New York's Meadowlands Stadium: Why They Should Not Get To Host The Super Bowl

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent IMay 20, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 07:  A general view of the New Meadowlands Stadium prior to the match between Ecuador and Mexico in the 2010 FMF U.S. Tour on May 7, 2010 at  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

A New York Super Bowl kind of warms the heart and chills out the rest of the body. T

he decision on what city will host Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 will be made this week.

I live in the Meadowlands, one town away from the Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

I attended Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida in 2005.

I am not one of those people who hate NFL game days in our area. The traffic gets congested around Route Three and the New Jersey Turnpike, so you just know what to avoid on those 16 home dates for the Jets and Giants combined.

When I was in Jacksonville for the big game, I realized that the city really should say it is part of Georgia and not Florida.

Before kickoff and when the sun was out, the temperature nearly approached 70 degrees on that first Sunday in February. But, as the game went on and got later into the night the temperature fell and by the conclusion of the game the temperature felt around 50 degrees and I regretted not wearing heavier clothes.

There is practically no chance that the high for a Super Bowl game in East Rutherford would come anywhere near 50 degrees.  

I could not imagine how many people who would stay if they did not have a rooting interest in the game as many with a ticket will be in the stands. 

The game would feel just like another playoff game and not the Super Bowl.

A good number of people who attend the Super Bowl are not really there because they have a rooting interest in the winner of the game.

The city of Jacksonville is quite large in terms of its size, but in terms of its common areas and areas for tourist hospitality it fell pretty flat.

The people were quite friendly and did their best to put on a World Class event, even though their city just did not have enough entertainment or hotels to satisfy the additional guests to Northern Florida.

There were very few roads in and out of then Alltel Stadium and the traffic on Super Sunday was probably the worst you could imagine.

I do believe that the NFL should limit itself for a decent weather outdoor Super Bowl to cities like Miami, San Diego, Tampa, the Rose Bowl (if the NFL could ever get that deal back) and a city with an indoor stadium with ample entertainment surroundings besides the big game.

Would the halftime music act wear mink coats and knit hats to perform in New Jersey?

There is a reason that 99 percent of outdoor concerts are held when the weather is likely to be nice, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

The reason you sit out in the cold, wind and snow in January is because of your loyalty to your team. Not many would choose to sit outside for five or six hours on a cold February because they like it.

As much as I would like to say it is about the cold weather, there really is so much more to that for me.

This New Meadowlands Stadium cost $1.6 billion.

That stadium in Glendale, Arizona, cost about 3.5 times less than the one in the Meadowlands and has not only a retractable roof, but the field is also retractable at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Even, Jerry Jones palace that will host Super Bowl XLV in Texas cost $300 million less than this one.

The outside of the New Meadowlands stadium looks like it is covered in Reynolds Wrap. The outer façade is aluminum on top of aluminum.  

The New Meadowlands Stadium does not have a corporate name on it yet, but Alcoa, the company that owns Reynolds Wrap should really consider making a deal that looks like a great advertisement for their products.

There will be blue lights for the Giants and green for the Jets when they play their home games.

There is not a revealing feature about the place like you find at other stadiums.

For example, the Lighthouse at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the enormous sliding glass doors and humongous HDTV at Cowboys Stadium, or the riverside locations like Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

The Upper Section now dwarfs in terms of height, the last row in the old stadium is now about the fourth row of the upper section.

The bottom few rows at the New Meadowlands Stadium are at the top of where the last row was at Giants Stadium.

The designs that were submitted for the West Side Stadium looked amazing and truly state-of-the-art.

The stadium that is built in East Rutherford does not appear to be the same.

The only thing that the New Meadowlands Stadium has going for it in terms of looks is that it looks stunning when compared to the old Izod Center Arena and New Jersey’s latest boondoggle, the Meadowlands Xanadu , which on the outside appears to look like a cross between the insulation that one would use for siding and your grandmother’s old curtains.

The Xanadu is a multi-billion complex that is to include an indoor ski park, indoor fishing pond, Legoland, and other shopping and entertainment choices.

The project has been so poorly run that no one is sure if it will ever open and some have already called it the worst retail failure ever.

Madison Square Garden will not open its doors for any Super Bowl festivities.

Madison Square Garden vehemently fought against any construction of a West Side Stadium that would have made their building less competitive in terms of getting concerts, conventions, and other special events that a newer and more modern facility could handle better than the Garden.

The cost of that West Side Stadium was slated to be around $1.1 billion, which is half a billion less than what it cost for the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Some may remember that in 1996, on that same swamp ground, the NCAA Final Four was held. That Final Four was played at then, Continental Airlines Arena, now Izod Center. It would be the last Final Four to be played in a non-stadium facility.

If you walk along the streets of the New York Metropolitan area ask someone who can name the four teams that participated in that season’s Final Four? Do you remember who won the National Championship in 1996?

The answers to those questions are, Mississippi State, UMass, Syracuse and Kentucky. Kentucky won the title.

Did that Final Four really create any type of economic boom for the area? Not much.

Granted, if the Final Four in 1996 consisted of St. John’s, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Temple, the tournament may be remembered and talked about a little bit more than it is today in this area.

If the Giants and/or the Jets made the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands it would be a monumental event in this area. But, if they did not, it would be an event remembered like the 1996 Final Four, it was nice to have, but life in the big city moved forward.

In my opinion, it would have been much easier for the Giants and Jets to convince the NFL that they would leave the retractable roof open during play than to not even bother with a roof because the owners were afraid of losing home-field advantage.

I am sure there are a number of fans that would not mind getting a slight break from the swirling Meadowlands winds and some of the rain or snow that could fall on them during a game.

Had this stadium been built like the West Side Stadium, I would feel differently. The West Side Stadium was a nice idea, but its practicality due to its lack of space for cars, parking and tailgating it just was not going to fly with football fans or the surrounding residents.

The City of New York and the State of New Jersey could have easily benefited in so many more ways than just football and concerts with a roof on the New Meadowlands Stadium.

There are many conventions that end up in Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, or other cities, because New York does not have a Convention Center that is big enough to host some prestigious events that would like to be in New York, but New York does not have a single large facility to house these large conventions.

I would definitely agree that the Super Bowl should find its way to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, but because the owners of the Giants and Jets basically only thought about themselves and their teams and not the greater good of the entire area that covers over 10 million Americans.

The NFL by allowing a cold weather, open-air stadium to host a Super Bowl would be opening the door for every team to host the Super Bowl. Bids from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, FedEx field outside of D.C., Qwest Field in Seattle, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, etc., would all have a legitimate claim to put their bid in and have it accepted by the league.

Welllington Mara, aka, “The Duke,” made a sacrifice that few would even think about doing today.

He sacrificed some of his team’s profits and shared them with teams from smaller markets in order to make the NFL a better product around the country.

The Giants are currently owned by the Mara family and the Tisch family. Both of whom have their sons at the helm of the organization.

Woody Johnson, the Jets owner, was born into the wealthy Johnson & Johnson fortune and took over the club from the Hess family, after Leon Hess passed away in 1999.

Leon Hess was the last owner that did not force his fans to pay for preseason games. That was a significant savings to the fans.

All of these men, thanks to the hard work of their family tree were born with silver spoons are simply looking at the maximum profit that they can attain by owning these two highly valuable assets.

The fans of these two clubs, who used to have some of the largest waiting lists to get season tickets in sport, have now exhausted those lists in a year’s time.

But the new ownership in the Meadowlands are now second and third-generation from their fathers and grandfathers and did not have to work their way up to the top because they were already there from birth.

The new stadium was banking on that impressive waiting list and a flourishing economy when they broke ground on September 5, 2007.

They both decided to implement Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) About a year later, both the waiting list and the prosperous economy were gone.

What Giants and Jets fans should have done is told the owners to “stick it” with their PSLs. Unfortunately, not enough people did and on the Giants side of the ledger all of their non-club level seat PSLs have been sold. The Jets have not been nearly as successful in their PSL sales.

The Jets did not have a PSL fee for their upper section.

The Jets have more than 10,000 unsold PSLs despite the millions that the team has spent in advertisements for these seats and the fact that the Jets are coming off their best finish to a season since 1998.

The Jets have been nice enough to put a Payment Calculator on their website to help you figure out which payment plan to purchase your PSL and then pay over $100 per ticket per season on top of that.

It is a sad day when you have to use the same methods you would use to calculate a mortgage on a house to attend a football game.

Somewhere, Wellington Mara and Leon Hess are shaking their heads. The people that took over ownership of their teams will not be remembered as fondly as they were when they left us.

They do not deserve the rights to reap any benefits from the financial windfall that could fall their way by hosting the biggest sporting event in America. Unless, they decide to give back some of the profits to those fans that paid their Personal Seat Licensing fees which went to pay off their debts for the construction of the stadium.

Like the stadium in Jacksonville, there is nothing that a fan or guest could walk to besides the stadium. People would be leaving either by car, bus or train back to Manhattan and leave East Rutherford in the dust.

Since September 11, 2001, there are four new stadiums that are up and running. In 2007, the Prudential Center opened in Newark for the Devils, Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium opened for play in 2009, and now the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford.

It will be interesting to see which will be completed first, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn that will host the Nets, or the Freedom Tower.

I know where I would put my money if I had to bet, and that would be on the more profitable one.

We always knew that sports is a business, we just did not know it was as cutthroat as Wall Street.

Talk about being left out in the cold.


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