While Secaucus’ pre-Super Bowl festival, “Winter Blast,” was a success, the region attracted far fewer Super Bowl tourists than expected. Officials have complained that the NFL did not do enough to promote the New Jersey-related aspects of the Super Bowl. In addition, according to Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, the NFL allegedly reneged on a contract with the town. Now, the mayor has sent a letter to the NFL requesting payment of $25,000 in promised fees.
At the Town Council meeting this past Tuesday, Feb. 11, the mayor and council members discussed both the positive and the negative aspects of the events around the Super Bowl.
We want our money
Gonnelli said that the NFL had signed a contract with the Secaucus Board of Education and the town to lease the high school for an event, and then reneged on that contract at the last minute. To redress that issue, he sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell outlining the town’s position and asking for $25,000, the amount contracted.
“Touchdown Entertainment had secured our high school,” said Gonnelli. “The Board of Education signed a contract with them for $20,000. There was an issue with the parking so we arranged to have the parking offsite and the volunteer firefighters were going to use it as a fundraiser. They were going to get $5,000 also. About a week before the event, the NFL sent an e-mail over to David [Drumeler, town administrator] saying that they found another location.”
“The $20,000 was going to go back to the school system to be used for education,” according to the mayor. “And the $5,000 was going to go to the volunteers who not only volunteered on Super Bowl Sunday but for the weeks prior to that, training, manning command centers, manning the firehouses.”
“I think it’s time that the NFL really steps up to the plate,” –Michael Gonnelli
“If we don’t,” said Gonnelli, “our intent is to file a complaint and litigate it, take it to court.”
Also of concern was the lack of promotion for the Super Bowl in New Jersey. “We in the state of New Jersey had looked forward to this supposedly big game that was going to take place and was going to bring a huge boon to this area. That boon never happened,” according to Gonnelli. “If you rode down Route 3 on game day, you wouldn’t have known that a game was being played there. There wasn’t one banner, there wasn’t one sign; there was nothing to indicate that the Super Bowl was being held in the state of New Jersey. If you took a ride through the Lincoln Tunnel, as you got out the other side, you certainly knew that there was a Super Bowl in the area because every pole, every sign, had a banner, had a flag, had something that said Super Bowl on it. So I think we were slighted, and I think the state of New Jersey really was done an injustice. Not only did we not reap the benefits of this big game in our hotels and our restaurants and our mom and pops, but we’re the ones that foot the bill.”
“I think it’s time that the NFL really steps up to the plate and recognizes what happened here, takes some responsibility and makes it right,” said the mayor.
Officials did say that “Winter Blast” was a success.
“We estimate about 8,000 to 10,000 people came out,” said Gonnelli. “We probably sold in excess of 7,000 tickets. All of the town’s expenses, as promised, were covered, which included police.”
Gonnelli added that an estimated $24,000 was collected, “to be distributed amongst our charitable organizations that helped out: the emergency fund, UNICO, Spectrum Works, K&S and the Fire Department.”
As expected, security was a major issue.
“Everybody behaved very well, whether they were from town or not,” said Councilman Gary Jeffas. “We only had I think one arrest and one summons given out related to [the Super Bowl].” In addition, “the police in conjunction with Hudson County and several other agencies participated in a task force for prostitution over the Super Bowl weekend. Three of our detectives were involved in that task force and there were 13 arrests for prostitution in hotels throughout the area.”
Thanks were given to the many individuals and groups who contributed to the success of the event, including the Office of Emergency Management and other volunteers who contributed countless hours during the event and throughout the months of preparation.
Charlie and Tara Krajewski from Charlie’s Corner, the local tavern that sponsored the beer garden, made a special presentation to the Fire Department, gifting them with a check—and souvenir t-shirts.
Also receiving a donation was UNICO, a charitable organization that volunteered all three days of the event. UNICO received a check from Ed Danbury. “Ed provided us with the Lombardi Trophy and also the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum that was there for two days,” said the mayor.
Councilman Mark Dehnert reported that this year the regulations are changing for the Secaucus town pool. Going forward the pool will be open to town residents and their guests only.
“The pool membership has been declining but the pool guest passes and day passes have been increasing tremendously,” said Gonnelli. “One of the reasons we feel that less residents are joining is because there are so many people from out of town at the pool.”
More information on the change will be available around April. Prior to that, improvements to the pool are being made, including fixing leaks, adding cabanas, and increasing water features for children.
Councilwoman Susan Pirro announced a new green restaurant initiative sponsored by the town in collaboration with the New Jersey Meadowland Commission. “The Meadowlands Commission received a grant in 2013 from the EPA for their green restaurant initiative to help restaurants in the Meadowlands area go green,” she said. “We’re committed to going green and to helping the environment.
A program aimed at veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless was announced by Councilman William McKeever. The North Hudson Community Action Corporation is providing case management and assistance as appropriate. Their contact number is (201) 583-6822.
Auditors are currently in-house and working on the town’s annual financial statements, according to Councilman Robert Costantino. The task should be completed this month, after which work will begin on the annual budget.
At press time, another in the long series of winter storms was about to hit. “If you’re reading the papers, salt has been an issue,” said Gonnelli. “We do have an adequate amount of salt for at least one more storm and we supposedly have two loads coming.”
Councilman James Clancy asked that residents clear snow around hydrants to make it easier for the Fire Department to access them in the event of a fire.
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.