After months of anticipation, the Super Bowl will finally come to New Jersey this week. The view from my office window overlooks the stadium, and I’ve been listening to the expert opinions about what a boon this will be to New Jersey for over a year. No doubt, the economic impact of the Super Bowl will be huge, even with all of the expenses for extra security, clean up and the like. But has anyone considered the reputational impact of the Super Bowl for New Jersey? And that it might not be positive?
The weather certainly won’t help…but it also can’t be helped. Some very wise airline executives I know always say, when Mother Nature is winning, let her. Playing the game in a stadium without a dome during the coldest winter on record would be just about our luck. Who knows how many fans will become sick or injured due to the cold, and with the traffic in and out of the stadium, we know they will have to be there early. But I hardly think we can hold a state responsible for the weather, and the committee chose to have the game in a dome-less stadium.
Here are my three reasons why the Super Bowl could actually harm NJ’s reputation:
- Traffic/Infrastructure – after nearly two decades working across the highway from the stadium, I can definitively say, without the need to conduct a study or create a feasibility report, that the roadways can’t support the stadium volume. I’ve battled the traffic on game days, concert days, and the worst traffic day I can recall: when the Pope came to Giants Stadium. The Super Bowl will be worse. I’m sure there will be more than a few fans who paid the equivalent of a mortgage or a car for tickets, and spend a good part of the game in their cars.
- The (ahem) scenic views – so much of the negative perception of New Jersey is based on the limited view from the New Jersey Turnpike, the drive from Newark Airport to New York City, or the length of Route 95 yields sights, sounds and smells that don’t particularly put our home state’s best foot forward. So many people think all of New Jersey looks like Bayonne, and the trip to the stadium won’t do much to change that. Add on the eyesore previously known as the Xanadu Project…I am not sure people will be lining up to pre-book their return trip to Mall of America, Jersey style.
- New York City – one of our region’s best attributes is its proximity to New York City. And while the game is being played in New Jersey, it is actually being co-hosted by New York. The media continues to portray the games as a NY Super Bowl, much to Corey Booker’s chagrin. It will be interesting to see how much of the economic windfall actually comes to New Jersey vs. New York. Add on the media’s insistence on stories like this one that reinforce the New Jersey stereotypes, and you’ve got a less than ideal positioning of New Jersey as the armpit of New York City.
Of course, all of this may prove to be a real win for the stripper who has been waiting 30 years for the Super Bowl to come to New Jersey, because she can finally promote her reality show concept “The Real Life Strippers of the Bada Bing.”
Will the Super Bowl be good for New Jersey’s reputation? Fugeddaboutit.