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Chamber chief: North Jersey hotels ready for last-minute Super Bowl bookings

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It's safe to say most hotels around MetLife Stadium have been booked up for days, if not weeks, thanks to organizers of Super Bowl XLVIII and others involved with the big game.

But not every room in the Meadowlands was locked up when the official festivities began this week — and that's not necessarily a bad thing, according to one of the area's top business and tourism officials. With signs of last-minute activity popping up in the final days before kickoff, hotels and businesses in the region are equipped to handle any late flurries from visitors to the NFL's first cold-weather, outdoor championship game.

Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said local hotels have reported interest in recent days from Seattle Seahawks' and Denver Broncos' fans. While "it didn't jump after championship weekend quite the way we anticipated," he said, there's a consensus by operators that "the fans in those markets were waiting a little bit to see how the weather was playing out."

"There is daily activity, and all of our properties are inching closer to really good occupancies," Kirkos said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, forecasts called for temperatures in the high 30s and partly cloudy skies over East Rutherford.

That certainty is essential for fans before they shell out thousands of dollars for airfare, tickets and hotels that often have four-day minimum stay requirements, Kirkos said. Those requirements may have made some guests think twice to this point, he said.

Filling every hotel never seemed to be a realistic possibility. Kirkos said there are about 10,000 rooms in the greater Meadowlands area, not even counting the 90,000 suites in New York City.

But "some hotels don't mind if they don't sell out if they're getting good rates," Kirkos said. "And other hotels will try to maintain a modest, but premium rate."

Either way, he was confident in the economic benefit that the Super Bowl will bring to North Jersey. As one of the best examples, he pointed to Sally Altman, a chamber board member and sales director at the Holiday Inn in Hasbrouck Heights.

"She's had people in there for as much as 30 days for the Super Bowl," Kirkos said. "Those people have eaten in her restaurant at least two meals a day and have sat at her bar at least at the end of every night when they come back to the hotel, and her business is off the charts."

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