Area Towns Brace for Super Bowl Rush [SERIES/AUDIO]
This week, we are taking a look at Super Bowl 48′s impact on New Jersey as part of a special five-day series. In the final part today, area mayors discuss the impending madness headed to their towns.
While many outside of New Jersey have referred to Super Bowl 48 as an event in New York City, the host city is actually East Rutherford.
East Rutherford will be an instrumental part of the process over the next week-and-a-half. Secaucus will also play a vital role, sitting between MetLife Stadium and New York City, and serving as a major transportation and hospitality hub.
So how would Mayors James Cassella (R-East Rutherford) and Michael Gonnelli (D-Secaucus) rate their experience with the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee so far?
“I haven’t heard from them (Host Committee), nor have I heard from the NFL,” Cassella said.
“Information from the NFL has been very slow in forthcoming, so we’ve kind of taken our own charge,” Gonnelli said.
Cassella said he understands why New York City is getting attention and hosting many of the festivities. But at the of the day, he reminded people that New Jersey has the Super Bowl, and New York City does not.
“What I am taken a little back by is that New Jersey is not getting, I think, the respect that it should be getting,” Cassella explained.
Because of added police and safety issues, East Rutherford and Secaucus face higher expenses than many of the other area surrounding areas. East Rutherford’s police and fire departments have been involved with the process for over two years.
“Our costs are going to be higher than any of the other municipalities because our police have been involved,” Cassella said. “It’s in East Rutherford, and we do what we do, and I have no complaint about that.”
“But I’m hoping that the hotel revenue offsets that.”
Secaucus plans to have every cop available working on game day.
In an effort to drum up excitement and opportunities for local businesses, both cities have organized events leading up to the Super Bowl.
Secaucus holds Winter Blast, beginning on Thursday, Jan. 30, until Saturday, Feb. 1. That festival, which takes place at Buchmuller Park, will feature a block-long beer garden, various food trucks from the area, entertainment, and exhibition ice hockey games.
Meanwhile, on Super Bowl Sunday, East Rutherford is hosting The Meadowlands Tailgate Party 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m on Park and Railroad Avenues. That event also features food trucks, beer tents, live music, and games. Tickets for the party are available that day for $10, while children under 12 are free.
Both cities were able to get sponsors for the two events to help defray the costs.
The mayors do not believe that traffic will be a major issue because the area is accustomed to Giants and Jets games most Sundays. Add to that, the fact that mass transit is being urged as the best method of transportation. However, weather can throw a wrench into the best laid plans.
“All bets are off if it’s not a great day,” Cassella said.
The question that Mayors Cassella and Gonnelli have constantly been asked since the Super Bowl was announced for the area. Will they be attending the game?
Mayor Gonnelli said he plans to attend The Meadowlands Tailgate Party 2014 before the game. After that?
“I’m going to watch the game from the comfort of my den,” he said.
Will the host mayor be on hand?
“As of now, nobody has even suggested that it might be in order for the mayor of the host town to be there.”
Mayor Cassella said the lack of attention he’s received from organizers make his job a bit easier on the busy weekend.
“It’s almost, as though, I don’t exist. So, therefore, if I don’t exist, there’s no pressure.”
Despite being felt like they have been slighted by the NFL and Host Committee, both mayors are hopeful the area benefits from this unprecedented event.
“The bottom line is, I want this to go off without a hitch, and I want to people to say, ‘you know what, having this in New Jersey, they did a great job,’” Cassella said.
“I think it’s great for the region. I’m hoping the weather is great,” Gonnelli said.