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SBD/February 4, 2014/Events and AttractionsPrint All
Super Bowl XLVIII was "billed as the first 'mass transit Super Bowl,' but embarrassed officials in New Jersey were left to explain" yesterday how it "became the mess transit Super Bowl," according to Donohue, Meyers & Hutchinson of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Critics "slammed the NFL and NJ Transit for Sunday’s postgame debacle that left tens of thousands of fans stranded at MetLife Stadium and fuming as they waited hours for trains and buses." NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said, "What I believe happened is a lot of people didn’t make up their minds until the last minute as to how they were going to get there." He called the experience "a good lesson learned for all of us." The NFL's estimate that up to 50,000 people would take buses to the game and 25,000 would arrive and depart by car was "flawed." While 8,500 parking passes were sold, 2,000 of them "went unused." The NFL "hired Gameday Management to organize ground transportation." Fans who "took buses, including 6,000 who bought $51 Fan Express passes, were told the buses wouldn’t leave until an hour after the game." Instead of waiting around, many of them "just got on line for shuttle trains back to Secaucus Junction, adding to the backup" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/4). Grubman: "For the people who were inconvenienced and delayed, it was no doubt very frustrating" (ESPNNY.com, 2/3). Grubman said, "We had lots of plans for all things we couldn't control related to weather. Next time, we will have lots of plans for all the things ... related to transportation." But USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer writes transportation "was the only apparent big glitch for the game." NJ Transit spokesperson Bill Smith said, "We transported a record 33,017 customers by train last evening from the Super Bowl ... This constituted more than 40% of the announced attendance of 82,529" (USA TODAY, 2/4).
HE SAID, HE SAID: Grubman said that "if the Super Bowl were to return to New Jersey, the league would be more prepared." He added of the transportation snafu, "If you look at the big picture of the New York-New Jersey presentation, I think it is one part of a very big picture that was terrific" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/4). NJ Transit Exec Dir James Weinstein said, "I think we did an excellent job moving a lot of people to a major event. When 82,500 people leave a place at the same time there’s going be congestion. There was, and we got through that congestion in what I believe was a realistic time." The AP's David Porter notes the host committee "also ran buses from nine locations" (AP, 2/4). Kelly: "It is not a Host Committee matter, but we care about the entire experience and I think some people were frustrated and I feel badly for people who were frustrated" (NEWSDAY, 2/4). N.J. DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson, who also serves as NJ Transit Chair, said that the agency "was never prepared to handle 33,000 people." He added, "The management of NJ Transit and the NFL never dreamed they would have to move 33,000 people out of the stadium. Somebody blew the estimates" (Bergen RECORD, 2/4).
DEAL BREAKER? In N.Y., Gary Myers writes Grubman's presence yesterday at the wrap-up press conference "could be an ominous sign for New York’s chances when it bids for its second Super Bowl." The transportation situation "sticks a big demerit on the report card of the first venture" of a N.Y./N.J. Super Bowl (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/4). Also in N.Y., Matt Flegenheimer notes for months, organizers "coaxed fans to ride the rails." On Sunday, "the people listened. A little too well." However, delays "almost certainly could have been worse." Weinstein said, "It’s not Star Trek. You can’t beam people from one place to the other" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch writes the region’s chances of getting another Super Bowl "anytime soon don’t appear to be strong" (N.Y. POST, 2/4).
MAKING HEADLINES: Several papers this morning ran with the train delay story. A N.Y. TIMES header read, "A Waiting Game After The Super Bowl: Hours In Line For The Train.” The N.Y. DAILY NEWS headline read: "Super Bowl Screw Up." The N.Y. POST: "NJ Transit Defends Post-Super Bowl Train Delays." The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "Surviving The Super Bowl's Transit Logjam." The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: "Super Bowl Transit Mess: Bay Area Faces Similar Challenge For 2016 Game" (THE DAILY).
As snow blanketed the N.Y. area yesterday morning, the "question became whether Super Bowl XLVIII -- with its interstate planning, its transit issues, its security measures and its climate -- had been successful enough that the NFL would consider trying it again," according to Jared Diamond of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "We had a couple things that obviously we will review and try to improve on. But, overall, I think the event was tremendously successful." As the snow accumulated yesterday, "about 40% of scheduled flights" into and out of LaGuardia and Newark airports "were canceled." At JFK Airport, "about 20% of flights were grounded." The timing of the storm "underscored the risks associated with awarding the Super Bowl to a cold-weather city." Had the snow "arrived on Sunday, for instance, the public-transportation snarls that had some ticketholders overheating at the Secaucus rail station on Sunday would presumably have been much worse" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/4). In Miami, Adam Beasley notes because of yesterday's snowfall, "league power brokers, deep-pocketed sponsors and run-of-the-mill football fans all struggled to make it home." In all, "roughly 600 flights" originating in the greater N.Y. area yesterday had been canceled as of 6:00pm ET. But in the big picture, the NFL "was incredibly fortunate." Had the storm "hit just 12 hours earlier, untold thousands of game attendees would have struggled to get to MetLife Stadium -- if the game was held Sunday at all" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/4). CBS's Jason La Canfora said, “The snafus of people getting out of town ... maybe cast a little bit more of a negative light on it, but they have enough that they can sell the sponsors. There will be a clamoring, I believe, in the business community to do this again" ("Rome," CBS Sports Network, 2/3).
TRULY A GAME OF INCHES: N.Y./N.J. Super Bowl Host Committee President Al Kelly said of just missing the snowstorm on Sunday, "It's a nice non-problem." He added, "If this storm was (Sunday), the views of people and their memories would have been different." On Long Island, Neil Best writes Super Bowl week "will be recalled for what mostly was a well-received operation." Kelly also "praised the scene on Super Bowl Boulevard." He said, "It was just phenomenal amounts of people all seemingly orderly and engaged and having fun, but really a sea of people" (NEWSDAY, 2/4). But L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the NFL "got so lucky with the weather." The league should "count their blessings, get out of town and never come back." ESPN's Bomani Jones said, "You can't keep having these Super Bowls that require you to look in the Farmer's Almanac to try to figure out if you’re going to be buried I snow. The margin of error on this was 10 hours and they got this lucky" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/3).
ONE & DONE? In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes Super Bowl Boulevard was "a wonderful destination spot, and just about everyone who visited had a fun day." Vaccaro: "The question should really be this: Do we want it back? Because clearly we don’t need it back." All the "good vibes generated by the novelty of having the Big Game in the big town were probably frittered away by two simple snafus: the horrible chaos at the Secaucus Junction Sunday, and the snow that blanketed the city Monday and wound up canceling scores of flights home for thousands of visitors" (N.Y. POST, 2/4). SPORTING NEWS' Vinnie Iyer wrote for the NFL's largest market, "once is enough." The N.Y. area "simply can't make up for the fact" that it is "just too big." N.Y. is the "kind of place that renders a beast such as the Super Bowl insignificant" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/3). Sports On Earth's Will Leitch said, "Most of my friends in New York did not even notice the Super Bowl was going on. When it is in Indianapolis or it’s in Arizona, it takes over the town and here, it was like, ‘Oh, that’s right, another reason not to go to Times Square’” ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 2/3).
WE WANT NEXT: The AP's Rob Maaddi wrote NFL owners in other cold-weather cities are "sure to be lining up to try to bring the Big Game to their stadiums," but '19 will be the next chance for an outdoor Super Bowl in a cold climate. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel "has already begun lobbying" Goodell on behalf of the Bears (AP, 2/3). In Boston, Ben Volin writes the city will "host a Super Bowl sooner rather than later." N.Y./N.J. did "a lot of favors for Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Denver." Volin: "Don't be surprised if Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Baltimore and Nashville want in as well" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/4). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the NFL "of course" will hold another cold-weather Super Bowl because this game was a "enormous success." It was the "most-viewed Super Bowl of all-time," and NFL team owners "got to spend a bunch of days in New York City which is the economic engine of the country." He said the NFL will go "to powerful cities" like Boston and DC for another cold-weather Super Bowl "once every four or five years" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/3). But in Chicago, Rick Telander notes Soldier Field with a capacity of 61,500 is "the second-smallest outdoor NFL stadium." There is "no way Soldier Field as presently constructed will get a Super Bowl" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/4).
INDY GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER TRY: Indiana Sports Corp. Senior VP/Strategy & Operations Susan Baughman said that Indianapolis "could expand the footprint and activities in its own Super Bowl Village if given the chance on center stage again." She said, "We spent a lot of time on Super Bowl Boulevard. [N.Y.] had a lot of the activities that you saw in our NFL experience indoors, but they took those outdoors." Baughman added that Indianapolis' bid committee has "secured pledges from corporate partners for more than half" of the $30M its leaders hope to raise (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/4).