State has transportation at top of mind as Meadowlands prepares for top-flight sports events

Jessica Perry//September 13, 2012

State has transportation at top of mind as Meadowlands prepares for top-flight sports events

Jessica Perry//September 13, 2012

Officials are working to ensure the region can handle the kinds of crowds that will flock to North Jersey for the Super Bowl, Wrestlemania and F1 races.

The group appeared before business owners and stakeholders at an event hosted by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, hoping to drive home the message that hundreds of thousands of visitors will be able to navigate the area. Besides the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, events like WWE’s Wrestlemania and a Formula One race are slated to come to North Jersey as early as the spring, creating a windfall for area businesses.

Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, pointed to working groups involving some 15 government agencies that were formed to plan for the Super Bowl. Of the six groups, two are dedicated to mass transit and transportation, he said.

“For any one of these events, we have to make sure we deliver,” Hasenbalg said, citing the weather and logistics problems that plagued the Dallas-Fort Worth Super Bowl last year. “And we’re taking it real seriously and we’re working on it, really, as one of our top priorities.”

Another panelist, Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, said the Meadowlands had something of test run last month, when MetLife Stadium hosted a high-profile religious gathering of the Agudath Israel America group. The event drew some 70,000 visitors from beyond the region and required a host of interagency planning, he said, along with security that was “sort of like being at a TSA line at Newark Airport.”

“The bottom line is, we got everybody in, things went well, and it was a great learning experience for a Super Bowl or any other event,” Simpson said.

Infrastructure also was on tap at today’s monthly board meeting of the sports authority. The board approved a $450,000 project to add a third feeder line between the Meadowlands Sports Complex and the nearby PSE&G substation.

Agency officials said the upgrade will enhance the reliability of the power infrastructure in advance of the upcoming events, including a cold-weather Super Bowl, and the planned completion of the American Dream Meadowlands project at the complex. The upgrade is expected to take place early next year.

Hasenbalg also said today that developer Triple Five has submitted an application to the sports authority to add water and amusement parks to the American Dream site. The application, which was submitted Friday, asks the authority to amend its master plan for the Meadowlands Sports Complex and will now be reviewed by an agency committee.