It's epic gridiron action. Two well-known entities going head-to-head in a Feb. 2 football game that will bring power, notoriety and money.
But this isn't about who will be the 2014 Super Bowl champ. This is about two neighboring states - New York and New Jersey - that each want its share of the hundreds of millions in economic spending that Super Bowl XLVIII is slated to bring in.
They're on one team as official game co-hosts, but they'll compete for hotel guests, partygoers, restaurant reservations and overall bragging rights.
New Jersey's vocal governor, Chris Christie, has stressed that the game's East Rutherford, NJ stadium is on his state's turf, saying in a NFL Media interview that as long as everyone understands the Super Bowl "is in New Jersey, not New York, then I'm fine."
"Yet, stadium location and Chris Christie notwithstanding, this Super Bowl is all about New York," says sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman. "That's where the action is: the hotels, restaurants, nightlife, business headquarters, media outlets, pre-game party sites, you name it."
"New York will shine brightly, with most all of the branding and spending happening there," he says. "New Jersey will mainly be an afterthought."
And as predicted by East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella,New York City has garnered most of the Super Sunday attention so far.
The Big Apple is hosting one of the biggest attractions around the game: Super Bowl Boulevard, which is a ten-block stretch down Broadway that will have concerts, athlete autograph signings and a seven-story-tall toboggan slide ride. And deep-pocketed companies such as DirecTV and Anheuser-Busch InBev have selected Manhattan as the location for their lavish, star-studded parties.
Bill La Rosa, director of the Hudson County division of cultural and tourism affairs in New Jersey, says his North Jersey region is "working hard" to grab a sliver of the spotlight -- and spending -- that often goes to New York City. But it's a challenge.
MetLife Stadium "is in one (state) and you have a lot of parties and official activation in another," he says.
He's well aware that New Jersey is the butt of many jokes, but he says that even "the underdog of states in this country" deserves a chance to show the world that it can be a desirable tourist destination.
"New York doesn't get hurt, and we all benefit if the visitor knows they have the opportunity to do things in New York and New Jersey," he says.
If potential visitors knew all that New Jersey had to offer, they may extend vacation time in both New York and New Jersey, turning what could be a quick trip to New York City into a "long-haul" vacation.
"It's a win-win for both states," he says.
With the massive attention coming on Super Sunday, New Jersey will get a chance to showcase its state - but it has to figure out how to best communicate its message, says Paul Swangard, managing director of the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
It "needs to be able to use this event to communicate to the millions and millions of people watching at home that New Jersey is a place to pay attention to," he says.
But it may need a hail mary.
New York City is like the successful, attention-grabbing older sibling who has "a fabulous reputation" for hosting amazing parties, while New Jersey is the younger brother in the shadow, he says. "New York always stands to be seen as the big brother."
Some things that put New Jersey at a home-field disadvantage:
Transportation troubles: There are still questions about the stadium parking restrictions and no clear answers on how mass transportation will work. "We're still waiting to hear how people will have access the stadium parking lot," says Himanshu Dadarwala, owner of a New Jersey Econo Lodge so close to MetLife stadium that "you can hear the crowd" on game days. Without that information, he's not able to answer perspective guest's questions about how they can get to the game from his hotel or plan out transportation for them. Official details on the transportation plans surrounding the game are slated to be announced on Monday.
Big-spending sponsors only want New York: Although there are many New Jersey bars and restaurants that are close to both the MetLife Stadium and Manhattan, most sponsors will only consider the bright lights of New York City for their affairs. "We here in New Jersey are having a tough time finding sponsors," La Rosa says. "We are working hard and just hope they will look at New Jersey and realize that there is huge consumer buying power here."
Media outlets will mainly be in Manhattan: Not only is New York City the headquarters for some of the biggest media companies in the country, journalists that aren't based there will have a Manhattan venue -- the Sheraton Hotel in midtown - as their official media center base camp.
New York has myriad must-see tourist sights. "If I'm a so-called everyday fan and I get this rare opportunity to go to the Super Bowl, I'm not going to miss the opportunity to see Times Square or other touristy sights," says David Carter, executive director or the USC Marshall Sports Business Institute.
Robert Tuchman, president of sports and entertainment marketing company Goviva, is planning activities for 750 individuals coming to town for Super Bowl-related events, and says "not one person has requested to be in New Jersey."
But all hope isn't lost for New Jersey, says Steve Rosner, partner and co-founder of 16W Marketing, which is based in Rutherford, NJ. near the stadium.
Since the two teams that will play in the Big Game haven't been decided yet, there is still time for New Jersey businesses to aggressively market to folks from those areas who attend the game.
"New Jersey hotels, restaurants and catering halls will be able to make up for some of the pre-spending that has already been done in New York," he says.
Local business people "cannot be discouraged about what has transpired to date," he says. "They've got to be proactive -- rather than reactive -- in securing business once the teams are solidified."
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