NEW YORK — Super Bowl week has officially kicked off — culminating four years of planning and work by the New York/New Jersey host committee.
League representatives, team owners and government agencies are anticipating a smooth week for the approximately 400,000 tourists who will descend on the area in the coming days.
“It's been an amazing journey,” Al Kelly, president of the Super Bowl host committee, said at a news conference here. “We are thrilled to welcome” Super Bowl XLVIII.
Despite the planning there are a few factors that can't be controlled. For starters, the weather.
As of Monday, meteorologists were calling for near optimal winter weather — about 40 degrees with little to no precipitation on Sunday for the Broncos-Seahawks game. But if it does snow, stadium workers will be called in to clear it off the field and seats, then use specialty equipment to melt the tons of snow.
“The ideal lead time is 18 hours,” said Eric Grubman, executive vice president of the National Football League. “It could be done in less (time), but it will not take more.”
When asked what kind of weather the host committee hoped for, New York Jets owner and committee co-chair Woody Johnson said: “Perfect weather,” adding that he wants some sunshine and snow flurries.
New York Giants co-chairman Jonathan Tisch expressed more concern for the stadium workers and visitors who would be subjected to the cold conditions. He cautioned fans to dress appropriately for any kind of weather.
Sunday's game is being touted as the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl and if it goes off without a hitch, it could clear the way for sites such as Denver to host a future big game.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, an open-air stadium in a traditionally cold-weather state, could be a contender in the future. Johnson said NFL owners selecting New York/New Jersey broke “the ice barrier. The game is played in all weather, so why shouldn't the Super Bowl be played in all weather?”
Asked if cities like Denver had a shot at serving as host, Johnson said, “I would think so. ... I would hope so.”
Visitors and game attendees are encouraged to plan ahead.
“This is not a game where you can just hop in your car and pull up to the stadium,” Kelly said. “You need a ticket to the game, but you also need a ticket to the site. ... Don't show up without a plan and be disappointed.”
In addition to being the first cold-weather game, the hosts are claiming it to be the first mass-transit Super Bowl.
Roughly 80,000 fans will pack MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and roughly two-thirds of them are expected to arrive via public transportation. Parking is limited and access near the stadium is restricted. An estimated 45,000-50,000 fans will take the bus to the game and an additional 10,000-12,000 people will take the subway, Kelly said.
The host committee has also learned from recent lessons of the past — including prepping for and working to prevent a repeat of last year's blackout in New Orleans. The stadium was inspected repeatedly to avoid this situation, Kelly said.
For the fans who want a piece of the action, but can't afford to shell out extra cash for a seat to the game, they can head to Times Square where a large outdoor “fanfest” area has been created and dubbed Super Bowl Boulevard. It's free and open to the public with various events taking place each day.