NEWARK, N.J. — Football fans who think they’re coming to New York City for the Super Bowl will find plenty of activities, parties and attractions. What they won’t find is a stadium, or the actual game.
That’s because it’s being played in New Jersey, but some angry politicians say you’d never know it, judging by the promotional materials from the NFL.
New Jersey’s perceived slight by its famous neighbor began moments after the NFL announced in 2010 that the 2014 Super Bowl would be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford – about 10 miles outside of Manhattan.
But it reached a fever pitch this week when the NFL unveiled its design for the official game program and tickets – a shot of the New York City skyline – with New Jersey a small speck in the distance.
“Apparently, the NFL needs a geography lesson,” Sen. Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) said at a press conference with Sen. Cory Booker and other elected officials held to denounce the NFL’s design and reprimand players and broadcasters who refer to the Feb. 2 game as the ‘New York Super Bowl.’ Menendez also took issue with the “tiny sliver of Jersey City” visible in the program cover, adding; “You’re kidding, right?”
Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL who took pains to point out he lives in New Jersey, sent a long list of the NFL-supported Super Bowl activities happening in the Garden State. He insisted that the program and ticket design featured Jersey City, and said the Super Bowl logo prominently shows MetLife Stadium with a view toward New York City, adding that other promotional decor displayed both New York and New Jersey.
But the program design – in which Jersey City can be found if you’re looking for it – hit a nerve that was made raw almost immediately after the 2010 announcement that the nation’s first cold-weather Super Bowl would be played in New Jersey; news which was heralded on the cover of New York City’s tabloids as the ‘New York Super Bowl,’ and is repeatedly referred to by sportscasters as such.
Gov. Chris Christie chided then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s glee at the announcement, and expressed exasperation with the New York-centric coverage of the Super Bowl host city announcement.
“I look where that stadium is, and it’s New Jersey, and when everybody gets on the train or in their cars or on buses, they’re going to be coming to that game in New Jersey,” Christie said at the time.
Christie hasn’t commented on the latest flap over the NFL’s New York-centric designs, as his administration is dealing with an ongoing controversy over politically motivated lane closures in September at the George Washington Bridge that were prompted by a member of Christie’s office emailing; “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
In a nod to both controversies, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, is running a contest for readers to redesign the NFL’s program cover by offering a sample design of their own: a photo of the New Jersey Turnpike, accented by Meadowlands tumbleweeds, over the caption: “Time for some traffic problems in East Rutherford – Super Bowl XLVIII.”