NJ Kicks Off Super Bowl Hosting Duties [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 part one today, we examine the process of organizing this unprecedented event.
With the two teams now in place, New Jersey assumes their role as the host site of Super Bowl 48 on February 2nd.
Wayne Hasenbalg was appointed as President and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority in late 2011, and in the process, inherited the role as the state's point-person for the Super Bowl.
Hasenbalg said there has never been a Super Bowl in history that presents the types of challenges this one does.
"You have two states, first-time ever. You have two teams hosting it, first-time ever. First-time ever cold weather, and first-time ever in the Northeast part of the state," he explained.
Security and Snow
Of course, weather has been on the minds of organizers since the idea was hatched to bring the big game to this area. Another major concern is the amount of people who will be on the move between New York and New Jersey.
"We got to make sure they're safe. We got to make sure they're able to do that. And you got to build all that in with the weather," Hasenbalg explained.
Security has been paramount during the preparation process. Everybody on the grounds during game day will be required to have a ticket, or will have had to have cleared a background check. Over 10,000 workers have been credentialed for jobs at the stadium leading up to and during the game.
That includes nearly 1,600 people on standby, in the event it snows on game day. Jets and Giants fans would barely recognize the outside of Met Life Stadium currently as work has been ongoing to construct seven pavilions for ticket scanning and security.
A 300-foot security perimeter is being constructed around the outside of the stadium. Hasenbalg said that every facet of the planning has included extra layers of preparation because of unique issues like the weather and security.
"We have provided the kind of redundancy to everything that we're doing because game day here at the Meadowlands every facility is going to be used," he said.
If it were to snow, over 3000 snow plows are at the ready, along with 60,000 tons of salt available and machines that can melt 600 tons of snow an hour.
Another hot topic is avoiding the fate of last year's game in New Orleans, which featured a lengthy power outage at the Superdome. Hasenbalg said that has been addressed by installing three additional feeder lines into Met Life Stadium, all of which could handle the power demand on Super Bowl Sunday.
When the Super Bowl process began, an early projection of $550 million was thrown out as far as economic potential for the area.
While analysts are hesitant to place a firm figure on what the windfall from the festivities and game will be, it stands to be a major boom for the Garden State.
"Part of our job here in New Jersey is to maximize that impact on New Jersey," Hasenbalg explained. "And we've tried to do that. We know that the teams are staying here. We know the teams are practicing here. We know Media Day is here. There's going to be a lot of activity here."
Hasenbalg has applauded towns across the state for becoming involving in the festivities, with many, such as East Rutherford, Secaucus, Jersey City, and Hoboken holding their own parties and events.
"With what the towns are doing, it's going to encourage money being spent in local venues, so I think at the end of the day, New Jersey will do fine," Hasenbalg said.
While organizers have conceded that a lot of the action will take place in New York, especially parties, hotel reservations, and Super Bowl Blvd. in Times Square, the two weeks offer a golden opportunity to showcase the state on the big stage.
"Even if you're staying in New York, I think you're going to want to come over to Jersey," he said. "And as you're doing that, you're going to have to go through parts of New Jersey as you get around, and that's why that by giving people an opportunity, I think for the long-term we're doing a really good thing to expose all that's good about New Jersey to visitors that are coming here."
Since there are so many moving parts and different agencies involved with this particular Super Bowl, the process has required cooperation across the board.
Hasenbalg went out of his way to credit his partners in this journey, starting with Al Kelly, who is heading up the Super Bowl Host Committee, to the NFL, to local towns, and the various agencies across the state.
"I have never seen the kind of coordinated efforts by state agencies involved that I've seen in this," he said.
While they continue to monitor weather, officials believe they are over-prepared, at this point, and even cancelled their monthly meeting in January, choosing instead to focus on final preparation efforts.
Hasenbalg has recalled a conversation with Governor Christie, who said to make New Jersey proud with this Super Bowl.
"As I come here to work every day for the last two years, believe me, that message is in my head," Hasenbalg said.
The Game Itself
There should be no issue building buzz for this Super Bowl, which will feature a match-up of the two best teams during the regular season, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
The clubs were both number one seeds in their conferences, and rank as the best offense and defense, respectively.
And while many area fans clamored for a Giants or Jets run at a home Super Bowl, the game does not lack for star power or a Manning, as Peyton heads to Jersey to try to win his second championship on his brother, Eli's home turf.
In part two tomorrow, we will take a look at the transportation issues involved with an event of this magnitude.