EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The NFL wanted a cold-weather Super Bowl and it would have had the coldest one had the game been played at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, when temperatures were below freezing in the New York-New Jersey area.
Was it really cold though?
Will Mahoney, 53, of Paramus didn't think so, even though most area residents woke to a dusting of snow on the ground. With little or no wind, the Giants' fan left his jacket in car and walked into the Meadowlands Racetrack wearing a light Kansas City Chiefs' sweatshirt. It was a gift, and the walk was pleasant.
"I love the idea of the Super Bowl coming here," Mahoney said. "Around the league there seems to be some flak because of the weather, the cold. But you know what? I think it's great for the area. It's nice out now, but it could be 10 degrees next year. I have no problem with that either. The elements are part of the game, so if it that's the way it is, that's the way it is. "
A couple of miles away in Carlstadt, restaurant owner John 'Red' Palsi sipped a beer and looked forward to a big day, and even bigger one next year for the 48th Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2014.
"Football has always been good for us," said the 79-year-old Palsi, who turned his go-go bar into a restaurant 12 years ago. "When the Giants and Jets are here, it's always been good for us. Super Bowl, playoffs, no problem. There will be a crowd here tonight."
Roughly 1,300 miles away in New Orleans, Al Kelly wrapped up a week of work.
The chief executive and president of the organizing committee for the 2014 Super Bowl, Kelly has laid the groundwork for the first cold-weather Super Bowl and the first one to be played in a stadium that serves as the home for two teams, the Giants and Jets. The former American Express executive now has a year to make sure everything comes together.
The countdown has started on the game that many worry will return football to the old days, and whims of elements.
Meteorologist David Stark of the National Weather Service said mid-day temperatures in the area on Sunday were in the 20s and were not expected to top 30 degrees.
"For the date, that's a little below normal, but as far as being fairly cold, it's been much colder on this date in the past," Stark said.
Recent Super Bowl Sundays in New Jersey have been pleasant. Two years ago when the game was played in Dallas, temperatures at the Meadowlands were a pleasant 46 degrees. And it was 40 degrees — with no wind — a year ago when the game was in Indianapolis.
Despite the freezing temperatures on Sunday, Stark said the winds were 5 to 10 mph and calm in some area. But there was almost no wind at the Meadowlands three hours before kickoff of the title game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, who played in New Orleans.
The coldest temperature for a Super Bowl played outdoors was 39 degrees on Jan. 16, 1972 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Dallas beat Miami 24-3.
The job of getting the New York-Jersey area ready to handle all the events leading up to the game was given to Kelly a little less than two years ago.
Starting with little, he now has 29 full-time employees working in two offices in the Super Bowl organizing committee. The group is closing in on the $60 million needed to run the events surrounding the NFL title game, has signed on 12,000 volunteers and enlisted an impressive list of corporate sponsors. He still needs to enlist 6,000 volunteers and make sure all are trained.
"As a host committee, our Super Bowl is really Monday to Saturday," Kelly told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from New Orleans. "That's what we are all about. That's when the economic benefit that will come about for the local communities, the businesses and the government is going to happen with the large amount chiefly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday."
On game day next year, the only job the organizers have is to make sure the teams get to the stadium. The NFL then runs the show.
Kelly and 16 members of his team visited every Super Bowl site in New Orleans this past week, sat in on all the meetings and walked the streets to see how things were going. The goal is to be prepared for 200,000-plus people to descend on our NY-NJ area and to offer them the opportunity to have some fun, spend some money and benefit the region.
"My other hope is that with the extraordinary entertainment opportunities in the region that on Feb. 3, that Monday, people are thinking they only saw half of what they would have liked to have seen and it spurs them to make a return trip to the area," Kelly said.
Palsi, the owner of Redd's which is less than a mile from the 80,000-seat stadium, said the Super Bowl is going to bring droves people to the area, much like when the Meadowlands Racetrack opened in 1976. Nightly crowds at the track were in the tens of thousands and local businesses benefited.
Palsi was diplomatic about his favorite team.
"If I bet on the Jets, I'm a Jets' fans," he said. "If I bet on the Giants, I'm a Giants fan."
Outside the restaurant, Jim Clark of Little Ferry was taking a cigarette break. He wore his Jets' baseball cap and a Giants' shirt. He wasn't shy saying he would prefer the Jets played in the game.
"I think it will be a good turnout no matter what" the 56-year-old Clark said.
Back at the racetrack, Jeff Salerno, 56, of Franklin said most area residents wouldn't have a problem coming to watch a cold-weather game, and he felt the economic benefit would be good for the region.
"Me, I won't be nowhere near here on Super Bowl Sunday," Salerno said. "Sure it will be different. New Jersey wanted it. I'll watch it, like I am going to tonight, on TV."