By David Cruz
It may not happen again any time soon. The Super Bowl, literally America’s biggest big game. Here, in Jersey. It started with hype and hope and ended with a terrible, lopsided game and a Jersey sized mass transit meltdown.
“Looking back at it, I still scratch my head wondering how they came up with the transportation plan that developed through this,” said East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella.
Cassella is still sore about what he called the NFL’s arrogance. The big game was supposed to be a shot in the arm economically for New Jersey and New York. But, with sponsor and league restrictions prohibiting the use of the Super Bowl name and logo, most of the small towns around here just couldn’t afford to take advantage of the game’s location.
“From day one when it was announced that the Super Bowl was coming to the New Jersey/New York area I always maintained that the NFL and the networks were going to up the New York aspect of that and that, in turn, would hurt New Jersey financially and I think that did happen where many people spent their dollars in New York City,” Cassella said.
But Jim Kirkos of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce said the event’s success can’t simply be measured in dollars and cents.
“You can’t just try to create a profit and loss statement for the day because the dollars and cents aren’t about the day. The dollars and cents are about the future, as well. You know, you’re preparing your region to be a destination. We are now one of a very small elite group of communities that have played host to the Super Bowl,” Kirkos said.
A year ago at this time, the region was preparing to host one of the most watched annual sporting events in the world. Look around here today and it’s almost like it never happened.
At least construction on American Dream — which some thought might be done in time for the Super Bowl last year — is actually going on now. That’s something that might work for Jersey in the future if it tries to get another big game. Dan Palsi, whose Redd’s Restaurant had the benefit of hosting an NFL-sanctioned party last year, says bring it on.
“Last year was a phenomenal day. The weather held up, it was beautiful. We had tents outside in the parking lot. The Hall of Fame had their tailgate party here. Just a great event. A lot of fun. We wish we were doing it again this year. Love to have them back. Love to have the Super Bowl back,” Palsi said.
Published reports put the state’s outlay for Super Bowl XLVIII at close to $40 million for the event’s security, transportation, and other stuff. Gov. Chris Christie — who famously roots for a different NFL team — has said he’d do it all again, but, you’re more likely to see the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl before you see the Super Bowl in New Jersey again.