The Super Bowl will be held in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford in less than a year, but not everyone is on the same page in terms of how the event will go. Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that his municipality and others in the area are not going to provide emergency services for the big game. Gonnelli explained that the New Jersey towns weren’t consulted in the planning process for the Super Bowl and officials don’t want to have the burden of the expenses when they get nothing in return.
Gonnelli said officials from Moonachie, South Hackensack, Little Ferry, Carlstadt and Secaucus have met and decided they won’t provide emergency services next year. He also expects the number of towns making that decision to grow. He said they were never included in the planning.
“If you watched what transpired in New Orleans and saw the amount of security that’s needed for a Super Bowl, you know I think the first thing the Super Bowl Committee could’ve done was sit back and consult with us,” Gonnelli said. “Most of our departments are volunteer. I don’t know that that committee’s ever been faced with something like that before.”
Gonnelli said the municipalities surrounding MetLife Stadium are faced with a game every Sunday during football season because it houses two NFL teams — the Giants and the Jets — and the towns get nothing in return for the services.
When asked if there was ever an understanding that there would be some compensation, Gonnelli said, “I think at one point in time there was something in the agreement with the Sports Authority but when the Giants and Jets took over, that was probably the sweetest deal that anyone’s ever gotten in the state of New Jersey. And they knocked down a stadium that still had $230 million worth of debt. So the taxpayers in the state of New Jersey are still paying every year a large sum of money for something that doesn’t exist.”
While Gonnelli said he’s never been in touch with the teams, he has spoken with New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Executive Director Wayne Hasenbalg and asked him if there would be any help available.
“Wayne was pretty clear that the Giants and Jets have so much power over the lease that they’ve signed,” Gonnelli said. “I’ll tell you a funny story. I couldn’t find Wayne’s office and Wayne said that’s because he couldn’t put a sign up without the Giants and Jets’ approval to tell us where he was.”
According to Gonnelli, the Giants and Jets get to keep the money generated through games including ticket sales, parking fees and concession sales and they also receive $17 million per year from MetLife for the stadium name while paying between $5 million and $6 million per year on the lease.
While Gonnelli hadn’t compiled an estimate of how much money Secaucus spends on a game day, he said Carlstadt Mayor William Roseman estimated it costs his municipality about $4,000 per game. “We’re probably somewhere in the same range,” Gonnelli said. “Carlstadt gets a little bit more impact because their roads are smaller leading to the stadium. It affects their residential area a little bit more. Us, it’s Route 3, both east and west.”
Game days aren’t the only times municipalities incur expenses, according to Gonnelli. “If you read the statistics, they do as many events as they do games. There was a religious event out there a few months ago and the state OEM, state police put all of us on full alert. So we had to man our volunteer firehouses, we had to activate our volunteer OEM, we had to bring an ambulance to standby, we had to mobilize police,” he said. “It cost us a pretty penny.”
In addition, Gonnelli said the MetLife Stadium is the only stadium in the country without a seat tax to help municipalities.
Gonnelli said he is hoping to get a meeting with Giants and Jets officials to discuss next year’s Super Bowl, but doesn’t expect to spend money for the big game at the stadium, though he said his municipality will handle any incidents involving Super Bowl visitors in Secaucus.
“We’re hoping that we get this meeting but quite frankly there’ll be no services that are going to cost us any money,” Gonnelli said. “Obviously we expect our hotels to be full. Secaucus is a town that has 14 or 15 hotels, 3,000 hotel rooms so we expect to handle things that happen in our own community but you can’t expect us to be sending police and fire and EMS and everybody out to the stadium, not only game day but I’m sure that entire week.”