The Super Bowl is coming to New Jersey in 2014, and Hoboken wants to be part of the action.
Hoboken Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino, Health and Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini, and Parking Utility Planner Ryan Sharp took a trip to Indianapolis, Ind. just before the Super Bowl earlier this month in order to network and get Hoboken on the National Football League’s radar as they prepare for the 2014 Super Bowl to come to the Meadowlands, Giattino said.
An NFL committee is already looking for places to host events such as concerts, football contests for fans, and festival-like parties, Giattino said. Now, a committee from the NFL is coming to Hoboken in March to look at possible opportunities to host events in the mile-square city.
“What was surprising to me was not just how many families attend the Super Bowl, but also the events leading up to the Super Bowl,” Giattino said.
“The positive for us is that we have mass transit,” Pellegrini said. “We have public transportation that will make it much more convenient to host events in this area. It’s easy to get to and from not just Manhattan but also the stadium.”
Pellegrini said the city would also try to sell Hoboken’s view of Manhattan, which could be the perfect backdrop for television sets and concerts, he said.
NFL-sanctioned events in the city would bring increased business to shops and restaurants, Giattino noted.
An attempt to book a room by phone and online at the W Hotel in Hoboken for Super Bowl week was unsuccessful last week, and the hotel’s booking department said they are not yet offering reservations two years in advance. A staff member at the Embassy Suites in Secaucus told the Reporter to call back in 2013. Attempts to book hotels online at the Sheraton in Weehawken and the Westin in Jersey City were also unsuccessful, with staff saying that visitors may only book 550 days in advance.
Zip lines, concerts, and more possibilities
Pellegrini said he had a conference call last week with the executive director of Zip Track, a zip line company. A zip line is a wire that connects to two spots, with one end higher than the other, and thrill-seekers can ride down on the wire.
“They’re going to send me a proposal on how we’d be able to host a zip line here in Hoboken,” Pellegrini said.
“Okay, I’m loving the zip line,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in response to Pellegrini during an interview, laughing. “I want a zip line in Hoboken.”
The company will now look at maps of Hoboken to see where an event could possibly be held, Pellegrini said.
Indianapolis held several events before the Super Bowl, including a concert by the music group LMFAO.
“The concerts in the street drew nearly 150,000 people,” Giattino said. “I was asking the police lots of questions about the way they prepare including how they set up the barricades, and also about crowd control.”
Pellegrini said Indianapolis changed their local ordinance to allow open containers of alcohol just during the week before the Super Bowl, and he said it wasn’t very rowdy.
“It sort of felt like Disney World,” Giattino said, she speaking about the atmosphere surrounding the event.
Hoboken may have a hard time competing with New York City to host the events, but that’s the reason the group went out there, Zimmer said.
Pellegrini said that when the city hosted an NFL-sanctioned event on Sept. 11, 2011 on Pier A Park before the first regular season Monday Night Football game, it helped establish a relationship with the league.
“Since there are so few hotels in Hoboken, we’ll try to figure out a way to get people from other hotels in other towns to come here,” Giattino said, adding that in Indianapolis there were shuttle buses to the pre-Super Bowl events.
‘It sort of felt like Disney World.’ – Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino
The mayor has recently tried to curb excessive partying in Hoboken – both by cracking down on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and then refusing a film permit for a spinoff of the MTV reality TV show “Jersey Shore.” So why is she trying to land Hoboken as a party spot for the Super Bowl?
“We could either take a proactive role and be part of organizing events that makes it beneficial to the city, or we wait and have no organization, no volunteers, and people will just show up here to party,” Zimmer said in an interview on Wednesday. “The Super Bowl is coming. We need to be prepared.”
Zimmer added that she wants the city to host family-friendly events.
Cold weather climate an issue
Giattino said it was important that the group go this year because they wanted to see how the NFL prepares for the outdoor events in a cold weather climate. Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium has a dome, which is why it was able to host the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is traditionally held in a warm weather city. Next year, the Super Bowl is being held in New Orleans, La.
The 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford will be an exception to the rule. It will be the first time the event is held in a cold climate without a domed stadium.
“We have to see how they prepare for cold weather,” Zimmer said.
“I envision having events on Pier A Park or Sinatra Park and the Little League Field, and we can bubble some of those areas off,” Pellegrini said.
The Super Bowl is expected to pull in approximately $500 million in revenue to the area, and New Jersey can capture 35 to 40 percent of the total money, according to Jim Kirkos, the president of the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau, who spoke for a Secaucus Reporter story earlier this month (see hudsonreporter.com to read that story).
What did trip cost?
Political opponents of the mayor’s administration raised questions after Giattino’s trip, asking what it cost the taxpayers.
At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Theresa Castellano said the trip was premature, as the Super Bowl is two years away. Giattino responded that the planning is set to begin next month.
Councilman Tim Occhipinti, another Zimmer opponent, said the council should have pre-approved the expenses for the trip. Occhipinti was invited to go to Indianapolis as well but turned the trip down.
Giattino paid her own way for the trip, but the entire trip for Pellegrini and Sharp cost approximately $3,900, city spokesperson Juan Melli said Friday.
Pellegrini and Melli said the entire trip will be covered by a trust fund established for operations of the city’s Cultural Affairs department. For example, the city’s Movies Under the Stars program, as well as other events and festivals, have sponsors. The sponsorship money left over from the events makes up the trust fund.
The City Council approved reimbursement of Sharp’s flight for approximately $350 on Wednesday from city money, but Melli said those costs will later be reimbursed with money from the fund.
The group did not attend the actual Super Bowl game.
So what are the odds that Hoboken will host NFL sanctioned events?
Though he wasn’t specific, Pellegrini said, “I have a good vibe that something is going to materialize.”
The group will know more after the meeting with the committee in early March.
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