When the NFL needed a space to hold the 2,000 workers for the Super Bowl halftime show, they contacted the Town of Secaucus and the Board of Education, who offered to lease the High School’s performing arts center and gymnasium to the NFL. In exchange the NFL agreed to give the school $20,000 that would be earmarked for education. The volunteer fire department would also receive $5,000 to offset expenses involving parking for the NFL halftime workers.
After the NFL agreed to utilize these facilities, Secaucus police, public safety entities, town and school officials engaged in extensive planning sessions to iron out the logistics. Then, with no prior warning or even a discussion that the NFL was apparently negotiating with another location, one week before the Super Bowl the NFL sent a terse email indicating that they would be relocating the halftime workers elsewhere, resulting in no money for local schools or the fire department.
The game put a financial burden on the community in other ways. In the interest of public safety, Secaucus sent members of the fire department and police department to Texas to take part in specialty training in the event of a large scale incident. On game day, all five volunteer firehouses were fully staffed, the Office of Emergency Management was also fully staffed and, in addition to the police officers that are normally on duty, 13 officers supplemented the regular staff on overtime.
The NFL stipulated early on that they would not pay for any increased expenses incurred as a result of the Super Bowl, including the security involved in an event of that scale, leaving the local municipalities to absorb the expense. Municipalities were told that with all of the visitors in the region, they would be more than made whole by all of the money spent for hotel rooms, parking, restaurants, and other establishments in the region.
All municipalities were required to sign an agreement that permitted the NFL to utilize all of the area’s locations where streetlight banners are usually displayed. However, the NFL opted not to utilize these locations for local advertising, instead focusing all their promotional activities on New York.
Rather than being filled to capacity, many New Jersey hotels found their occupancy on Super Bowl weekend even lower than on normal game day weekends, according to reports. Local restaurants were less crowded this year than they were for Super Bowl week last year--when the game was more than 1,300 miles away in New Orleans.
The real losers of this year’s Super Bowl were the residents and businesses of New Jersey. Being the closest town to the stadium with restaurants and more than 2,200 hotel rooms, we were shocked at the lack of effort the NFL Host Committee put into having any events in close proximity to the stadium, in an effort to attract visitors to the entire region. We are in discussions with our attorneys as well as our legislative representatives to explore any options available as a result of all of these broken promises.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli