And that’s is a far cry from how I felt when we were awarded Super Bowl XLVIII. I was very skeptical about it, not so much because of the weather, but in how the region would embrace having the game.
After seeing how passionate Indianapolis was two years ago and what the game meant to New Orleans last year, I didn’t think there was any way that a region the size of ours would wrap their arms around the week and show community pride.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
All week long, whether it was at a Super Bowl event or not, people in the area were talking about the game and wearing plenty of Super Bowl apparel. This is a big reason why the host committee should take a deep breath and get back to work on another bid.
Also, I haven’t been the biggest fan of MetLife Stadium since it opened in 2010. I don’t think it’s close to being as impressive as some of the other new stadiums built around the country like Lucas Oil Stadium and AT&T (formerly Cowboys) Stadium.
But the place looked great on Sunday. And it was loud, a far cry from a typical Jets or Giants game during the regular season.
While there were some negative issues throughout the week, they would be easily fixable. These problems have to be ironed out before another bid can be submitted. That is of course if the NFL wants to try another outdoor game in a cold-weather region.
First of all, the transportation has to be better. The sooner that the NFL, NJ TRANSIT, and the host committee get together and investigate what happened, the better. An obvious issue is adding more trains and buses from New York City and New Jersey locations to get fans to the game in a timely and safe manner.
Fans were encouraged to take the train, but maybe there should have been more of an emphasis on buses. Those who went that route didn’t seem to have any problems, but it seemed like it was an option that wasn’t very well publicized.
As I see it, another issue was Super Bowl Boulevard. I liked the concept, but there were just too many people on the street and that created ridiculously long lines for many of the attractions. More on that later.
Also, N.J. has to have a bigger role in hosting the Super Bowl. Granted, MetLife Stadium is in Jersey and media day was at Newark’s Prudential Center, but the whole week was overwhelmed by events in NYC.
Believe me, I’m not about to join the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce (since you can’t make a left turn anywhere in the Garden State), but it was the NY/NJ Super Bowl, not just New York. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought that everything was going on in Manhattan.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of good things about Super Bowl week.
One of them was Taste of the NFL, the party that raises money for food banks in all NFL communities. This year’s party raised more than seven million meals and was held at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal — and it was off the charts. Chefs and players representing all 32 teams, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the N.Y., N.J. region were on hand as guests enjoyed many outstanding dishes.
And for everything that was wrong with Super Bowl Boulevard, there were positives. It gave many people from our region a chance to celebrate the biggest single-day sporting event in the world being in our area.
If the big game comes back, Super Bowl Boulevard should be done on a smaller scale, like it was in Indianapolis a couple of years ago. The main attractions should be at the NFL Experience with the Boulevard hosting something like the Toboggan Run as well as local merchants, some football exhibits, and merchandise stands. They also need to add some portable bathrooms.
All in all, I think we should give the Super Bowl another shot here. There’s plenty of time to figure out what went right and what went wrong. Local officials just need to put their thinking caps on, fix the issues, and convince the NFL that the big game should return.
And then we keep our fingers crossed with the weather!
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