(Super Bowl XLVIII is Sunday in New Jersey with two Western teams involved, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Golferswest.com’s Bob Sherwin is in New York City all week, with his NYC-based daughter Mary, to represent and provide insight as to what the fans are experiencing in this cold and captivating capital of the world).
NEW YORK – Journeyed to an untamed and formidable place Friday – New Jersey.
It’s a place where folks in New York City might call the Last Frontier. It’s also the host of Super Bowl XLVIII, in case you haven’t heard.
It may come as a shock to some that the big game this year is not in Manhattan. Everything else is, just not the game, as my old New Jersey friend’s posting (above) suggests. Madison Square Garden does not quite have the capacity. Central Park does but they probably didn’t want to chew up the softball fields.
So the NFL, in all its wisdom, decided that New Jersey, with it gleaming four-year-old soulless MetLife Stadium, in the provocative-sounding city of East Rutherford, will hold the game. The 82,500-seat facility host the league’s 48th championship, au naturale. No warm breezes of shirtsleeves allowed. Just nature’s more raw elements, cold winds, low temperatures and Jersey boys.
In the region that made the polar vortex a household name, the NFL’s two best teams, Seattle and Denver, have the additional challenge Sunday of fighting those elements for the frozen Lombardi Trophy.
The stadium was built for a sizable sum of $1.6 billion but it seems no amount of money will make its two tenants, the Giants and the Jets, change their names to the New Jersey Giants or the New Jersey Jets. Even they only come for the games.
We needed to go to Jersey – Jersey City precisely – to pick up our two tickets for the game at the Seahawks family hotel. We were fortunate enough to have secured a pair, if you are of the mind to consider one ticket costs as much as season tickets for the Seahawks. But it is the Super Bowl. It is the Seahawks. And it is Jersey.
There are several ways to get to Jersey, although most New Yorkers likely are not sure which direction. You can take the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge, although be aware of periodic inexplicable traffic jams near Fort Lee (wink, wink).
All the significant hotels are on Washington (of all places) Blvd. a mile beyond the Holland Tunnel exit. We picked up the tickets at the Seahawks family hotel, the Courtyard Marriott. The Seahawks players and staff were harbored in the Westin about 200 yards across the street while the Broncos were at the Hilton further down the boulevard.
In accepting the tickets, I had to sign a waiver form that stated, in case these tickets were lost or stolen, neither the teams nor the NFL would be responsible to replace them. Daughter Mary clutched them like white on rice and ultimately would bury them deep within a hidden reaches of her apartment.
Within minutes after picking the the tickets, we were in a cab heading back through the Holland Tunnel and into the hype. Curiously, our cab ride to Jersey was $34, including the $13 toll. Our trip back was $58, including toll, for the same distance. Hmm. Someone’s getting a nice cut.
Dodging the weather bullet
Earlier in the week, the forecast for Super Sunday was not glowing but at least better than it has been over the past two weeks. The long-range view was a high for around 37 with a low of 27, a 30 percent chance of moisture and nine mile-per-hour winds.
That has caused a plummet in the secondary ticket market because people didn’t want to sit in cold weather for four hours.
But things are changing. As we approach the kickoff in less than 48 hours, expected temperatures have increased nicely, perhaps reaching 50 degrees. And rain is not expected. That’s unexpected.
Now that could still change and with a 6:35 p.m. start, the “heat” will depart with the setting sun. It could drop below 40 at some point in the game but it appears the NFL, which had contingency plans to move the game to another date if weather interfered, caught a huge break.
Hope this doesn’t mean more open-stadium winter venues.
The improved outlook may be good news for Denver QB Peyton Manning. Manning has a career record of 4-7 in games that kicked off at 32 degrees or colder.
The colder weather, however, will still be tough on the vocal choirs of the artistic performers, such as halftime headliner Bruno Mars and the unique treat of four-time Grammy winner opera singer Renee Fleming singing the national anthem.
According to an Accuweather post, cold air forecast could induce larynx, or voice box, problems due to the muscularity of the organ. A simply remedy could be just a scarf around her neck. Las Vegas oddsmakers, no doubt, could post odds on whether she will scarf it and what color it might be.
The milder weather Friday helped pack the 13-block NFL Experience around Times Square. Sidewalks were packed on both sides of the street and there were more than two-hour waits to ride the toboggan run as well as those folks waiting to take a picture of the Lombardi Trophy. Two hours for a 10-second photo of a silver football.
News from around the world wide web
Here’s are some various Super Bowl related items gleamed from a variety of sources:
— If you need surgery at one of the New York hospitals, the best time perhaps all year is during the game.
— There has been a significant jump in prostitution arrests during this week, according to the New York Times.
— Federal authorities have broken a counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise ring with 202,000 articles valued at $21.6 million. There’s also separate investigation into the Giants amid allegations that the club has been falsifying merchandise.
— There will be no tailgating at the Meadowlands parking lots. Not allowed. In fact, it’s going to be hard to get permission to park a car there since most of the fans are encouraged to ride the buses or train to the game. That’s quite un-American. Some parking spots are still available – for $150 each.
— The NFL is getting a $8 million tax break from the state of New Jersey for its original commitment to host the event. The state will not collect taxes from ticket sales, parking fees or sales tax. In return, the NFL has invested $5 million in promotions. No doubt much of that investment is across the Hudson in midtown Manhattan.
— Central Bar on West Ninth St. and Carlow East on upper east side are the two Seahawks bar in the city. In fairness, the Broncos also have a pair, Keats Bar in Midtown and Butterfield8 on West 38th St. Thankfully, they are not near each other.
— Each fan attending the game will receive a “warming gift.” It includes a seat cushion, muffler, ski gaiters, three pairs of hand and foot warmers, lip balm and tissues.
— Odd odds: Over/under on how long Renee Fleming will sing the National Anthem is at 2:30; Will Knowshon Moreno cry during it? 4-1 odds; 25-1 the power will go out at MetLife; Peyton Manning has 6-5 odds to win the MVP, by far the best odds.
Tour of the day
Courtesy of our NYC-based guide, Mary Sherwin, the aspiring dancer-daughter, we made our way in the morning to the meat-packing district, which is a contradiction in terms. It sounds rather unglamorous but it’s actually one of city’s more fashionable districts. If the Kardashians are a measure of fashion or culture – which is what we’ve come to in America – this is where they stay when visiting the city.
It’s in lower Manhattan below 20th Street. Lot’s a beautiful people, although hard to see under layers of warm scarfs and wool hats.
We ate breakfast at a wonderful French restaurant called Pastis. Dozens of ceiling fans, molded tin ceiling, rich wood booths. Classy place and high-level food – and prices.
A block away is the Chelsea Market, opened in 1997. It’s a block-long indoor assortment of unique restaurants and boutique shops. Exit out the west end and you arrive at one of the city’s hidden treasures. It’s the High Line walk. This is an one-mile elevated walkway that has been converted from a spur of the New York Central Railroad. It’s extremely popular and valued by the locals. You get a great view of the city below and above. You can even see Jersey from there.
In the afternoon, Mary sought out a little more stylish venture. We took the subway to Columbus Circle then took a walk into snowy Central Park. I’ve never see the area with a snow coat. It provided a interesting contrast to all the steel and mortar buildings that surrounded the park.
We made our way to the fabulous and famous Plaza Hotel, where $600 will get you a room with a broom and not much more. You need to step up your game here.
One suggestion is the food court in the basement. Ask for the lobster sandwich. You won’t be disappointed.
We then rested for a half hour with champagne in a deep-seated chairs in the elegant Plaza lobby. Just to my right was fashion designer Vera Wang. Mary said it wasn’t. But I don’t know. The fact that Wang is an American of Chinese descent and this woman was speaking Japanese did not alter my opinion.
Then we had a stroll down Fifth Avenue. Rockefeller Center. NBC. Skating rink. Then over to Radio City Music Hall and down to Times Square where the NFL experience was churning.
We purchased half priced tickets to see the play Motown, the Musical, which was sensational. The lead actor, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Barry Gordy, was absolutely charismatic. Great voice. Diana Ross’s character Krystal Joy Brown, was enormously talented and looked much like the original.
Whatever you do, don’t leave at intermission. The second act was pulsating, particularly Raymond Luke, Jr., who plays young Michael Jackson. You can not tell the difference.
By 11:30 p.m. we were at Totto Ramen on West 52nd St., between 8th and 9th Avenues, for a slurpy big bowl of noodles. New York is hard to replicate.