SBD/February 4, 2014/Events and Attractions

N.J., NFL Investigate Super Bowl Transit Logjam That Left Fans Stranded For Hours

Grubman said that if the Super Bowl were to return, the NFL would be more prepared
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).
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