The Super Bowl has come to New York and New Jersey, and it's brought with it a lot of extra surveillance, lawsuits, disgustingly lavish parties, grumblings from elected officials, and even sex trafficking.
The Super Bowl trophies look really nice; it's a shame about all the sex trafficking that comes with the NFL championship game. Photo via Flickr user LearningLark
The Super Bowl is a long, exceptionally polished television advertisement for the corporate state we live under that's watched by over 100 million people. It ostensibly exists because of a football game, but the annual event has grown over the years into a kind of modern variety show that features singing and dancing during the halftime show, comedy sketches during the commercials, and gruesome blood sport during the actual game. America!
That’s the way most people experience the Super Bowl—as something that, like the Academy Awards and war, happens on TV. But the big game is also a kind of traveling circus, only instead of clowns and acrobats, the people arriving in New Jersey and New York are tourists, security experts, the 1-percenter oligarchs who can afford the ridiculous prices for luxury suites at MetLife Stadium, and actual sex slavers. The big game provides an awesome—in the old sense of “inspiring awe”—spectacle, but for anyone who has to deal with its mundane on-the-ground aspects, it’s a nightmare of greed, lies, and broken promises.
It's Very Cold in New Jersey
Snowy football games look dramatic on TV, but a sudden storm could force the NFL to change Super Bowl Sunday to a Monday. Photo via Flickr user Karyn Christner
The most obvious problem with the 2014 Super Bowl is that it's a football game being played outdoors in New Jersey in early February. Fortunately, though it will be very, very cold, it probably won’t snow—but an unexpected storm could force Super Bowl Sunday to be on Saturday, or Monday, or some other day of the week, which would presumably be a disaster for advertisers, ticketholders, and anyone else financially tied to the game. That’s why in past years the NFL has decided to hold the event in a southern town like New Orleans or Miami, or in a city that has a domed stadium. That’s not to say the NFL is unprepared—a league official told Newsday, a local paper, that “crews at the stadium will be ready to move snow in the parking lots, seating areas, and on the field and on our vitally important roadways… We will be prepared to move snow quickly,” but contingency plans wouldn’t be necessary if the game was being held in a warm-weather city that people actually want to visit in the winter.
People Are Suing Over Unpaid Bills and Ticket Prices
Another hassle that could have easily been avoided is a lawsuit filed against MetLife Stadium’s operators by Taylor Turf, the company that installed the field’s playing surface last summer. The artificial grass was put in in only 11 days, a process that normally takes twice as long, according to Taylor Turf’s owner, and the company is still owed $292,000 for the rush job. While that gets worked out, the NFL has it’s own legal problem—a New Jersey lawyer has sued the NFL, alleging that only 1 percent of 77,500 Super Bowl tickets are sold to the public at face value, which is in violation of state laws that say 5 percent of tickets for any event be sold at face value.
Fans Will Be Monitored by Police at All Times
The execs who run the league aren’t worried about the weather or small-fry lawsuits, of course. They’re much more worried about a terrorist attack. As a result, the already extremely security-conscious NYC metropolitan area has gotten even more paranoid than usual, installing 200 additional temporary security cameras around Times Square. Fans roaming the streets of Manhattan, miles away from where the game is to be held, will constantly be under surveillance—according to the Associated Press, “Hazmat and bomb squads will be on standby. Other officers will patrol with bomb-sniffing dogs. Still more will watch from rooftops and from police helicopters.”
And They Won't Be Able to Tailgate
This parking lot will become a tiny police state when the Super Bowl comes to town. Photo via Flickr user Gabriel Argudo Jr
The security presence will be even more overwhelming at MetLife on the big day. Hundreds of New Jersey state troopers will be on hand, along with 3,000 private security guards hired by the NFL. Fans aren’t going to be allowed to walk to the game or get dropped off outside the stadium grounds, and neither will they be allowed to travel to MetLife via taxi, limo, or any car without a parking pass. More crucially, they won’t even be allowed to tailgate—a traditional pregame pastime beloved by generations of fans. If Seahawks or Broncos supporters want to celebrate their team’s ascension to the top of the NFL by drinking and grilling meat and tossing a ball around, they’ll have to do it in their vehicles.
“You will be allowed to have food in your car and have drink in your car,” the CEO of the Super Bowl organizing committee told the media. “And provided you’re in the boundaries of a single parking space, you’ll be able to eat or drink right next to your car. However, you’re not going to be able to take out a lounge chair, you’re not going to be able to take out a grill, and you’re not going to be able to take up more than one parking space. And it’ll all be watched very carefully.”
That’s a pretty crappy set of rules to deal with if you’re a fan who’s paid over $1,000 for a ticket, plus a minimum of $150 for a parking pass, plus whatever it cost to get all the way to New Jersey. And the reason there’s not enough space to tailgate, by the way, is that there’s a 300-foot security perimeter around the stadium, which shrinks the number of parking spots from the usual 28,500 to less than 13,000.
The NFL Lies About How Much Money It Brings to Local Businesses
The payoff for all these headaches and all these security measures is the $500 or $600 million that New York and New Jersey will get in extra consuming spending from all those tourists who come to town. Ha! That was a little bit of Super Bowl economics humor—though the NFL likes to throw big numbers like that around, experts who have studied the impact of the Super Bowl on local businesses say that the event actually brings in, at best, only about $50 or $60 million in increased economic activity. Visitors coming to town for the football spend more at NFL-sponsored shops and events rather than local establishments, so the money doesn’t get funneled into the area’s economy. What's worse, the shitstorm of activity might dissuade those who would normally visit New York—Broadway producers have complained to Variety that the Super Bowl Boulevard street fair in Midtown Manhattan will cause visitors to avoid the theaters in the area and hurt box office revenues.
And the League Has Treated New Jersey Like Crap
As far as the NFL is concerned, East Rutherford is basically just a road that leads to a stadium. Photo via Flickr user Doug Kerr
The event also creates lots of hassles for those who should be reaping the benefits of the big game. Bars, restaurants, and towns that want to throw Super Bowl–themed parties can’t use the words Super Bowl to promote their events, since the NFL owns the trademark on that phrase and has a history of making sure that no one else is cashing in on it. Scores of local governmental agencies have been enlisted to help with all the nitty-gritty organizing that a Super Bowl entails, but some who have been involved in the process feel disrespected by the NFL.
“New Jersey isn’t getting the respect it should,” James Cassella, the mayor of East Rutherford, home of MetLife Stadium, told NJ Spotlight, a local news website. Cassella complained that the league didn’t provide promised promotional banners advertising the game to the area; more broadly, he says NFL officials are a pain to deal with:
“According to Cassella, the NFL takes a dour attitude toward sharing any of the public cost burden to stage what the league calls the biggest single-day event in the world: ‘We don’t give you any money,’ he mimicked. ‘You should be honored the games are here.’”
The mayor has reason to be pissed—his town is technically hosting the Super Bowl, meaning it has to deal with some of the infrastructure-straining difficulties of a major event, but it isn’t built to get a comparable payday. As the below charming local-news video shows, East Rutherford business owners feel like the NFL hasn’t promoted the town at all. “The game gonna be right here, but the parties are going to be in New York City,” said one resident.
Lavish Super Bowl Parties Are the Stuff of Nightmares
Those New York City parties are where you find people who are actually going to profit off the game. The beneficiaries of the presence of boozed-up out-of-towners with too much money in their pockets are, for the most part, providers of sleazy luxury. Though there are some reasonably priced local Super Bowl parties, there’s also decadent, decline-of-Rome style bashes—like the one sponsored by Shape and Men’s Fitness, which will be emceed by Jeffrey Ross, feature Mary J. Blige, and cost $1,500 to get into, and the supermodel-studded Leather & Laces party, tickets for which will set you back at least $950. Those who wish to flaunt their wealth in even more disgustingly extravagant ways can always avail themselves of the Chatwal Hotel’s “World’s Most Expensive Tailgate,” where guests can drink 64-year-old Scotch and watch the game on a television that is—seriously—coated in gold and diamonds while presumably trading anecdotes about Swiss bank accounts and how to wash the blood of Third World orphans off of ostrich-leather seats in one’s private plane.
The Super Bowl Is also the Super Bowl of Human Trafficking
The more down-to-earth Super Bowl tourists will, of course, be going to strip clubs, which have been preparing for a deluge of visitors—one fine establishment has just invested in the world’s tallest stripper pole. TMZ was all over this beat, of course:
“We spoke to several Big Apple strip joints... and they all said the same thing—you can't have enough women in the clubs that weekend, 'cause with all the ballers coming to town, it's going to be INSANE.
In fact, a rep for Scores—Howard Stern's favorite joint—tells us they're not just bringing in talent from across the country... they're flying in a bunch of chicks from Russia who've BEGGED for the chance to shake their asses for the richest pervs in America.”
Hell yeah bro, hot Russian strippers! The downside to watching the chicks who’ve been flown in to shake their asses is being aware that with the Super Bowl comes a wave of human trafficking. A recent Washington Post article said that officials are “warning the public to watch for people who are forced into labor and individual pimps exerting control over young women and men who are oftentimes underage,” and quoted an anti-trafficking advocate named Danielle Douglas as saying that some tourists “are coming to the Super Bowl not even to watch football—they are coming to the Super Bowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children.”
The upside of all of this is that if you aren’t one of those awful sex slave–buying pieces of human filth, and if you have managed to buy a ticket to the game at a semi-reasonable price, and if you aren’t involved with a local government agency or business that is annoyed by the NFL’s Super Bowl policies, and if the game isn’t postponed due to a sudden snowstorm, you’ll have a terrific football game to look forward to. Hopefully, not too many of the players end up with long-term brain damage.