BAYHAM: Roger Goodell And The ‘Jersey Bowl’

There is a saying that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

In that vein, a Garden State political observer joked that if the game is a success it the game will be associated with New York City; if it’s a flop, it will be identified with the state where it’s actually being played.

While New York City is America’s largest city, giving the Big Apple the nation’s biggest sporting event was hardly a no-brainer. Concerns over logistics and weather made the decision seem absurd, though there has been a push to have a Super Bowl played in the New York area since the aftermath of 9-11 when Empire State politicians shamelessly urged that the game be moved that season from New Orleans.

Fortunately for the Crescent City’s tourism industry (which is a major part of the New Orleans economy), the NFL opted to change the game’s theme and not its location.

The emotion-driven talk of an outdoor/cold weather Super Bowl had faded.

And then the son of a former New York US Senator became NFL commissioner.

Even if MetLife Stadium were a domed facility, the site would have been undesirable. East Rutherford, New Jersey is far removed from the location of the hotels and party spots where most of the game attendees will be staying and socializing.

The eight miles separating the heart of Manhattan from East Rutherford crosses the state line at the Hudson River (no bridge issues are expected) and then over the Hackensack River. For those who went to last year’s Super Bowl, the bargain cab fare or leisurely mile stroll from New Orleans’ hotels and the French Quarter to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be dearly missed.

While that distance might seem negligible, actually getting to the venue is a complicated trek. Parking at the Super Bowl is discouraged due to traffic concerns (once again not due to any unforeseen bridge lane closures) and limited availability.

Shuttles will run from locations in New York City and northern New Jersey in addition to the operation of a rail service that drops off near the stadium. And while those mass transit options might work en route to the game, the ride home won’t be as smooth.

I took the mass transit rail option from MetLife while attending a Giants game a year ago and the line for the train was over an hour long. And that was a rain game where many of the fans had left early.

What people should expect is akin to Miami’s mass transit system during Super Bowl XLIV.

Like the upcoming game, the football stadium is nowhere close to the downtown area and the scene outside of Sun Life Stadium after the Saints won their first ever Super Bowl resembled beach scenes from the Dunkirk evacuation, with lines of fans snaking along the roadway as an inadequate transportation service chipped away at the crowd.

Many attendees who utilized Miami’s much-promoted Super Bowl shuttle didn’t arrive at their vehicles at satellite lots until after midnight.

In other words, folks attending the Super Bowl shouldn’t bother making reservations in Manhattan for a post-game dinner, unless they have 24-hour seating.

And then there is the bitter winter weather the northeast generally experiences during this time of the year, the great variable that has been on the minds of sports journalists and fans since NY-NJ was announced as the host city.

The league created numerous contingency plans in the event of bad weather, including moving Super Bowl Sunday to a Saturday, with good reason.

The year before the Super Bowl, the temperature in East Rutherford hovered in the 20s.

Though the weather is not expected to be as bad on Sunday, conditions will be far from ideal. The daytime high is projected to be 50 degrees though the temperature is expected to drop to as low as 28 degrees in the evening.

And despite holding the game in a moneyed and populous corner of the country and the excitement about the matchup between the greatest quarterback of all time and the “Legion of Boom”, Super Bowl ticket prices have been surprisingly low, with seats available for just under $1500 less than 72 hours before kickoff. Prices will tumble further come Saturday night when scalpers try to cut their losses and dump their surplus.

By insisting on playing the game within the periphery of the nation’s media center, the NFL has voluntarily invited complexities and risks in this Super Bowl they would not have tolerated for any other city that wanted to host it.

We’ll find out on Sunday evening if Super Bowl LXVIII goes down as the “New York Super Bowl” or the “Jersey Bowl”.

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