Super Bowl turns spotlight on New Jersey

View of MetLife Stadium at Sunset before the game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings  at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images
View of MetLife Stadium at Sunset before the game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images

When New Jersey steps into the spotlight next month to host its first Super Bowl, it hopes to alter its international reputation beyond stereotypes from TV shows such as mob drama “The Sopranos” and the vapid 20-somethings of “Jersey Shore.”

One problem for the state, which has long lived in the shadow of its superstar neighbor New York, is that the new MetLife Stadium, site of the February 2 National Football League championship game, is in an industrial area that belies New Jersey’s designation as “The Garden State.”

Officials in East Rutherford, some 10 miles west of New York City, will roll out the red carpet for an expected 400,000 visitors, with economic activity forecast at $500 million.

“New Jersey has been fighting a negative stereotype for a long, long time,” said Michael Rockland, a professor of New Jersey history at Rutgers University. It “was kind of the national joke there for a while, with a reputation for corruption, being called the armpit of America.”

New Jersey is a state of contrasts. Home to the largest number of Superfund toxic waste sites in the country, it also takes pride in 120 miles of shoreline – some of which is still recovering from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 – and about 15 percent of its land is freshwater wetlands.

The state was at the forefront of the 19th century American industrial revolution, and its major cities remain dotted with long-abandoned warehouses and smokestacks.

It is home as well to some of America’s wealthiest communities, including the borough of Alpine, with a median home price of $4.5 million, the most expensive in the country, real estate experts say.

Many of the residents who live in New Jersey’s toniest areas commute to New York City for work, and the state has been seen as an annex of its more famous neighbor. In fact, two sports teams that call MetLife Stadium home are, in name, from New York – the Giants and Jets.

East Rutherford, where the new stadium was completed in 2010, might not put the state’s best face forward.

“People coming to New Jersey for the Super Bowl are basically seeing the ugliest part of the state,” Rockland said.

SPRUCING UP THE AREA

One of the first orders of business is to ready the 82,500-seat stadium for the game, with thousands of workers upgrading security, building a new broadcast center and creating decorations for the two competing teams, the NFL said.

With an expected attendance of nearly a half million, local officials have spent months making preparations to handle crowds moving between New York City and the stadium area.

“Every Super Bowl is different,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “The stadiums for the last two Super Bowls, New Orleans and Indianapolis, were in a downtown city setting. But previous Super Bowls were held in somewhat similar situations as this year.”

As the stadium undergoes its facelift, officials are also sprucing up the surrounding area, long dominated by a megamall that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie once called “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.”

The American Dream project, formerly called Xanadu, stands out with its blue, white and orange rectangular facade, evoking the towers of shipping containers at New Jersey’s cargo ports.

Dogged for a decade by funding problems, it will remain vacant on game day although Christie has supported its completion, saying it will bring thousands of jobs.

“It’s going to be an embarrassment,” said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, which promotes environmental conservation. “Everyone who shows up for the Super Bowl from all over the world is going to look at that thing, scratch their heads and try to figure out what it is.”

“American Dream is under construction,” said Alan Marcus, a mall project spokesman who called the criticism “absolutely unfair.”

New Jersey tourism officials said they are ready for the influx of visitors, emphasizing that the state “has plenty to offer, from historic sites and national parks to world-class entertainment, resorts and gaming in Atlantic City.”

But however much they polish it up, the area around the stadium will still remind visitors of New Jersey’s industrial heritage, said Rutgers’ Rockland.

“We aren’t the Garden State,” he said. “We might have been during the 19th Century but we then became one of the most industrial states in the whole country. The Garden State idea is a total misnomer.”

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Gossip

Chris Martin dishes on 'conscious uncoupling' with Gwyneth…

"The thing we told everyone at the beginning of the year is true," says Chris Martin about Gwyneth Paltrow. "We are very close. We are not together."

Television

'Game of Thrones' livens up Comic Con with…

By Piya Sinha-RoySAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the…

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Sports

Kevin Love becomes third NBA player to pull…

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves became the third NBA player to withdraw from consideration for Team USA in next month's World Cup, USA Basketball.

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.