The Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium is still more than two weeks away, but the transformation of the Meadowlands Sports Complex is in full swing.
The East Rutherford site was buzzing Thursday with the construction crews and equipment being used to build the 300-foot security perimeter around the stadium. The complex has already been overtaken by the seven 20,000-square-foot tents, known as "welcome pavilions," that will serve as the entrance for anyone attending the Feb. 2 game.
What's more, state officials say they've been ready to go for weeks.
"All the planning that's taken place for about two years is now at a point in time where we're beginning to execute," Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, said Thursday. "And I've said (it) all along, but I'm really confident that we're ready."
Hasenbalg and other officials involved with the effort have been vocal in recent weeks that New Jersey and New York are ready to welcome the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl in NFL history. The event has required massive coordination effort across the two states aimed at planning for concerns such as weather, security and transportation, especially for what officials have said will be "the first mass-transit Super Bowl."
Speaking at his agency's last board meeting before the game, Hasenbalg said representatives from the NFL's four remaining playoff teams arrived in New Jersey on Monday. With the two Super Bowl teams to be decided during Sunday's conference championship games, the officials were taken around the sports complex, the two Jersey City hotels that will host the clubs and the Jets and Giants practice facilities.
"Obviously whoever wins on Sunday is going to have a very short window to logistically deal with all that's going to be needed to get the teams here," Hasenbalg said. So it was important for the four teams to make the trip now.
Also Thursday, the NFL and host committee announced another official event that will take place in New Jersey ahead of the game. The so-called Super Bowl Kick Off Spectacular will officially launch the week's festivities at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, featuring performances by the Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry, and fireworks sponsored by Macy's
The free, ticketed event will be hosted by Joe Buck and Erin Andrews of Fox Sports. It's also the first time a host region will have an NFL-sanctioned kickoff event.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, who co-chairs the 2014 host committee, said in a prepared statement that this year's game "is no stranger to historic firsts," adding that the event "will be a special part of the groundbreaking theme so closely associated with this game."
It's also one of several events to be hosted in the Garden State throughout the week, topped by Super Bowl media day at the Prudential Center.
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