Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
NEW YORK – Super Cold?
NFL officials aren’t just bracing for potential wintry weather at next year’s Northeastern Super Bowl – they’re embracing it, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.
The first Super Bowl ever in the New York metropolitan area is almost exactly a year away in a region currently clenched by bitter cold, reviving chatter about whether the weather will chill fans’ enthusiasm. But Goodell said the league would be prepared if there’s snow, ice or low temperatures for the game on Feb. 2, 2014.
“Football is made to be played in the elements,” he said as he and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg previewed a week of city events leading up to the championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the Giants and Jets. Pre-game parties and other activities also are set in New Jersey.
“We’re going to celebrate the game here, we’re going to celebrate the weather, and we’re going to make it a great experience,” Goodell said.
Jets owner Woody Johnson acknowledged that “this is going to be challenging.” But, he added, “it’s going to be a lot of fun. ... We have to welcome this weather, and we will.”
The Super Bowl has never been played outdoors in a cold-weather setting before. Organizers are positioning it as a cool – perhaps literally – new experience for fans and a lucrative showcase for both New Jersey and New York City, which are sometimes grudging neighbors. Events will range from a pre-game tailgate party at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey to a four-day festival that will shut down 10 blocks of Broadway.
An early estimate suggested the 2014 Super Bowl could generate $550 million to $600 million in economic activity on both sides of the Hudson River, host committee president Al Kelly said.
For New York, the event also evokes the sports-centered spectacle Bloomberg aimed to stage when the city proposed to host the 2012 Olympics, a plan that centered on building a stadium for the Jets on Manhattan’s far West Side. A state board ultimately nixed the stadium proposal amid traffic and other concerns.
The stadium could have brought the Super Bowl itself to the city, as the NFL at one point agreed the Jets could host the 2010 game if they had the new Manhattan facility. Instead, they and the Giants got a new home in MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010.
Much of the activity surrounding the 2014 Super Bowl will be in New Jersey. Players will stay and train there, and a media day, tailgate party and some other events will be at various New Jersey venues.
“We’re getting a good share of the economic activity,” Gov. Chris Christie said, noting “the number and quality of events” planned in his state.
New Jersey also hopes to have legal gambling on the game, at the race track. Christie signed a sports betting bill into law last year, but the NFL and other sports leagues have sued to try to stop it.
New York City, meanwhile, will close Broadway between West 34th and West 44th streets, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 of 2014, for a free “Super Bowl Boulevard” celebration featuring player appearances, football clinics and a 36-foot-tall “XLVIII” in Times Square.
The game’s media center, expected to host about 5,000 journalists, and the televised NFL Honors awards show also will be in the city, where NFL headquarters are located.
“I think New York City is already the nation’s Super Bowl champion of tourism,” Bloomberg said.
The city estimates it drew some 52 million visitors last year.
Associated Press writer David Porter in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.
Rick Osentorski/Associated Press