Destination: New Jersey – The Logistics of a Tri-State Super Bowl
As Super Bowl XLVIII descends on New Jersey this weekend, much has been made of the decision to host the world's largest individual sporting event in the tri-state area.
The heavy traffic and colder weather conditions have some predicting a less enjoyable big game experience than previous years. Meanwhile, others in similarly 'tough winter' states are rooting for NY/NJ to put on a spectacle that will pave the way for cities like Boston, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh to host future Super Bowls.
Much of the outcome will depend on how well the logistics of the event have been planned in advance and are managed on the day.
One of the biggest concerns for attendees is how to get to the stadium. For all of its big game pedigree, being home to two well-supported NFL teams and hosting numerous events by international artists throughout the year, the Meadowlands complex can be a tough location to access. Roads wind around the stadium in every direction, but the tight nature and numerous choke points make it difficult to imagine fans, officials and the national media descending upon the location without severe jams.
To expedite (or, more accurately, to execute) the automobile concern, the NFL implemented a controversial mandate of only two options for fans to gain access to the stadium area: either ride NJ transit at the usual rates or pay a $51 premium to take the 'Fan Express' shuttle service, approved by the NFL. Rather than see this as a move full of logistical foresight, most are calling it as an exercise in extortion by the NFL. That view is somewhat supported by the fact that no-one will be allowed to walk into the Meadowlands area either, with only safety and security as the potential reasoning.
The concern over traffic is justified, but the measures to tackle it will seem like overkill to almost everyone outside of the NFL organization.
Finally, we come to the weather. Cities across the U.S. have been battered by the polar vortex and subsequent icy blasts from the Arctic, but only one of those locations is the focus for thousands of fans and more than 100 million viewers this weekend.
Even if the weather cooperates for the athletes at the Super Bowl, it could hold challenges for the transportation system. The tri-state area has experienced weeks of frozen temperatures and a couple of snow storms, each of which has delayed public transit to some extent. On the flip side, that makes transit authorities all the more used to dealing with such conditions and able to plan fall back logistics for areas they know could be a problem.
If the extended forecast as of today is accurate, though, they won't need them, as the snow is expected to hold off until Monday. At last, something we can all cheer together.
Whether you're at home or heading out to Super Bowl XLVIII, stay safe and enjoy the big game!