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Thursday, October 24, 2013
NY/NJ committee: We want big events

By Jane McManus
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Today, the Super Bowl. Tomorrow, the World Cup, and possibly even the Olympics.

The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee and CEO Al Kelly hope that Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, serves as the blueprint for other major events and leads to a regular return of the NFL's biggest stage to the area.

"It makes sense to me that it should be in this marketplace at least once a decade, given that one-sixteenth of the National Football League [the Giants and Jets] plays here, and the fact that this is the everything capital of the world -- medicine, philanthropy, culture, shopping, restaurants, etc.," Kelly said. "And that's what we hope to happen. We also hope it's a platform for people to say, if people are interested, that we should think about World Cups, Olympics. This marketplace can handle all of that."

Super Bowl XLVIII will mark the first time the NFL has deliberately held the championship game outdoors in a cold-weather venue.

"New York is the center of the world as far as I'm concerned, and there's no reason we shouldn't be hosting these megaevents," committee co-chair and Jets owner Woody Johnson said.

The Association for a Better New York hosted a breakfast for the committee and business leaders in Times Square on Thursday. Kelly was joined by Johnson and Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch to discuss plans and challenges in the 101 days remaining until kickoff.

They have raised $60 million so far from corporate sponsors to host the event and have done extensive troubleshooting on matters from security to the electrical system.

What could make it challenging for fans and sponsors is the weather. Average temperatures in East Rutherford, N.J., at that time of year are in the low 30s, and the game falls in the middle of the nor'easter season.

"If somebody gets frostbite, that's their own fault," Kelly said. "Of all the things I have to worry about, having to worry about a couple of idiots who can't dress properly ..."

Because only 12,000 of the normal 28,000 parking spaces are available for the game because of a required security perimeter, any disruption to public transportation could be significant.

But all those contingencies are being discussed and planned for, Kelly said. Last year there was a blackout during the Super Bowl, so the committee recently conducted a test of the MetLife Stadium grid where they overloaded the system to find weak spots. Kelly said it performed well, and that the problems were, in layman's terms, the equivalent of a few blown light bulbs.

The host committee is asking for 16,000 volunteer applications for 12,000 slots. Those people will direct out-of-towners to different venues throughout the area. Some of the 83,000 seats in the Meadowlands may not be available for fan seating to make accommodations for the media, parties and foreign broadcasters, but there will be far more people in town for the game, even if they aren't attending.

"New Yorkers are unbelievably hospitable people," Tisch said.

Volunteers will be stationed at airports and train stations offering directions between venues in Newark, N.J., Manhattan and East Rutherford.

"These people are going to be critical ambassadors for making people feel comfortable," Kelly said.