In just 19 months, thousands of football fans will descend upon Bergen County for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in February 2014. And the main question for many, is whether or not Bergen County will be ready by then. On Friday afternoon at the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack, Rich Petriccione, Senior VP of Philanthropy and Community Relations for the 2014 NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee and invited guests from around the County and Bergen LEADS tackled that topic.
"The Super Bowl is not just coming to New Jersey, it's coming to Bergen County," Petriccione said. "Nine states have hosted the Super Bowl for the past 46 years and New Jersey would be just the 10th, so it is important to do a great job and change the paradigm for all Super Bowls going forward."
Predominately, The NFL requires that a Super Bowl hosting stadium must have an average temperature of 50 degrees or higher in February or be held in an indoor climate-controlled facility. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell waived that requirement as MetLife Stadium would be a "unique, once-only circumstance based on the opportunity to celebrate the new stadium and the great heritage and history of the NFL in the New York region."
New York and New Jersey beat out both the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, both in Florida during the May 2010 bidding process. Miami has hosted the championship game 10 times followed by Tampa with five.
When the Super Bowl comes to Bergen County, it will be one of many firsts, according to Petriccione.
This will be the first time the Super Bowl is hosted by two states, hosted by two teams, located in the northeast and played outdoors in a cold weather environment as MetLife Stadium does not feature a roof.
"The Super Bowl would generate approximately $500 million for the local economy," Petriccione said. "The teams will stay and practice in New Jersey, the fans will be staying in New Jersey. New Jersey is the star of the show. Indianopolis had 8,000 volunteers last year, New Jersey will need double that because of the much larger geographic footprint."
But to help get Bergen County ready for a large influx of people, the County and local municipalities will have to start thinking about ways to maximize the economic value in the region and create a business development program.
Part of that planning has already begun with the Bergen LEADS Class of 2012 project, which would focus on.
"It's about engaging not only local residents but travelers as well and convincing them to stay and play in Bergen County," River Edge resident Michelle Ogden and Bergen LEADS Class of 2012 member said.
"This is a way to bring money to Bergen County and showcase our events, restaurants, etc," Rev. Matt Tittle of Oradell added.
Destination Bergen would highlight all recreation, food and fund, history, culture and transporation in the County. It will officially launch this winter and be completely organized by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.
"The bottom line is to create memories for visitors, guests and residents," Petriccione said. "You want people to feel safe, that they were part of a historic moment and want to come back to New Jersey."