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Host committee chief wants businesses ready as Super Bowl nears

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Next year's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium has been widely touted as a game of firsts —the first cold-weather game and the first hosted by two teams and two states. And last week, the event's top planner touted what will be another key difference from other years.

Alfred Kelly Jr.

"We've got to make sure that every entertainment venue is programmed and is rocking, that every restaurant is fully staffed and is ready to handle the crowds … because this is not going to be your go-to-the-beach, play-golf Super Bowl," said Alfred Kelly Jr., head of the game's host committee. "That's not what's going to happen here."

Kelly and other organizers have sought to spread that message across the region, but he spoke directly to business leaders Friday at the United Way of Northern New Jersey's annual Commercial Real Estate Legacy Luncheon and fundraiser. That meant about 400 professionals in real estate and other sectors got a firsthand preview of the estimated $600 million economic impact that will come from Super Bowl week.

Kelly called the Feb. 2 game "an incredible opportunity, both in the short and the long term," with the immediate gain being the economic benefit. In the long term, he said, "putting this state on the global stage, and showing them what we can do … hopefully will be a message to every event organizer and anybody thinking about doing something."

When one attendee asked how much tickets would cost, Kelly said prices would be set in September or October, adding that he expected them to rise from previous ranges of $850 to $1,250. He also said the host committee controls about 5,000 tickets that it has to buy from the NFL, "and it's actually a big hole in my budget, figuring out what it is."

The former American Express executive spoke to attendees gathered in Parsippany for the annual fundraiser, which helps the United Way support infrastructure needs for local nonprofits. This year's event raised about $155,000, organizers said.

Also at the event, the United Way presented its annual Impact Award for Bayer HealthCare's East Coast U.S. headquarters project, in Hanover, where the company will consolidate offices from three states to a once-vacant 94-acre site.

During a 20-minute presentation before the awards ceremony, Kelly recapped many of the logistical challenges of the game, noting that MetLife Stadium will lose about a third of its parking spaces in order to widen the security fence around it. He estimated the stadium would lose some 5,000 of its seats to accommodate the swarm of media covering the game.

Kelly also noted that the game's ancillary activities, several of which will be held in New Jersey, will cause the Super Bowl week to draw more than double the amount of visitors that could fit in the stadium. That's means that "Monday to Saturday is our Super Bowl. That's when the economic value is going to really occur."

"It's just … an event in the world that everybody wants to feel a part of, whether they can get a ticket or have a ticket," Kelly said. "Many people just come to town never even looking for a ticket. They're not coming thinking of getting a ticket, or they're actually coming knowing they won't get a ticket, but they want to be part of the action."

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