Super Bowl wins New Jersey acclaim as capital of transit hell

So one thing I neglected to talk about in last month’s Sports on Earth column about the economic impact of the Super Bowl was the idea that hosting the Big Game™ could put your city on the map as a tourist destination. And now I’m sorry I left that out, because who can put a price on the publicity value of this?

“Jersey sucks!” they had shouted in unison while stuck for 90 minutes in a Secaucus stairwell, some with only their Seattle Skittles to sustain them, dour demeanors in contrast with the bright sherbet colors of Bronco orange and Seahawk lime. “Train! Train! Train!”
And this:

And this:

After the winner’s celebration – Seattle defeated Denver, 43-8 – an announcement was made over the public address system that anyone planning to take the train “should remain in the stadium due to the congestion on the platforms.”

To put a capper on it, angry fans blamed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the transit nightmare, because sure, why not?

In related news, Salon’s Alex Pareene has written an article that I’ve always wanted to write, namely that since the Super Bowl doesn’t actually bring any benefits to host cities (aside from being able to point and laugh at other people being trapped at Secaucus Junction instead of you), and the NFL really only cares about being able to force fans to buy their official products, the league should just “build a giant arena somewhere in the desert outside Vegas, or maybe southern California somewhere, and just make it the permanent home of the Super Bowl.” Pareene continues:

The league can build its little Super Bowl village with its NFL Experience stuff, and keep it up all year, a whole little town dedicated to the majesty of football. All of this crap currently clogging Broadwaycould have a permanent, lucrative home! It would be a football theme park for most of the year, and then for one week it would be a mecca of stupid, bloated NFL excess. The arena would be state-of-the-art, indoors and climate-controlled, with a zillion luxury boxes and maybe a couple of normal seats for “regular” “fans.” Every single aspect of the entire experience could be controlled as minutely as Disney’s imagineers control Disneyland. Everyone wins, besides the people attending the game and various players with catastrophic head trauma.

It’s actually an excellent idea, except for the part where it would prevent individual NFL teams from trying to hold up their home towns for new stadium money by holding out the carrot of hosting a Super Bowl someday. Other than that, though, it could totally work, and in fact shouldn’t be limited to—

This is also how to fix the Olympics.


11 comments on “Super Bowl wins New Jersey acclaim as capital of transit hell

  1. Brilliant idea. NFLand. Wonder if anybody has proposed the idea to the NFL previously? Gotta believe somebody has thought about it before.

  2. and how much money do you think the lucky state that would win this ( admittedly just a fantasy)development deal would have to spend to build it for the NFL?

  3. Hey Neil, in your near decade of posting on this, is there like a table somewhere of which stadium hosted the superbowl and the number of years since the last major renovation on that stadium ? Something that shows that major trend (other than, how else would we end up with a superbowl in East Ruthorford or Minneapolis.

  4. No, but feel free to roll your own:

  5. It’s a great point Parene makes…. but it does sound quite a bit like something from Miracle on 34th St…

    The superbowl village idea would be wonderful for absolutely everybody except the only group that could decide to do it.

    So it will never happen, just like our respective governments using tax dollars for public benefit rather than the benefit of Military Industrial Corporations, hefty tax cuts for the highest earners in the nation, and medical care available only to those who can pay for it, despite the fact that a good part of the research it is based on being funded by all taxpayers.

    At least in the case of the superbowl, host cities in the sights of the Parasite can simply say no. The only reason the threats work is that elected officials are afraid of what might happen to them if they don’t say yes.

    Maybe we should be making them afraid of what will happen to their careers if they do say yes instead.

  6. Similar to ChefJoe’s question, has Neil or anyone else compiled a ranking of the worst and best cities when it comes to hosing team owners down with public cash and goodies? I’m so disgusted with the recent stadium nonsense in Atlanta I’m going to move but don’t want to jump out of the pot and into the fire.

  7. @Jason,
    I have asked Neil before if he has a best and worst screwed over city ranking and he declined to do any rankings.

    My take-away was that he preferred to approach each deal as unique and special (like children) and that any rating or ranking would be far too easy to focus on rather than to actually examine the underpinnings. My other thought was “what sort of spreadsheet from hell would you use to compare these things” and even attempting to do so would probably drive most men to run away, screaming. (that last phrase runs through my head in the same voice used for The Neverending Story).

  8. My standard line has been to quote Chekhov: Every unhappy stadium deal is unhappy in its own way.

    Also, before anyone goes making important life choices based on past stadium performance, if you’d asked me ten years ago what city had done the best at holding out against sports shakedowns, I might well have said Minneapolis. Today, not so much.

  9. Pavel or Anton?

    Anyway, I’d agree it’s very hard to compare stadium deals. For one thing, the regulatory and legislative environment keeps changing. No EB-5 or PILOT plans to exploit when Three Rivers was built, I’d wager.

    In the examples of the RCA dome, the King Dome and old Giants stadium, I believe there was still money owed on the old stadium debt when each was razed…

    It’s also true that many stadium deals include clauses that are impossible to put an actual dollar figure on (like the ticket buyback arrangements, or holographic display clauses etc).

    I think we can all feel Jason’s pain re: the Atlanta situation, but the point I’d make is that you might find anywhere you want to move to that HASN’T agreed to a stupid stadium deal could be next in line for exploitation… whereas at least if you stay in Atlanta you have fairly new baseball & football stadia that will serve their tenants for a good long… oh, wait…

  10. Supposedly, those of us in King County Washington can expect to retire the Kingdome bond debt in 2015. Then we’ll put some of those hotel/motel/car rental taxes to work paying for the Seahawks’ current stadium.

  11. We were told that having a Super Bowl here in Detroit would bring in x million dollars of revenue and spending…”x” was subject to change; I saw estimates from fifty million to three hundred million, It all reminded me of how Frank Rashid of the Tiger Stadium Fan Club figured out where these figures come from–they throw darts at a dart board and whatever number they hit, they add “million dollars.”

    I can’t say that the game didn’t produce any lasting effects on Detroit, but I haven’t seen any and if anyone has discovered any, they haven’t said. So the fallback position was that yeah, maybe we wouldn’t see an immediate dollars and cents impact on the city, but it would lead to investment and new businesses and such because people would see what a great place Detroit is to do business, how we can put on a show, etc.

    Thanks to the magic of the internet I spent an interesting evening a couple of days after the game checking a few US and foreign newspaper reports. The consensus was: Nice party; friendly people; the city is a pit. I can’t believe anyone was moved even to think about investing in Detroit by anything that happened that weekend.