Next year’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey has brought excitement to the state, but also challenges for organizers and local officials near the stadium. New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President and CEO Wayne Hasenbalg told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that his office is working to maximize the economic benefit for New Jersey with the Super Bowl and is reaching out to officials who are worried about the planning process.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli told NJ Today yesterday that his municipality and at least four others near MetLife Stadium would not be providing emergency services to the stadium for the Super Bowl next year because the towns haven’t been included in the planning process. Hasenbalg said in response to the interview, his office reached out to the mayor today to tell him that he and Brad Mayne, president and CEO of MetLife Stadium, would be available to meet with Gonnelli and any other mayors that are concerned.
Hasenbalg doesn’t believe local officials will be needed for the Super Bowl, saying the New Jersey State Police has been designated as the lead agency for the big game and are helping to coordinate with Homeland Security, the FBI, Secret Service and any other involved law enforcement agencies. “If there’s any need to involve local police, they’re going to be the ones making those decisions,” he said of the state police. “To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think that they believe they need that assistance at this point.”
Weather has been another major concern for next year’s Super Bowl. The NFL has plans to either move up or delay the big game in the event of a major winter storm. Hasenbalg said organizers are making plans for every foreseeable issue, including the weather. He said Gov. Chris Christie told him more than a year ago that the Super Bowl is very important to him and the residents of the state, and that he wants to ensure New Jersey looks good to the rest of the country.
“We have 15 governmental agencies who have been working, planning for the Super Bowl. And we’ve been working for a year. We’ve got six committees and we work closely with Al Kelly who’s the CEO of the Super Bowl Host Committee. So we have to plan for every contingency we can think of,” Hasenbalg said. “So we’re going to be ready.”
Some have said the NFL has too strong control over what happens at MetLife Stadium. Hasenbalg said the Super Bowl is the big showcase for the NFL, but the organization needs the support of the host city, which he plans to provide.
“It’s really a huge event for New Jersey,” Hasenbalg said. “Part of the planning that we’re doing includes a tourism and community relations committee. So the outreach the mayor [Gonnelli] was talking about yesterday is about ready to happen. We’re literally going to be reaching out to every town in New Jersey and encourage them to become participants in Super Bowl related events. We want every citizen in New Jersey to have the opportunity to be a participant in the Super Bowl in some form or fashion.”
Hosting the Super Bowl means an influx of tourism dollars, which Hasenbalg expects New Jersey to get even if the American Dream project isn’t complete by next year. “There’s a lot of direct spending that happens the week before the game and during the game. But there’s a lot of activity I think we can generate throughout this entire year to kick off the Super Bowl. That’s why we’re going to encourage towns to do Super Bowl related events to help their local businesses and people who provide services,” he said. “There’s about $550 million generated by the Super Bowl around the game and all the events. New Jersey’s going to do fine.”
While the big game will be played in New Jersey, New York will also be heavily involved in the festivities. “It’s a bi-state event and Gov. Christie has made it very clear that one of my jobs is to maximize the economic benefit to New Jersey and we’re taking that very, very seriously,” Hasenbalg said.