NEW YORK — When her team, the Seattle Seahawks, made it to the Super Bowl, Mabel Chan knew she was going to travel to the East Coast to cheer them to victory.
"It's the Super Bowl! In New York City!" she said recently, standing in a crowded New York street a few feet from where fellow tourists screamed as they slid down a giant toboggan slide that had been erected earlier in the week.
It's not a statement that would exactly warm the cockles of the hearts of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker or the state's other politicians.
The Super Bowl is, after all, not in New York City. It is in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., roughly nine miles west of where Chan was standing.
But it's a fact that, according to Booker and others, has been lost on many tourists, commentators and maybe even the NFL.
"I'm past miffed," the Democrat said in a television interview this week. "Every time they talk about the Super Bowl, 'We'll see you in New York.' Well they're not playing in New York, they're playing in New Jersey."
New Jersey's other Democratic senator, Robert Menendez, couldn't agree more.
"The Big Apple may have Super Bowl Boulevard, but no one is going to score any touchdowns in Times Square. Richard Sherman isn't going to be screaming in anyone's face in the financial district," Menendez said at a news conference, referring to the Seahawks' star cornerback who in a live postgame interview two weeks ago famously ranted about a rival player.
Tourists could be forgiven for thinking that New York City is the focus of Super Bowl XLVIII. Broadway has been transformed into Super Bowl Boulevard from 34th Street to 47th Street in Manhattan, and people have spent hours lining up to see the Vince Lombardi Trophy, to pose in front of brightly lit Super Bowl Roman numerals, to try to kick a football through downsized goal posts and to wait in line for hours for the 60-foot toboggan.
Even the official Super Bowl brochure features the Manhattan skyline, with a glimpse of Jersey City in the background, noted Roland Muller, a Denville, N.J., resident who was in Times Square checking out the hullabaloo recently.
"We're getting dissed," he said as he watched tourists pose with Elmo and Ironman in Times Square. On the other hand, he admitted, aside from the Jersey Shore, his home state doesn't have much to entertain the masses.
"The swamp in East Rutherford is not really a tourist destination," he said.
Visit NJ, New Jersey's official tourism board, may beg to differ. In a guide for Super Bowl visitors, it detailed attractions in Jersey City, including the nation's largest IMAX theater, a indoor go-cart raceway and the state's largest outlet mall. In contrast, New York's tourism board encourages visitors to stroll through snow-covered Central Park, go skating at Rockefeller Center and then maybe explore Brooklyn.
Dan Belcher is in town from Seattle with his sister, wife, brother-in-law and some friends to see the Super Bowl. They are staying in Times Square and are planning to attend a Rangers hockey game and visit the Statue of Liberty. Are they planning to visit New Jersey?
"Well, on the day of the Super Bowl," he said. "We'll go to MetLife Stadium. But otherwise, no."
"It's New Jersey," a friend chimed in.
That visitors will have to go to New Jersey for the actual game is a fact that Gov. Chris Christie has focused on, perhaps needing a reason to be optimistic after a month of travails.
"When the game starts at 6:30 [EST] and the announcers come on, they are not going to say, 'Live from New York City,' because that would be a lie," he said, grinning at a news conference this week, at which he called New York the "wrong side" of the Hudson.
"They may show that skyline that you can see from where the game is actually being played, which is in our state, in the state of New Jersey, so we're proud to be the host of the game.
"In the end, this is about the game," Christie said. "It's not about all the other stuff. It's about the game."
But it's about "the other stuff" to a lot of visitors and many companies, including Budweiser. To much fanfare, the beer maker transformed a cruise ship from the Norwegian Cruise Line into Bud Light Hotel, and docked it at Pier 88 off Manhattan. It's home to 4,000 guests during Super Bowl weekend, who apparently prefer a hotel decked out in beer paraphernalia to one in the Garden State.
With some diligence, it was possible to find one family staying in New Jersey for the game. Jeremy Clemons, his brother, and his father, Mickey, all Denver Broncos fans, are staying at a Marriott in New Jersey.
But a few hours after they arrived in the region Thursday, they dropped off their stuff at the hotel and headed into New York to explore. After all, they admitted, they were staying in New Jersey because it was free — Mickey had cashed in some Marriott points.
. Jeremy Clemons, his brother, and his father, Mickey, all Denver Broncos fans, are staying at a Marriott in New Jersey.
But a few hours after they arrived in the region Thursday, they dropped off their stuff at the hotel and headed into New York to explore. After all, they admitted, they were staying in New Jersey because it was free — Mickey had cashed in some Marriott points.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun