The NYC Metro Region may have hosted Super Bowl XLVIII three years ago, but the new Meadowlands Area YMCA is proof that its legacy will benefit the region for generations to come.
When the NFL chose the region to be the first cold-weather Super Bowl location, the economic and publicity implications from hosting the millions of visitors to the region were obvious. Equally important was the NFL’s Snowflake Foundation — an organization whose purpose is to leave a lasting legacy from the game through gifts to local charities and civic organizations, especially focusing on children.
The Meadowlands YMCA conceived of a central home — the first in its 97-year history – well before the Super Bowl in 2014, but plans for both began to take shape at about the same time. Through Snowflake, we were introduced to John Mara, President and Owner of the Giants, who immediately saw the value that a community campus would have right in view of the new MetLife Stadium. Mr. Mara and Allison Stangeby, Vice President Community & Corporate Relations NY Giants, who has been a long-time supporter of the Y, ultimately provided funding for the Mara Family Center for Early Childhood Learning, the first gift to kick off our fundraising campaign for the new facility.
The donation by Mr. Mara, The Giants and the NFL’s Snowflake Foundation symbolized so much more than the financial support, it gave credibility to our project in the eyes of leadership in the region, and encouraged other business leaders to follow suit. Could we have created a Meadowlands Area YMCA without the Super Bowl and Mr. Mara’s subsequent generosity? Maybe, but I would not like to try.
The Meadowlands Area YMCA is one of many projects and business partnerships that was born out of area leadership’s vision to host the Super Bowl in The Meadowlands. And just as our regional leaders including Jim Kirkos from the Meadowlands Regional Chamber, East Rutherford Mayor Jim Cassella and Wayne Hasenbalg, President of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority anticipated, it was a threshold moment for The Meadowlands Region serving as a catalyst for tourism, business and civic organizations around North Jersey.
As the President and CEO of Axiom Communications, a small marketing firm in Secaucus, NJ, I benefited first hand as the firm that organized the Press Conference announcing the game at Redd’s with Governor Chris Christie, and helped the Meadowlands Liberty CVB raise the perception of the region through events and other promotions that helped to familiarize the world with North Jersey. 2014 was Axiom’s best year thanks to the Super Bowl and we continue to work with most of the businesses that we connected with thanks to the game.
Sure, the region had some challenges, including transportation issues that were particularly (and famously, through my appearance before the Assembly Transportation Committee) frustrating to me; that is to be expected the first time you do anything. Overall, hosting the first cold weather Super Bowl was an enormous success and if we learned one thing, it is that the NFL should come back soon because there are plenty of Community Organizations looking for trigger moments, and other businesses that would benefit from the Super Bowl coming back to North Jersey and the NYC Metro Area.
The Y will continue to run its off-site operations in more than 50 schools, churches and other locations throughout the 30 municipalities that we served. But we also have a brand new YMCA that serves the 280,000 people in the 14 municipalities of the Meadowlands, including our hometown of East Rutherford, where we’d love a shot at another game.
Ron Simoncini, President and CEO of Axiom Communications and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the new Meadowlands Area YMCA.