By Chris Strauss, USA TODAY
HOBOKEN, N.J. - Hey, Super Bowl fans, New Jersey's got your number.
A 16-foot, illuminated XLVIII statue, to be exact. The giant installation, designed by a local architect and being put into place this weekend, will sit on the edge of the Hudson River, visible to thousands of VIP partygoers descending upon the West Side of Manhattan, N.Y., next week for exclusive Super Bowl parties thrown by, among others, DirecTV, GQ and Bud Light.
Similar statues have dotted the landscape of recent host cities, but there's more symbolism in the placement of Super Bowl XLVIII's edition in Hoboken's Pier A Park. While the game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will be played in New Jersey, the event has been unofficially touted as the New York Super Bowl; many official game signs, not to mention the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, give top billing to the Empire State.
It's something Garden State residents are accustomed to, with both of the state's NFL teams, the Jets and Giants, billing themselves as New York teams despite playing their home games in East Rutherford, N.J. Even Hoboken's most noteworthy son, Frank Sinatra, ended up crooning a trademark song about making it in "ol' New York."
"The city is going all out in Times Square, where our offices are, with the whole Super Bowl Boulevard," says Chris Mitchell, publisher of GQ magazine, which will host its annual A-list Super Bowl pre-party atop the Standard Hotel in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. "They're not doing that in Newark. The epicenter of the city is New York, even though the game is in New Jersey.
The five-term mayor of the game's host borough, which has a population of nearly 9,000 on non-event days at MetLife Stadium, thinks his state isn't getting enough respect for its role in staging the mega event.
"I understand the game would not be here if not for New York," East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella told USA TODAY Sports. "I get it. I enjoy New York, too. I go there a lot. And in East Rutherford I expect to get disrespected, but the state of New Jersey is being left out of the mix.
"I get the impression the NFL could care less about New Jersey," says Cassella, a Giants season-ticketholder who said he doesn't have a Super Bowl ticket.
Some hot spots
That's not to say New Jersey isn't seeing a spillover benefit, especially in places near Manhattan. While the NFL cannot control where the parties are held, the league made sure New Jersey was the site of game-related activities. Both team hotels are in New Jersey, and on Tuesday the Prudential Center in Newark will host that annual frenzy known as Super Bowl media day.
Player interviews during Super Bowl week will be in New Jersey, the Seahawks at the Westin Jersey City and the Broncos holding their media availabilities on the Cornucopia Majesty, a 30,000-square-foot luxury party ship that will be docked in Jersey City.
The top New Jersey hotels also expect to do well, with easy access to public transit that is equally convenient for guests looking to enjoy Manhattan all week and get to the game Sunday.
The W Hoboken is blocks from the XLVIII statue and the "Hoboken Huddle," a week-long festival beginning Monday that will feature ice skating, entertainment and other attractions. The luxury hotel has been booked to near capacity for Super Bowl weekend for months, with a standard room, normally priced from $300 to $500, going for $832 a night with a minimum three-night stay.
"We have about 50 rooms for the (Super Bowl) weekend which are currently selling at a somewhat interesting pace," says Pedro Dias, general manager at W Hoboken. "We are confident that we are going to sell out for the weekend."
Big game, bigger city
What the game's economic impact will be on both sides of the Hudson is up for debate, as it is at every Super Bowl. The NFL estimates that hosting the game could bring $600 million in additional revenue to New York and New Jersey, up substantially from last year's estimated $480 million impact in New Orleans. Economists and researchers disagree, estimating the impact between $60 million and $100 million.
One fact that is not debatable: While a Super Bowl might stretch hotel capacity in some cities, that's far from the case in New York, where there are 82,000 hotel rooms in Manhattan alone.
"There is tons of hotel availability, from the Ritz Carlton to the roadside motels at the Holland Tunnel," Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva, a New York City-based sports marketing firm that puts together travel packages to big events, said in an e-mail. "It's actually the great thing about NYC/NJ hosting the Super Bowl; there is tons of space for fans making late decisions on rooms. Much more than I ever anticipated."
That additional availability prompted at least one luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan to create a last-minute Super Bowl package that oozes New York City hubris. At the Sofitel New York, $100,000 gets 20 guests 10 double-occupancy luxury suites over Super Bowl weekend, a daily breakfast, round-trip transportation to MetLife Stadium and game tickets in Section 300.
Yes, when it comes to being big, the Super Bowl might have met its match in the Big Apple.
"To New York City, this whole 'big party headed to town' is more doable than most cities because the infrastructure is there to make it work," says Brooklyn Decker, a top model who is co-hosting the first night of the annual two-night Leather & Laces Super Bowl party in Times Square next Friday. "As big of a weekend as this is, I feel as it's a little 'been there, done that' for New Yorkers."
While Decker, several of her model friends, a number of other A-list entertainers and athletes will be partying in Manhattan next weekend before trekking out to stadium luxury suites for the game, most residents of New York and New Jersey won't end up doing anything all that different from their normal routine.
"It's good for the economy of this area to have the Super Bowl here, but it doesn't make a big difference to me one way or the other," says Scott Hunter of Old Bridge, N.J. "I wasn't going to be going to it anyway - I wasn't going to be able to afford it - so I'll be watching on TV, whether it's here or not."
Contributing: Erik Brady and the Asbury Park Press.