- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 37 days until the Super Bowl.
According to one piece of recent research, America still thinks New York City is about as safe as it appeared in the classic 1981 sci-fi movie "Escape from New York."
Crime and muggings were the top concerns of respondents to a 1,000-person poll conducted by ORC International on behalf of Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Thirty-three percent cited violent crime as the biggest concern they would have about making a hypothetical trip to attend the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. That was followed by weather (25 percent) and a terrorist attack (24 percent). Twenty-six percent said they wouldn’t feel safe taking public transportation to the game.
In reality New York is safer than most large cities, and Times Square in particular has gone from being a home for peep shows to the home of Mickey Mouse at the Disney Store.
According to the web site City Data, crime in New York has decreased dramatically since 1999. The site shows that New York has gone from a city with above-average crime (car theft, murder, robbery etc.) to below average. New York City makes all of its data on crime available here.
But Mark Schussel, a VP at the Chubb Group, says visiting the region for the Super Bowl isn’t the same as making a typical jaunt to New York or New Jersey.
“We’re not talking about a normal week in the New York region when we’re talking about the Super Bowl,” Schussel said. “It’s not going to be business as usual. A lot of people have the means to afford the tickets and the hotels. Sometimes that might invite people who are looking to take advantage.”
The poll also found that more people would want to stay in New Jersey than in New York City. The perception remains that it is safer across the Hudson River from the big, bad city.
But New Jersey has its own issues when it comes to crime and perception. Super Bowl Media Day will be held in Newark, where a tragic holiday continued a spike in the city’s murder rate, which stands at 100 for the year. (The Prudential Center, where the Devils play and Media Day will be held, is nowhere near the areas of the city where violent crime has increased.)
While visiting Newark or New York City may indeed be more dangerous than staying home in a small town, it’s hard to imagine tourists will feel unsafe, given the increased police presence in places where crowds will gather. Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that New York City will deploy “groups of officers with heavy weapons, patrol boats and canine teams as fans gather in the week leading to the 2014 Super Bowl.”
A lot of this is plain old common sense. Schussel said that poll respondents indicated they would prepare for travel to the Super Bowl region by planning out meeting spots in case disaster strikes, and making sure their cell phones are charged -- a good idea in any case.
“I don’t think people should be fearful, but they should be aware of their surroundings and don’t bring the bling,” Schussel said. “Leave the bling at home.”
Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.
572dESPN New York staff