Jet Press Exclusive: Interview with the Head of the Super Bowl 48 Host Committee


Ever wonder what it takes to put on an event as big as the Super Bowl, in a region as big as the New York Tri-state area?  Well find out here, thanks to staff writer Debbie Schechter.

With the month of February coming to a close, we have a chance to look back on the biggest sporting event to hit the tri-state area in years — Super Bowl 48.

I had the good fortune to sit down with Mr. Alfred F. Kelly Jr., who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the NY/NJ Super Bowl 48 host committee at the WVOX studios in New Rochelle NY.

Here’s a look at the man’s bio courtesy of the Super Bowl 48 host committee site: Alfred F. Kelly Jr.

Back in May of 2010, when the New York/New Jersey region was awarded Super Bowl 48, Kelly Jr. was brought hired by the Johnson family as well as the Mara/Tisch families.

“They were trying to figure out where do they go from here,” Kelly Jr said. “They decided they needed a local executive to run the whole thing. They hired a search firm who came to me a couple of times. I didn’t know a job like this existed and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. Ultimately it was John Tisch (Giants co-owner) convinced me to come talk to all of them.

“We almost instantaneously had a common view of how great this could be for the region. We had some great chemistry amongst us. I thought it would be a fun way to spend three years.”

As a guy who was originally from the Yonkers area and currently residing in Harrison, he knew having the game here would be a great thing for the region.

“I’ve worked in Manhattan, I’ve spent time in New Jersey, grew up in Westchester,” Kelly Jr said. “The fact that it was America’s greatest game played in this region certainly was a wonderful opportunity.”

Tisch and Jets general manager Woody Johnson were the co-chair of the Super Bowl Host Committee.

“Those two gentlemen were involved the whole way,” Kelly Jr. said. “As we got closer to the game, John Mara and Steve Tisch played roles and were involved with different things. Woody Johnson and John Tisch were extraordinarily active and were a real pleasure to work with.”

Looking back, one of the biggest challenges bringing the Super Bowl to New York and New Jersey was just that — dealing with the vastness of the region.

“Everyone from Greenwich, CT to Princeton, NJ wanted to feel like they were apart of this,” Kelly Jr. said. “Not a lot of local people would be able to get tickets for the game so the question was how do we get everyone to feel like they are apart of this? To make them feel excited that the Super Bowl was coming.”

“Somehow in one of the brainstorming sessions we talked about the old Good Humor truck that would come to the field ring it’s bell and all the kids would come running.”

And that idea led to the “Join the Huddle Tour” which brought a piece of the NFL all across the tri-state area starting from the beginning of the 2013 season in September. It was something Kelly Jr and the committee were pleased with.

“It had never been done before,” Kelly Jr said. “We fabricated a tractor-trailer truck and we had it make 55 stops on both sides of the Hudson. When the tour stopped in an area, it opened up to a 60 x 80 experience with 12 different ways people could interact. We had interactive games, there were exhibitions — we had an authentic Eli Manning locker, a Curtis Martin locker, a Vince Lombardi locker. We had the Vince Lombardi trophy that went on to be awarded to the Seattle Seahawks.”

To accommodate all the other stuff, there were four other box trucks involved in the tour.

By the numbers, there were over 250,000 people participating in all 55 stops and covered 2,700 miles. We had well over one million impressions from the Join the Huddle Shuttle.

The other major piece Kelly Jr. had a hand in was Super Bowl Boulevard.

Say what you want about the problems of Super Bowl Boulevard with the overcrowding — the goal of closing that section of Broadway from Herald Square to Times Square, 34th to 47th street (which has never been done before) was to draw people into the city and it did just that.

“We believe somewhere in the neighborhood of one and a half million people came over the course of the four days to Super Bowl Boulevard,” Kelly Jr. said. “It was for kids of all ages.”

Also, Kelly Jr did confirm that if the snowstorm which hit the following Monday had hit the day of the game, there were contingency plans in place that could’ve moved the game up as early as that Friday and as late as Tuesday the 4th.

However, Kelly Jr was worried about the weather on Wednesday — the day Super Bowl Boulevard opened.

“We didn’t want to see it when people were coming into town,” Kelly Jr. said. “And not get the economic benefit of it. We wanted to make sure people were able to arrive, having tens of thousands of people from out-of-town stay in our city and in New Jersey, spend money on food, drink, entertainment, and on taxis.”

It didn’t hurt the city that five of the major teams decided to stick around town to help capitalize on the allure that is New York City.

We are now just about one month post of the game, the lasting affects of having the biggest football game in the tri-state area are being felt. In partnership with Morgan Stanley, there’s a new park in White Plains.

Kelly Jr., looking back, was pleased with the way everything went.

“There’s probably little things but the big events, the big initiatives all were things we were very pleased with,” Kelly Jr. said. “I have no big regrets about anything.”

So the natural question, Will the NFL ever give this region or a cold weather city another Super Bowl? Kelly Jr. believes another cold weather city won’t host it but don’t count out the tri-state area.

“I do think it will come back here but it’s not up to me,” Kelly Jr. said. “I think this is a unique marketplace. I would like to see it come back but I don’t think it will be in the circuit like the warm weather cities. The circumstance was unique with two teams and a new stadium. ”