If Secaucus has its way, the week leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl will be a “Winter Blast” – literally – complete with manufactured snow blown onto the local Little League field and a roster full of activities all centered in Buchmuller Park in the town’s center.
The celebration being proposed would give Secaucus the opportunity to capitalize on the country’s biggest, one-game professional sporting event, taking place only a couple of miles away in East Rutherford.
And with 70 percent of people coming to the Super Bowl from other points in the country, according to Mayor Michael Gonnelli, they will be looking for things to do.
Buchmuller Park can be utilized because of the many amenities it has to offer: an amphitheater, ice skating rink, athletic fields, and open spaces. In addition, it is easily reached via transportation, with access from local buses and trains and the nearby roadways of Route 3, Paterson Plank Road, and the New Jersey Turnpike.
“We’re thinking that this event will really be for the whole family,” Gonnelli said. “We’re looking to partner with a local resort to bring in a machine and blow snow all over the baseball field.”
But the activities and fun will not stop there. Also planned are ice skating, tobogganing, snowman building, tug of war, tubing, sled races, curling, rock climbing, mechanical bull riding and “stick off,” a game in which you play golf in the snow with a hockey ball. For those seeking something more aesthetic, there will be ice sculpture carving and snow art, through which you paint snow with food coloring.
“It’s a great town to live in, a great town to play in.” – Lee Penna
One of the major initiatives is erecting a tent over the park’s basketball court that would allow for covered entertainment, or just a place to relax. It would also provide for a service area featuring the region’s best restaurants serving their signature appetizers, desserts, and other foods.
“It will be a café-style atmosphere with tables, linens, and centerpieces,” said Lee Penna, community outreach coordinator. “It’ll highlight restaurants in our area. We’re hoping this event isn’t just for the moment. We want to highlight this town; it’s a great town to live in, a great town to play in.”
More ambitious than that are two other goals coming under a “Fashion/Football Week” heading: an NFL-like punt and pass competition, featuring current and past players, and a fashion show on ice in the park rink, featuring professional models, and possibly NFL wives, walking a one-and-a -half inch Plexiglas runway.
“We also going to have a 15-by-24 foot screen, and we’re looking for sponsors,” Gonnelli said. “We’ll have family movies, popcorn, cotton candy, and a gaming center.”
Contingent upon two factors
Much of the plans, though, are contingent on two major factors: attracting top sponsors to fund the activities and attaining top-level marketing status from the National Football League.
“We’ve filed with the NFL to become an NFL-sanctioned event,” the mayor said. There are three levels, he explained, and with the top tier comes the most help in advertising and promotion.
Penna is working on the project and has been in touch with the NFL on the town’s status.
“We’re certain we’re going to be an NFL-sanctioned event, we’re just not certain which level we’ll be,” Penna said. “As soon as we get our sponsors, we’ll have an idea.”
“What’s really cool about that is we’re going to use the town bus, to transport the people staying at 16 hotels in the area to see it,” Gonnelli said. “It’s kind of a like a shopping opportunity too. There’s no tax on clothing and shoes in New Jersey, so that’s another advantage.”
Gonnelli is also hoping to team up Hoboken and Jersey City, two other Hudson County towns that are aggressively chasing their parts of the Super Bowl pie.
“We’re going to meet with Hoboken and Jersey City about doing a combined bus route,” he said. “People in the three towns could go to other events in the other two towns.”
Gonnelli has already met with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on this, and is reaching out to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
Both Gonnelli and Penna say one long-term goal is introduce all Secaucus has to offer to Super Bowl visitors who do not live far and may return.
“Just the fact that our area’s so unique and has such a great location,” Penna said. “We have 16 hotels and 13 designer outlets. We have over 30 restaurants, and of all different types of cuisines: American, Chinese, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Spanish. It gives a lot of opportunity to have your own culture and experience others. We’re an awesome little town.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.