NEW YORK — Keeping the Super Bowl from getting lost in the Big Apple was always going to be a challenge for event organizers.
The Super Bowl experience was alive and well Saturday night for anyone strolling down Broadway through Times Square and into the city’s fashion district. Huge television sets built by Fox Sports and ESPN served as platforms for spirited cheering showdowns between rival Seahawks and Broncos fans and meeting points for anyone wanting a taste of the NFL’s biggest week.
But a few blocks in any direction, it was business as usual. The city’s sheer size makes it easier to forget a Super Bowl was being played here than smaller sites like New Orleans or Indianapolis. That’s why the success or failure of staging the big game here was never going to be gauged by an impossible goal of citywide festive spirit — but merely the ability to keep official events running smoothly without any major incidents or disruptions.
And judging by the early reactions, the pregame week went off largely without a hitch.
“In New York, there’s always traffic, because there are just a lot of people here,” Ralph Morton, executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission, said this week while here to view how Super Bowl events were run in case of a future Seattle bid for the game. “But here, it’s very effective when you have a great cab system, which is not something you can emulate somewhere else. So that’s important when you’re going to look at how a Super Bowl went in a city like this. How smoothly did things flow? How easy was it to get to events?”
Morton said host cities must offer fans a good experience outside the game, with amenities like nearby hotels, restaurants and public gathering spots. With the 2019 Super Bowl the earliest game Seattle could host, he already was talking up Seattle Center and the Emerald City’s other strengths.
As of Sunday, there had been few snarls or serious incidents reported at any Super Bowl events or activities in New York or New Jersey. Even the weather cooperated, with weekend temperatures climbing into the 50s, far above highs in the teens earlier in the week.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed relieved that talk could finally shift toward the game itself.
“Things have gone well here in New York because of the commitment,” Goodell said. “The people who have put the bid together did a fantastic job … they have fulfilled every one of those commitments.”
The bulk of fans poured into Manhattan after the weather had already warmed, creating huge crowds in the event-staging areas. But a well-coordinated, highly visible, multiagency policing effort kept relative calm in the big-crowd situations.
By Sunday, a few hours before game time, fans were still flocking down Broadway for last-stop photo opportunities, many with their coats and mittens removed.
The warmer weather was being credited for an uptick in ticket prices tracked by SeatGeek, an online search engine.
The average resale price of a ticket had plunged by as much as 40 percent at the beginning of last week, following a series of winter storms. But then it climbed 13 percent during the week and stood at $2,060 Friday, before the warmer forecasts hit the airwaves — sending prices soaring to $3,481 right before game time.
For all the fears of a cold-weather Super Bowl, the 49-degree temperature at kickoff just missed the NFL’s previous requirement for a host city: an average of 50 degrees this time of year. That may be mostly luck, given how plummeting temperatures and possible snow were forecast for as early as Monday. But it was still enough for New York Giants co-owner John Mara to say he’d like a shot at hosting the big game again.
“Based on everything that’s happened so far, yes,” Mara said Sunday on ESPN Radio. “If we can be assured that we’d get the same cooperation from all the different government entities that were involved, which has been tremendous so far, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t consider doing it again.”