Now that another Super Bowl has come and gone, preparations are underway to get northern New Jersey ready to host the 2014 Super Bowl – slated to be the biggest in history.
New York and New Jersey are co-hosting the event together. The Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau (MLCVB) expects New Jersey sites will be major tourist destinations during the 2014 Super Bowl and generate increased revenue for local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and tourist attractions.
Secaucus, North Bergen, and Jersey City have a high number of hotels. Despite the fact that some tourists may stay in New York City, which had an estimated 50 million visitors in 2011 that generated $48 billion in spending, Hudson County destinations will be much closer to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford and provide less expensive alternatives, some with Manhattan skyline views.
NJ’s share of the revenue
Jim Kirkos, president of the MLCVB, said that he anticipates the North Jersey region capturing 35 to 40 percent of $500 million anticipated in spending.
However, he added, “We also want to be careful about how to temper expectations…we want to be smart and pragmatic…rally stakeholders and solicit support from the state.” He said that Gov. Christopher Christie’s administration has been very supportive from the beginning.
“We anticipate the  Super Bowl will be largest in history because of dynamics of being in and around the New York City metropolitan area,” Kirkos said.
MetLife Stadium holds 82,500 people but the MLCVB expects up to 150,000 visitors to the region in total.
Tickets to the Super Bowl sell out every year. The NFL only allocates 1 percent of those tickets to the general public, a quarter to companies and sponsors, and the majority to the NFL teams.
The area will also be filled with press and other visitors.
“Some people just go to the Super Bowl [host city] as their vacation every year,” said Kirkos. “There are a lot of things for people to do even if they can’t go to the game.”
Maximizing economic impact
The MLCVB plans to generate awareness and create information about what the region has to offer, especially as tourists plan how to spend their time during events that lead up to the main event and days following.
“There is a two-fold effect for economic impact for the Super Bowl,” said Kirkos. “The immediate effect is of the business that will come in as far two weeks [in advance] and that lasts three to four days after the event.”
“We predict it will be very difficult to get a hotel anywhere in northern New Jersey, and when hotels are booked, people will be eating at restaurants,” he said.
The second effect on the economy will primarily be felt after the Super Bowl in regard to how New Jersey elevates its status as a tourist destination.
A space to stay in the Garden State
The northern New Jersey area has 10,000 to 12,000 hotel rooms while New York City has 90,000 hotel rooms. Kirkos said ensuring that people stay on this side of the Hudson involves strategic marketing that begins early and positions New Jersey as a destination.
“What we need to do is to really identify all the assets that are in our region [such as]…the Liberty Science Center and Pole Position Raceway [both in Jersey City] and work collaboratively,” said Kirkos. “Yes, you can visit the greatest city in the world. But you can also stay in the Meadowlands.”
Kirkos said that the MLCVB will help build itineraries and help tourists get from one attraction to another.
“We are already collaborating with other destination marketing organizations, and our [visitors’ bureau] is working with other [visitors’ bureaus] in New Jersey to think about how we would put packages together,” said Kirkos. “The team owners and executives will want to stay in New York City, but the average fan doesn’t want to spend $800 a night for a hotel room.”
Businesses to prepare in the region
“One of the things we are paying close attention to is customer service,” said Kirkos. The MLCVB offers customer service hospitality training programs in conjunction with Bergen Community College for individuals from service professions such as taxi cab drivers, hotel waiters, and bartenders to ensure that visitors leave with a good impression of the Garden State.
The MLCVB is also at work to help showcase downtown districts in the Meadowlands area and provide tourists with an experience of what local towns are like. He mentioned that work is underway to help support beautification projects throughout the region.
The town of Secaucus has formed a 2014 Super Bowl committee, which has held several meetings and begun meeting with business owners throughout the municipality. The municipality hopes to draw tourism to its restaurants and entertainment venues during the event.
Kirkos said he doesn’t believe any one municipality, in particular, will reap the most benefit from the sporting event, but that all surrounding towns will be equally affected.
Kirkos went to Indianapolis last week with the 2014 host committee and representatives from the tourism industry. NJ had a display at the National Football League Experience, which is a week-long event and includes a pro football interactive theme park, games, displays, and entertainment.
“We are seeking all opportunities to do marketing [and] we are starting…as early as now,” said Kirkos.
While it will be the first outdoor Super Bowl held at a cold-weather site, the Visitors’ Bureau is not worried about the weather. In regard to local concerns around traffic jams, the MLCVB plans to make sure that transportation hubs and links work to ease any potential congestion. Traffic worries have surfaced recently in news reports related to the American Dream project, a recreation/entertainment project next to the stadium on Route 3.
Kirkos said American Dream is scheduled to be open in the fall of 2013.
“If in fact [American Dream] is successful … American Dream makes us a much greater destination of choice,” said Kirkos.
MLCVB is working closely with the 2014 Meadowlands Super Bowl Host Committee and its chairman Al Kelly. Kirkos said the biggest challenge ahead is coordination, but that this year’s Super Bowl will provide a better understanding of how the MLCVB can help prepare the region.
Most popular television event
The Super Bowl is the most watched program on television. Last year’s Super Bowl had an estimated 111 million viewers, surpassing 2010’s Super Bowl, according to the Nielsen Company.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.