With the weather heating up, baseball in full swing, and the NBA playoffs ongoing, it may not seem like time to think about 2013-2014 football season. But with MetLife Stadium playing host to Super Bowl XLVIII next February, there are various efforts underway for local towns to shore up dollars and other resources so Hudson County can fully benefit from the event. Right now, cities from New York to Secaucus are lobbying and jockeying to line up funding and other support for their Super Bowl-related activities.
The money hunt
As it stands now, officials in Jersey City, Hoboken, and Secaucus – the three Hudson County cities that will be most involved in the upcoming game – say they expect their restaurant and hospitality businesses to fare well during Super Bowl week.
“I think our hotels will be completely booked,” said Secaucus mayor Michael Gonnelli, whose town of less than 16,000 people is the closest Hudson County municipality to Met Life Stadium. “I doubt we’ll get a lot of ticketholders who are going to the game. But I think we’ll get a lot of people who will be in town to work, like TV reporters and other media who have to get to and from the stadium each day to cover some aspect of Super Bowl week.
Cliff Adams, chief financial officer with Jersey City’s Economic Development Corporation, agreed.
Two Jersey City hotels – the Westin and the Hyatt – will host the AFC and NCF champs who will play each other in Super Bowl XLVIII, and Adams said Jersey City can expect these and other hotels in the area to do well.
“Our hotel industry will do very well, as will some of the businesses in the Newport area,” said Adams. “I think Newport Mall could very well, too.”
Three prospective events, including one in Secaucus and another from Hoboken, have been submitted for consideration by the host committee.
But what will this mean for businesses outside the “Huddle Zones”?
“What all of this will mean for our businesses in the inner part of our city is anyone’s guess right now,” said a public official in Jersey City.
One of the biggest challenges facing municipalities right now is getting enough funding to host and market events that might pull tourists to their destination areas.
“The host committee set up a website [two weeks ago] and through their website (www.nynjsuperbowl.com) organizations can submit a proposed event to be considered for communication support by the Super Bowl Host Committee,” said Bill LaRosa, director of the Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs and Tourism. “So, if a nonprofit wants to do an event around Super Bowl week, they can submit that [idea] and if it is well received they can get some promotion for it through social media and other promotion. But there is no money. That’s what they offer for events. Anyone who has ambitious plans, they have to secure money from local sponsors.”
Events that appeal primarily to local residents, he said, are not eligible even for promotional support.
Thus far, LaRosa said three prospective events, including one in Secaucus and another from Hoboken, have been submitted for consideration by the host committee.
Depending on funding availability, Gonnelli wants to host a Super Bowl “Winter Blast” in town. The concept would turn the Secaucus Plaza into a winter wonderland complete with snow and ice makers that will allow for winter fun and games like snowman-making and ice skating in the center of town.
“We have a potential corporate sponsor we’re talking to right now,” said Gonnelli.
Secaucus is also planning to hold a taste of the town-type tented event at Harmon Meadow.
City Hall in Jersey City did not respond to several inquiries seeking information regarding what plans Jersey City has in the works for Super Bowl week.
Gonnelli has been outspoken in his concern regarding the potential strain on Secaucus for added emergency service personnel and expenses.
“I can already tell you that we’re going to need to spend municipal resources on overtime costs, and we are aren’t the only ones,” he said. “Every town is going to have to do the same thing. Super Bowl week is going to create an added burden on police and emergency personnel throughout this entire area. We are considering the possibility of sending either the state or the NFL the bill for our expenses.”
LaRosa said that the host committee is in touch with staff for Gov. Chris Christie.
“This Super Bowl is really unique because it’s the first time it is being held in a region rather than in a particular city,” said LaRosa, pointing out that the New York-Northern New Jersey region includes, not only New York City, but also Hudson County, Essex County, Bergen County, and the New Jersey Meadowlands, which straddles two counties.
“I can tell you they are listening to us and they are well aware of these funding concerns,” said LaRosa, adding he hopes there will be a resolution to some of these funding issues later this year.
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