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Sports Authority CEO looks to Super Bowl after Wrestlemania

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Sunday’s WWE’s WrestleMania event broke the record for the highest-grossing entertainment event held at MetLife Stadium, bringing in 80,676 fans and $12.3 million. With that kind of crowd, does that mean the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is ready for the crowds that will descend on the region for the 2014 Super Bowl?

“It’s not a fair comparison because they are very different events,” said Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the NJSEA. “Each has different needs and different requirements.”

Hasenbalg said a full year of planning went into WrestleMania, and it paid off with a finely-executed event.

“All the planning proved to be well worth it,” he said. “Everything came together in a totally spectacular manner.”

While WrestleMania and the Super Bowl may be quite different, they both have events scheduled over several days in New Jersey and New York, so much more planning is needed than that of a stadium concert.

“There is security, the roadways, mass transit and the tourism impact, just to name a few,” Hasenbalg said. “You have to get people back and forth over the Hudson River, through tunnels and over bridges. We put in a pretty intense year’s work of prep for WrestleMania. We’ve already put a year in planning for the Super Bowl, so it will be two years total. That’s what it takes.”

The Super Bowl will differ from WrestleMania in that there will be very little on-site parking. Visitors, most of whom will be from out-of-state, are strongly urged to use trains or buses, and there will be no tailgating allowed before the game.

“This will be the first mass transit Super Bowl in history,” he said. Hasenbalg said the parking lot will be used for an NFL tailgate party for 10,000-12,000 sponsors and VIPs before the game. The neighboring IZOD Center will host an NFL on Location event.

“It’s going to be a very different parking lot,” he said. “A lot of people going to the games are going to be participating in parties and events throughout the day. That didn’t happen with WrestleMania.”

Hasenbalg said 15 different government agencies have been meeting to plan for next year’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.

“With that kind of effort, you can understand just how complex it is to deliver what we need to deliver,” he said.

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