Wednesday, January 22, 2014
11 Days: A fan's guide to the Super Bowl
By Jane McManus
Are we stronger than the storm, or what?
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 11 days until the Super Bowl.
Getting to Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., isn’t going to be easy. That’s not to say it isn’t worth it, or it or you won’t enjoy the game when you get there, but the fan experience at a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl is going to be significantly different than any other Super Bowl in a few ways.
It’s simple logistics. MetLife Stadium is miles away from where most people will be staying, whether that’s in Manhattan or Moonachie. Fans will have to plan their trip in and out well in advance or risk missing part of the game.
The access to and from this year’s event will be strictly controlled. You will not be able to walk to the game from across the street, and a cab or car won’t be able to drop you off near MetLife Stadium. The Super Bowl Host Committee is calling this the mass transit Super Bowl, and that’s because the majority of fans will have to take a bus or train to get there.
Here are your options:
• What exit?: A parking pass costs $150 and there may still be a few for sale on the official website. As this story was reported, one lot still had passes available. The official transportation website stipulates that scalping parking passes is strictly verboten. But I did find passes for sale on StubHub starting at $291. There are only about 12,000 parking passes available, compared to 28,000 for a typical game day, and tailgating is not permitted.
• Get on the bus, Gus: This is a bus to MetLife Stadium that costs $51 per seat, and requires a ticket to the Super Bowl in order to get on board. The bus isn’t a shuttle, where you show up and ride. You book a specific bus leaving from one of seven locations in Manhattan and New Jersey. Some of these buses are booking up, notably the ones leaving from Grand Central and the Waldorf. You also have to book a specific return bus to the same location you departed from.
• All aboard NJ Transit: This is the least expensive option, although the price varies depending upon where you get on the train. You can start your trip at Penn Station if you are in New York City. All ticketholders will have to go to the Secaucus hub, where you can board a train heading to the Super Bowl. Fans will need to have both their train ticket and a Super Bowl ticket in order to gain entry to the train bound for MetLife Stadium.
Cars will all be swept for explosives on their way into the stadium on game day, and anyone who rides a Fan Express bus or NJ Transit train will have to go through metal detectors and possible bag checks before boarding.
Once fans get to the stadium, they will have to go through one of seven Welcome Pavilions on the grounds. These will feel a lot like airport security, with metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs. Security opens at 2 p.m. on Feb. 2 and fans will want to give themselves extra time for screening.
Season-ticketholders are used to the no-bag policy that the NFL instituted this year, but everyone else should check the official guidelines. You will only be allowed to bring one small clear plastic bag with you, and the NFL discourages even that. There is one gate designed to screen people who need to bring additional medical items.
Each fan will get a welcome bag filled with items like hand warmers and texting gloves. That and a few beers may be enough to stay cozy on a mild day, but casual NFL fans will want to dress like they are heading to the arctic. This game will take longer than a regular-season NFL game due to commercials and timeouts (but hopefully not blackouts).
There are warm common areas available for fans in the club seats, but not for the upper bowl, and the winds can make it extremely cold at night.
Whatever you decide to do, plan ahead. Bus reservations and parking passes are already disappearing.
In any case, enjoy what could be an epic game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, two teams who know how to handle the elements.