Al Kelly, the chairman of the 2014 Meadowlands Super Bowl Host Committee, drew his biggest applause at a business seminar in Teterboro on Tuesday when he declared, “New York and New Jersey are equal partners” for the biggest event in American professional sports.
The committee logo unveiled Tuesday seems to reflect that sentiment, with its depiction of the George Washington Bridge along with a snowflake that underscores the fact that Super Bowl XLVIII will be the first outdoor Super Bowl held at a cold-weather site.
“This notion that this is a New York City event is kind of interesting, because we haven’t done anything to try to create that,” Kelly said at mdest, an annual business event that is sponsored by the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Clearly, there will be events in Manhattan, but we would like to have events in New Jersey as well.”
The most popular weeklong event at Super Bowl sites for local residents is the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park that includes free football clinics and autograph sessions, plus other family attractions, as well as a large retail store. Kelly said that event “probably” would be held in Manhattan — with the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center being the most logical site to handle what Kelly expects will be record NFL Experience crowds.
The Teterboro event was the second of the day for Kelly, who joined Jets owner Woody Johnson and Giants co-owner John Mara for an 8 a.m. press conference in Manhattan, where the host committee logo was unveiled.
A newspaper ad planned for Wednesday describes “A Super Bowl So Historic It takes Two States to Host It.”
Kelly noted that about 35 percent of the game tickets go to fans of the two franchises that get that far, adding that both teams will spend the week practicing and doing interview sessions in New Jersey — and that their fans will likely prefer to stay near the team hotels. Kelly encouraged local officials to make extensive efforts to court those fan bases.
For those ticketholders who do stay in Manhattan — and that group will include plenty of chief executive officers — Kelly said he hopes to figure out ways to get them to forgo arriving by car. Offering VIP trains to the game using the rail link that terminates at the MetLife Stadium plaza is one possibility, he said.
New Jersey Transit chief of staff Richard Andreski said that the rail service typically has about 10,000 riders for football games, but that the number could grow to as many as 30,000 to 40,000 on that Super Bowl Sunday because of ticketholder traffic fears.
Frank Vuono of Lyndhurst, a former National Football League executive who is a partner in 16W Marketing and who attended the Teterboro event, said that Kelly seemed to understand the need to try to address New Jersey’s specific role in the event.
“I do think that New Jersey is more accepting that we are in the shadows of New York City than New York City is accepting of the fact that the two pro football teams play here in New Jersey,” Vuono said. “But I don’t know that we’ll ever be satisfied. Having ‘New York’ and ‘New Jersey’ on the same line of the logo is terrific. But then someone said to me, ‘But New York is [listed] first, on the left.’Ÿ”
Jim Kirkos, the president of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, said it was “shrewd” of the committee to make the George Washington Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, the centerpiece of the logo.
“We have met with Mr. Kelly before, and we were very encouraged by his body language and his message,” Kirkos said. “We’ve made it clear how we feel. And his point today was clever — he basically said, ‘There’s a lot of opportunity out there, but don’t wait for us to do it for you.’Ÿ”
Kirkos said that New York City has an advantage in that it has just one mayor, while the Meadowlands region has more than a dozen. But he added that he thought Governor Christie’s staff so far has helped centralize New Jersey’s case with the NFL.
Kirkos recalled that when the NFL selected the Meadowlands for the 2014 game last year, it was with the understanding that a cold-weather Super Bowl was a one-time event. But neither he nor Kelly conceded that notion Tuesday.
“If we do it right, they’ll come back here again,” Kirkos said.