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Torch Passed To Lower Class of Jets Tailgating

This past Sunday I went to my first Jets tailgate of the season.  Not game, tailgate.  I have not attended a game in the new MetLife Stadium.  Have had no desire to lay anything out to watch a team make their fans invest and suffer more than a Facebook stockholder.

Now I may not have the experience and knowledge to go in depth about some problems the team has on the field I can sure talk about off field happenings.  Especially when it comes to tailgating.

For the first time I paid to be in a stadium lot rather than walk over from the Sheraton.  We did have to walk over from the Izod using the cattle bridge but at least we were among the Jets tailgating faithful.  While making the trek from the Izod to the J & L yellow parking section,s I noticed a few things that made my heart sank as a Jets fan and tailgating analyst (made up title, I know).

The fisrt thing that was not just obvious, but rampant was the garbage left in the lots after tailgating.  I am not talking about after the game, I am talking about after tailgating leading into kick off.  It was disgusting.  Empty bottles strewn, half filled garbage bags left to collapse, and half eaten food noticeably in the lane of traffic.

One tailgate in L5 even left their entire set up available to all.  Not just some sandwiches left on the table, but an open van, DJ equipment, speakers, a popcorn machine,  and more just left unattended as if to say “take me”.

Now there was a tailgate across from the unattended one that was watching the game from their tailgate.  But it is not their responsibility to watch over another tailgates gear.  Either clean up or do not set up.
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Now I know a good portion of the port-a-potty’s have been taken away, that does not mean one should relieve themselves in the parking lot between cars.  Have more class than that.  Either use a port-a-john or head to the weeds/brush.  You make yourself and others around you look classless.

When the PSL’s were first offered, a large fall off of season ticket holders did not carry over to MetLife Stadium.  Many of these ticket holders could trace their ticket roots to the Polo Grounds or Shea Stadium.  A wave of younger, more active, social conscious tailgater came to the forefront.

A few of the tailgates we passed seemed to keep partying going from the night before in Hoboken.  Complete with music pushed to eleven and dancing.  Now I can understand loud music to get ready for a game.  Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, AC/DC,  and other music like that.  I just can’t see club music as the style to motivate warriors.

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L7 sets up fast and cleans up faster

My wife en pointed out one or two that couldn’t hold it together.  One guy couldn’t be considerate and hold a girls hair so she does not get vomit on it.  Not a true gentleman.  Tailgating before a game should not have to get to that point.
No one is saying to not crank it up and have a blast.  Just do it in a way that does not draw unwanted attention to yourself & your friends.  The Jets have a proud tradition of loyalty from their fans.  Many still remember the days of the Titans at the Polo Grounds.

Tailgating has been about a ritual of great food, friends, and brew to drive us crazy for an upcoming battle.  If it was meant to bring the club to the parking lot complete with annoying music, binge drinking, & certain fans who really seem to be there for the party and not for the game, then the winds of change barely made a faint wisp.

One was able to notice a change in the tailgating climate once Giants Stadium fell.  Many that I knew and had been to for my documentary did not make the change.  Their tickets or seats purchased by a younger ticket holder.  The new element that has taken over the transition of tailgating in the color coded lots.

The socially connected fan who remains wired, in network, ,or addicted to wi-fi in any situation.  Tweeting by the minute or Instagraming a picture, booty shaking on the trailer.  I can remember when tailgating was about tailgating.

Go, have a great time, make some new friends, and feast away.  Just act accordingly and don’t give a reason to bring forth unwanted attention to you and others around you.  Personally, why would one want to give other fans a reason to speak worse about them than they already do.

Tomorrow night the Jets take on the 4-0 Houston TexansMonday Night Football games are in prime-time and so are the ans.  Have a tailgate that makes the SportsCenter Top 10, not the Not Top 10.  Even though some of that stuff is funny.  Have others laugh with you, not at you.  Now that’s memorable.

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Jets Tailgating Takes Flight Before Any Kick Off

Smell that?

Don’t get closer to your screen, what the hell is that going to do?

But there is a certain aroma, slowly being pulled in all directions by the passing winds.  If you concentrate hard enough, focus your senses, and tune in your palate you might be able to solve the quandary of what that is making you salivate more than a bulldog with a t bone steak.

DSC06894It is called opening day tailgating.  The central focus for many Jets fans hours before the opening kick off.  Some can sense the anticipation in the air and draw their energy from it for the day.

For some, adrenaline is what keeps them going from the moment they load their car until they get home.  Many draw their energy from their friends and other fans tailgating around them.  For the rest, they get it from 5 Hour Energy.

Anticipation builds each day like an internal fire.  It grows and grows until there is no containing it anymore.  At some point, opening day has to come to release the energy that has been building for weeks.  Energy that not only creates a spectacle for tailgating, but to assist the Jets from the stands towards a victory.

From burgers to brauts, steak to shrimp, and beer to…..beer, Jets fans can not wait until Sunday.  Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media application and some currently in development are being jammed with Jets fans eager to get the season started.

DSC07183Some tailgating groups use social media to not just set up their tailgate but to attract new tailgaters to their pack.  The L7 Tailgate was founded on Twitter and continues to grow with new members who only meet eight times a year.  More if there will ever be a home playoff.

Many from L7 meet in the off season and tweet on to be great friends.  It shows that distance and eight games will not stop those who feel the need to have that tailgate feeling all year.

I have walked from one end of the stadium parking to the other.  I even ventured over Route 120 and still made it back to the L5 tailgate in time for kick off.  Iver that distance, I have sampled my fair share of tailgating cuisine, Blacktop BBQ, and assorted Jets themed drinks.

DSC07192That first game of the season has a certain feel to it.  Fans wait over eight months to come out of hibernation and seek out pigskin glory.  Take this two ways.  Glory for the team winning on the field and having winning flavorful, tender ribs off the field.

The excitement for the battle in the stadium builds throughout tailgating.  The tension is so thick one can cut it with a Jets flag.  Random J-E-T-S chants, whistles, and all sorts of inspirational celebrating is done to help inspire the 13th man.

We gather like warriors, celebrating our bravest who fight for their faithful followers on the gridiron.  We rejoice with plenty of meat, brew, and pride before watching our green and white gladiators battle before our eyes.  Praying they return to us with a victory.

Every Jets fan feels that excitement.  That this year will be different from the last.  That not only will Gang Green return to the AFC Championship, but to the Super Bowl this time.  Opening day tailgating bring about that excitement more than any other home game.

DSC06932Tailgating is about friends and family.  It gives us time to see those we do not normally see.  To share stories of battles gone by to younger generations.  We bring new members into the circle to spread the word on how damn great our tailgate is.  These are the moments we cherish because it makes us smile in a way only those in attendance can understand.

Every man who can flip a burger or time a steak right has another moment to prove they are the Baron of BBQ, the General of grilling, or the culinary charcoal genius that makes everyone salivate when they see you preparing the days feast.  But behind every great man is a woman muttering under her breath so faint only the grill man can hear.

Laugh or roll your eyes all you want men, we know it to be true.  Doesn’t mean  we listen, but it is true.

So as you prepare to make whatever trek you have to take to get the the Meadowlands, keep the faith.  As tomorrow only starts the first of eight battles on our home turf.  Have the strength to tailgate on even n the face of a losing season.

That is what makes true Jet fans have the best stories to tell to the ones we plan on leaving our season tickets to.

New York Jets & Their Fans In Giants Shadow Once Again

Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the New York Jets organization were likely turned off by the New York Giants celebrations.   The Jets always take a backseat to the Giants, and Tuesday they watched the Giants roar through Manhattan and return back to MetLife Stadium to continue the celebration.

Approximately 35,000  Giants fans welcomed home to MetLife Stadium their new Super Bowl Champions.  The crowd boomed as the Giants came through the tunnel and onto the field, and as they did, Justin Tuck took a moment to soak in the color. Everywhere he looked, in this stadium that two teams call home, all he could see was blue.

“Last time we did this it was in Giants Stadium,” Tuck said, as he stood on a stage at midfield, behind the Lombardi trophy. “Now we’re in MetLife Stadium.  “But one thing you can be sure of is whose house this is.”  The whole scene made it seem even more crazy to Giants co-owner Steve Tisch that people once thought New York would soon belong to the Jets.

With those words, the Giants put to rest once and for all the question of who really owns New York — a question that dominated the conversation when the 2011 season began. The entire city has been painted blue since the Giants beat the Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night, from the Empire State Building to the Canyon of Heroes, all the way to City Hall.

President and CEO of the Giants, John Mara, spoke at the ceremony at MetLife stadium Tuesday afternoon. He said, “there’s no place like home.”  Justin Tuck ended his speech saying, “One thing you can be sure of is whose house it is.”

Woody Johnson and the Jets might have been sick when they heard these comments.  It is the last thing the Jets franchise wanted to hear.  MetLife Stadium was supposed to be their home as well, and they had to watch the Giants christen the stadium with the first championship in the new building.

If the Giants had any lingering doubts about fan support, they were erased when the Giants’ parade of buses came off the New Jersey Turnpike and drove through a parking lot full of tailgaters at the Meadowlands. It’s a sight Giants co-owner John Mara has seen often since his team began playing here in 1976.  A sight Jets fans are not used.  Being able to tailgate before a rally.

In some ways, seeing it on Tuesday afternoon meant even more to Mara than the parade.  “We just had an incredible experience going through the Canyon of Heroes,” Mara told the crowd. “But I have to tell you, when you pull into the stadium and see all these fans here, you know there’s no place like home.”

Justin Tuck giving fans a chance with the Lombardi Trophy

“To see this kind of fan support when you come out here, it’s hard to put into words,” an emotional Mara added after the ceremony was over. “The whole day is unbelievable. To watch these players come back here to our home (MetLife Stadium) and see this kind of enthusiasm is really the icing on the cake.”

The crowd went crazy when Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning carried the Lombardi Trophy into the stadium, and then Tuck carried it up onto the stage. They all intensely watched their own highlight video on the four scoreboards, before Tom Coughlin thanked them for their unwavering support.

The Jets organization and their fans looked forward to giving the new stadium its first championship.  Mark Sanchez would have carried the Lombardi trophy instead of Eli Manning.  Now, MetLife stadium will be know as the home of the 2012 Super Bowl Champion Giants.  Jet fans will see that distinction every time they visit MetLife Stadium.  There may not be a banner or mural, but it will be emblazoned in their minds.  Jet fans wanted to upstage their “big brother” and show they are one of the NFL’s eite

The Jets started the Giants’ championship run after a Christmas Eve embarrassment. The Jets thought this was their season. They thought that at the end of the year they would be New York’s team.  But once again, they are an afterthought to the World Champion Giants.

What now for the Jets? How does the Giants’ Super Bowl win impact the Jets?  The Jets were already looking to make changes this offseason. They took the first step when they parted ways with Brian Schottenheimer after their season ended.  Now they need to do right by their fans and gain their support rather than losing it.

That will not be enough. The Jets need to stop lying to the public about what their intentions are for the organization. For months we heard the Schottenheimer would be with the Jets in 2012 when everyone knew what the outcome would be.  Jet fans are tired of being looked down upon by the Jets and treated differently than Giants fans.

It is time for the Jets to try to steal the spotlight away from the Giants. What better way than to sign Peyton Manning?  The Jets have already been spoken of as a contender to land Manning, but after they watched Eli Manning parade around with the Super Bowl MVP trophy, it will make the Jets more serious contenders.

Peyton Manning will bring tremendous excitement to the Jets next season. If they don’t sign Manning, they will not have attention on them and will not have made any moves worthy of hype in New York.  Just think of the Brett Favre signing.  The Jets best press seems to come from off the field moves rather than on the field play.

Peyton would provide stories, speculation and expectations for the Jets going in to next season. Without him, the Jets are miles behind the Giants going into next season.  Peyton would be able to close the gap before the 2012 season.  Just the type of press coverage the Jets enjoy.

If the Jets do not have success with Sanchez next season, they will be looking for a change at quarterback anyways. They might consider making the change this season and take a gamble on Eli’s big brother.  Otherwise, MetLife Stadium will forever be known for the Giants championship victory and the Jets looking on as usual.

Giants quotes courtesy of the NY Post, WNBC, & WFAN.

Sunday’s Jets/Patriots Game Critical For Team & Fans

For the past year and a half, New Meadowlands Stadium now MetLife Stadium has been home of the New York Jets. But Sunday will feel like their first game in the new billion dollar stadium.

When the Patriots come to East Rutherford in a gigantic AFC East match against Gang Green,  it will be a test to see if all those years of waiting will make this stadium be home to the Jets and their fans or just another upscale VIP event.

To date, this will be the Jets biggest game they will play in the new stadium.  But to the fans and everyone watching, will it feel like it. More importantly, will the Jets play as it is their biggest game played in MetLife Stadium.

For as long as I have been filming at MetLife, the former New Meadowlands Stadium, no one has enjoyed it.  Fans have had reason to hate the PSLs.  The fans hate the way it looks like a prison from the outside.  It has no life.  The stadium feels like a shell of something that could be grander.

The Jets want fans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday vs. the Patriots to give Gang Green an advantage they have yet to see at home.  They want the fans to be louder than they have ever been.  To show that the Jets can defeat their AFC rivals with confidence and certainty.  The Jets biggest opponent are themselves, and that needs to be defeated easily before they can defeat the Patriots.

But maybe this game is what the new stadium has been waiting for. Maybe Brady, Billichik, Ochocinco, and the rest of the Pats walking into the Jets home is what has been needed. The sight of the Justin Bieber wannabe has done it time and time again. The most memorable home game of Jets coach Rex Ryan’s tenure was his first. On that Sunday back in September of 2009, Giants Stadium vibrated as the Jets defeated the Patriots in an opening day battle.

The past three years has been a period of change for many sports fans, and not just of football. We’ve seen Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium torn down. Rising in their place have been buildings that seem to be more about profits than the roar of the fans, that prefer the upscale, casual sports viewer than the outspoken die-hard fan.

Since I started filming, I have heard stories & watched fans who saw Joe Namath play at Shea leave overpriced seats behind where they could have watched Mark Sanchez in a new stadium . Tales of longtime season-ticket holders fuming and forced out in droves have seen masses not come back to watch all their local sports teams.

For the Jets, MetLife Stadium was supposed to represent their first real home. The franchise has wandered like gypsies from other peoples home stadiums beginning with the Polo Grounds. MetLife is shared with the Giants, but the franchise does everything possible to make the stadium feel like home by making it look green on game day.  So fans feel like it belongs to them, not the Giants.

Like the new homes of the Mets and Yankees, though, the Jets are limited in how they can make MetLife stadium feel like home. Most of it has to do with what’s happening on the field & the green colors outside on game day. Yankee Stadium felt like doppelganger to some until they had their series with the Boston Red Sox during the opening season. Citi Field needs a Mets makeover before it becomes a tough ticket.  It has yet to feel warm and inviting to Mets fans.

On Sunday, it is zero hour for Gang Green and their fans. The Jets have a chance to see what their home field can truly sound and feel like. They have played 12 games at MetLife Stadium to date. Brett Favre’s return last year had the place shaking. The season opener with the Cowboys this year got loud when Joe McKnight blocked a punt in the fourth quarter.  But that is nothing compared to what the fans can truly sound like.

Nothing compares to the present, though. Bill Belichick and Brady enter this game vulnerable. With both teams at 5-3, this feels like an AFC Title game. It could determine whether the Jets bring a playoff game to MetLife this year.  Something the fans have demanded for years.  The ability to watch their team at home in the playoffs.  To give their Jets a home field advantage the likes the team has not seen.

Is that enough for those in the VIP boxes and Coaches Club sections to put down their over priced drinks and prime rib? Maybe Woody Johnson needs to sit with the real fans to find out what it truly feels like to be at a home Jets game.  At about 8:30 Sunday night come kick off, we’ll find out.

No Monopoly On Free Parking Around MetLife Stadium

Ever since I gave up my season tickets I have not been able to park by the stadium when I film my documentary.  One needs to obtain a parking pass to park on the premises.  For a PSL or season ticket holder, the offer is there when you buy your tickets.  Those who buy tickets for single games can buy a parking pass on Stub Hub, Craigslist, NFL Ticket Exchange, or other areas.  You may have to pay a little more than the season ticket holder but at least you get to park at the stadium.  For someone like me who is trying to save a couple bucks, trying to find a close place to park for free is not that easy.  Now it is almost impossible.

Last year I did some scouting of nearby locations and found one.  The Sheraton hotel right across Route 3.  It was close enough and provided free parking.  The one problem was the walk across Route 3.  It reminded me of the Activision game Freeway for the Atari 2600.  I was glad there was an overpass to use to walk right onto the stadium lot to make that rip easy.  Still had to watch out for cars, but it was a good walk.  Sometimes good things do not last long.

The second game of the season saw Stub Hub control the parking at the Sheraton.  They were charging $25 per vehicle to park there plus an additional cost for transportation to and from the stadium.  I told the attendant I was only going to the hotel.  He let me in so I was able to park for free.  That was the only time last season Stub Hub controlled the parking at the Sheraton.

Stub Hub Rates At The Sheraton

Other businesses around the stadium were charging for parking at various point during the season.  So those who tried to do what I did had no choice but to pay for parking wherever they parked.

The rest of the season no one controlled the parking at the Sheraton.  It was really the only place one could park close by for free and get over to the stadium.  I didn’t see too many other Jets fans there.  It made going to the game easy and hassle free.  The only issue was a long walk.  I did not mind that.  I thought I could rely on using the Sheraton parking as the place to park close for free in the future.  Was I wrong.

This season it appears every local business is charging for off site parking.  Stub Hub still charges $25 per vehicle at the Sheraton.  They also charge $5 to get over to the stadium and $5 to get back to the Sheraton per person.  Nice little program they have.  Homestead Suites next door charges $30 per vehicle.  It seems $25-$30 is the going rate for non stadium parking.  Many provide transportation but few still do not.

It seems every local business is that has a parking lot is trying to make extra money off the fans.  What seemed to be a way to keep some cash in the pocket is now a business venture for those looking to take that cash back out of the fans pocket.

From Redd’s Restaurant on Route 120 to others on Paterson Plank Rd, it seems many are off site parking for Jets and Giants fans.  If one has a residence close enough to MetLife Stadium, that individual could even charge for parking.  How could someone with a home do this? Easily.

Just do what the rest of the businesses do.  Apply for a permit through your town to provide the parking.  Albeit you should have sufficient space & offer transportation to and from the facility, but it can be done.  That is all these other businesses do.  They get a permit from the NJMC to be able to have permission to charge for parking.

To find out some of this information was not hard at all.  But I felt I was being deceived.  Last Sunday I was told from a Carlstadt officer to talk to a representative in the Parking & Concessions department at MetLife Stadium and a Lieutenant in the NJ State Police.   The officer said these people would have the information I was looking for.

So I started out by calling MetLife Stadium and instantly found the individual I was looking for.  The representative was very candid and spoke off the record so I will not be giving their name.  They said the stadium has no dealings or business with any outside party looking to charge or provide off-site parking for Jets or Giants games.  These parties have to go through the Meadowlands C Commission to get permission to charge for parking.

The Meadowlands Commission serves and the zoning and planning agency for a 30.4 square mile area along the Hackensack River covering parts of 14 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) issues a Certificate of Approval for an Outdoor Event (The outdoor event in this case is off-site parking for patrons attending events at NJSEA facilities).  The NJMC does not charge an application fee.

An application for an outdoor event is submitted to the NJMC for review with one copy of a site plan indicating the location of event areas.  The application is accompanied by copies of notification letters to Municipal Police and Fire Departments.  The NJMC must receive approval letters from both the Police and Fire Departments before issuing any approval.  Outdoor events shall not exceed a total of 14 days per property per year.

Applications must be submitted a minimum of 15 business days prior to the event. So far ten applications have been approved this year.  The NJMC only deals with the property management companies and not the business tenants.

Due to safety concerns regarding pedestrian traffic between the off-site parking locations and the NJSEA facilities, the municipal police departments require that pedestrians and vehicles be directed in a safe and orderly manner and that shuttle buses be provided continuously throughout the course of the events to prevent pedestrians from walking between the site and the NJSEA facilities.

The MetLife Stadium official endorses the use of shuttles from off-site parking facilities.  They do not wish to see people walking over Route 3 or other major highways to get to the stadium.  They also encourage the use of public transportation.  They prefer fans take buses or trains from the Secaucus Junction to get to the stadium.

So in the case of Stub Hub, they deal with the Sheraton directly.  The cost for their shuttle is optional as some opt to walk over to the stadium.  So one could drive to see what businesses are not charging for p[parking.  But one would have to consider their car might be ticketed or towed for parking illegally.  But some fans will take that risk just to save a couple bucks.

If you are one of many who purchase single game tickets and prefer to drive, look into a parking permit first.  You might end up paying face value for it of a few dollars more  It is better than the other options of giving your money to an off site lot and risk having a shuttle or not.  In my opinion, get the parking permit.  Parking at the stadium is more fun as it enables you to be able to tailgate.  Do not be the chicken who crossed the road.

New York Jets, Met Life Revel in Last Week’s Accomplishments

With MetLife purchasing the naming rights to New Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets got the first win in “The House That Snoopy Built” on Monday night, a 17-3 preseason win over the Giants.
Deemed the “MetLife Bowl,” the insurance company presented the Jets a trophy with Snoopy in leatherhead gear, holding a football in a Heisman pose.

Ryan grinned awkwardly, trying to look poised as he held a trophy for a preseason win.  It was a rare moment in the life of Rex Ryan. The Jets head coach didn’t know what to say.  Not too often Rex is at a loss for words.  Perhaps he is rehearsing in case he gets to hold the Lombardi trophy.  Then again, holding that trophy may not keep him quiet.

Now the Jets and Giants can take part in a Bowl, exclusive only to them, to battle for New York bragging rights.  The MetLife bowl sounds more suited for college than the NFL.  To some players, this could be the only bowl they get to play in.
This past Friday, players from the New York Giants and New York Jets rushed Manhattan’s Bryant Park in an unprecedented event that brought both teams together to celebrate MetLife Stadium with fans of all ages. The event was hosted by 1050 ESPN’s Mike Golic and numerous New York Jets and New York Giants were in attendance.

The New York Giants were represented by Head Coach Tom Coughlin with Eli Manning, Antrel Rolle, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Smee, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, David Diehl, Kenny Phillips, Jason-Pierre-Paul, and Will Beatty.
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New York Jets had as their contingent Head Coach Rex Ryan, with Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Nick Mangold, Shonn Greene, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, Bart Scott, D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Eric Smith, Sione Pouha, and David Harris

The event was held to commemorate the signing of a 25-year deal with the Jets and  Giants to name the East Rutherford, N.J. sports and entertainment complex. Game tickets and MetLife Stadium-branded hats, t-shirts and mini-footballs were distributed to the loyal and passionate fans who attended the event.  They did have green and blue shirts so fans from both sides felt equal.

The MetLife bowl was not just about a trophy, the Giants and Jets also battled for charity in their annual preseason game. The winning team received the MetLife Trophy as well as $40,000 for the charity of their choice, while the other team will be awarded $10,000. The Jets donated their share to The Trust for Public Land and the Giants donated their proceeds to KaBOOM!

“We had a great time bringing the fans and teams together in Bryant Park,” said Beth Hirschhorn, chief marketing officer of MetLife. “This is just one example of the exciting opportunities coming for fans in the months ahead, and we look forward to welcoming them at the new MetLife Stadium.”

At the event, New York and New Jersey fans interacted with active and retired Giants and Jets players and had multiple autograph opportunities. Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet, & oe Klecko were the veteran contingent for Gang Green.   Otis Anderson, Carl Banks, and Armani Toomer were there for the Giants.

Kids had a chance to participate in a “football handoff” from  Jets RB Shonn Greene or Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw, and had their very own Kids’ Zone where they could get close to players, have autographs signed and interact with the Peanuts gang.  It was a kids dream come true where there were no lines to wait on and all their favorite players around them. 

To those fans in attendance who could only stand by and watch the festivities, the players walked the perimeter and signed autographs for anyone who wanted.  The merchandise MetLife handed out proved to be great for capturing autographs.

Nick Mangold, who is a die hard fan of the fast casual chain Chipotle, was asked to comment on how great the food is.  His response was they already have enough positive attention and he did not need to add to it.

Through the naming rights sponsorship, MetLife plans to significantly expand the unique experiences available to fans, including tickets to big games, the opportunity to play on MetLife Stadium turf, face-to-face meetings with star players, field passes, trips to away games, signed memorabilia and much more.

Even though Monday nights win over the Giants was sloppy, it was a win.  Both teams will meet on December 24th during the regular season.  It will be a different story then.  No preseason bowl.  Just two teams looking to make a run at the playoffs and a true battle for New York supremacy.

If this past Monday night;s game is a precursor of how the teams will look this season, there is still a lot of work to be done.  With the regular season just 11 days away, both teams need to make big strides on both sides of the ball.  Even with MetLife on the new stadium, the Jets and Giants are in no ways insured they will be going to the Super Bowl.

American Dream Project Will Benefit Jets, Giants, & Meadowlands

Standing in a building that has remained unchanged and likely to get over $200 million in tax incentives, Gov. Christie ushered in the arrival of the “American Dream” in North Jersey last week.  The much-maligned and long-stagnant Xanadu development at the Meadowlands, which Christie called the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America,” along with everyone else who drives by it, will get a makeover by the Canadian developer who built Mall of America in Minnesota.

Next to the Jets and Giants stadium, with a dead-on view of the Manhattan skyline, the newly minted complex, called American Dream at Meadowlands, will feature high-end shopping, a 26-screen movie theater, nightclubs, a performing arts theater, restaurants, an indoor ice-skating rink, and an indoor ski slope (with moguls and a snowboard half-pipe), according to Triple Five, the developer.

Governor Chris Christie, NJSEA Advisory Chairman Jon Hanson and Triple Five Chairman Nader Ghermezian announced plans to operate the retail and entertainment complex called American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J Credit: Retailtrafficmag.com

And in a structural addition to the original Xanadu, there will be glass-domed amusement and water parks – with sand and palm trees.  Triple Five has been know to do this in Mall of America and other malls across Canada.  They design their malls to be places of destination for everything under one roof rather than finding entertainment is several locations.

Reuters reported that Triple Five  will be developing the world’s largest and most comprehensive retail, entertainment, amusement, recreation, and tourism project ever built.  Not a bad way to help crate jobs and revenue for New Jersey.  The economic impact for New Jersey would be $3.8 billion according to Triple Five.

Many might wonder how this will benefit the Jets and Giants.  What this will do is add options to fans and families for weekend getaways.  So instead of a Sunday of football, there is a weekend of activities.  The Jets and Giants could run activities a few days before across the road to get people psyched up for Sunday’s game.  Not to mention tie ins and other pregame festivities run by the organizations.

Show up on a Friday night to a local hotel and have dinner at American Dream and do whatever fun activity there is to do.  There is something there for every member of the family.  On Saturday one can do so much in one location, why go anywhere else?  Sunday is football.  Those not attending the game will have restaurants to watch the game in, some will shop as other family members attend the game.

The project will get at least $200 million in tax incentives from the state, Christie said at a news conference last Tuesday inside the 2.4 million-square-foot, partially built structure. But he refused to provide more details about the deal his administration worked out with Triple Five.  I am sure a lot of those breaks also include some incentives for certain NJ politicians.

The Sierra Club blasted the arrangement, releasing a statement even before the media tour of the facility was over.  The environmental group said American Dream, sitting on the most valuable piece of real estate in New Jersey, would end up getting $350 million in tax subsidies once it expands, as it has planned.  If NJ is in need of the business, jobs, and revenue, there should be not be given that much tax subsidies, but then again, NJ tax payers do not make those decisions.

The planned American Dream after completion Credit: NJ.com

Triple Five may want to call this the American Dream, but it is a nightmare to taxpayers that will pick the pockets of us regular New Jersey citizens.  It is ludicrous that at a time when many are hurting financially, local governments are broke, and property taxes are rising, that we are subsidizing this monster mall.

According to the Christie administration, the complex will create more than 9,000 construction jobs and 30,000 permanent jobs once it opens. Officials expect between 50 million and 60 million annual visitors, with half of them tourists.  Expect big numbers on football weekends as well.  I am sure the teams will set up weekend packages with tickets.

Most of American Dream will open in the fall of 2013, in time for the Super Bowl scheduled to be played at the new Meadowlands stadium.  One will wonder if American Dreams theater’s will air the Super Bowl to keep patrons there.  I am sure screens will air it all over the place to keep people shopping, riding rides, and doing what it takes to keep them there to spend money.

Triple Five plans to invest $1.5 billion atop the $2 billion already spent there, and expand by nearly a third, or one million square feet. The existing structure is well on its way to completion, with extensive aesthetic changes planned. Other essentials – such as escalators and the ski lift – also are in place.

One can only wonder if the expansion will take up more room in the non PSL parking.  Will it create trouble for those parking by the Izod Center?  Will this expansion do anything to disrupt the tailgating that goes on.  No one can tailgate in the parking garage so that is out.  Also, with the building through 2013, how will this affect fans parking for Jets and Giants games?  We can only wait and see.

The theater at American Dream will have seating for 2,000 to 3,000 people. Screens in the center of the complex will change colors on football game day, depending on whether the Jets or Giants are playing next door. And there are plans to build either a bar or movie theater on an outdoor patio that has spectacular views of New York, about 10 miles to the east.

Current Xanadu structure.......bleech!!! Credit NJ.com

Most of all, Triple Five vowed to replace the massive multicolored exterior panels, so hated by Christie and most of us here in New Jersey.  Driving by it it looks like a rust colored piece of trash.  Triple Five plans to give it a more glowing feel so people will be amazed at it look from a distance.

The Jets and Giants have both been waiting for someone to pick it up across the road.  With the American Dream coming in, it can only help their overall business from an off the field point of view.  It provides more opportunities to hold events.  The restaurants, stores, and other facilities might even have events or specials to help draw customers to spend more.  Clothing stores will have sales on jets and Giants merchandise so fans can have it in time for the game on Sunday.

I am sure Triple Five has been in touch with the Jets and Giants.  To see what opportunities it can provide each other.  Not to mention what it can do to help each other make more revenue during the 2014 Super Bowl.  Triple Five knew the opportunity and make a calculated decision.  The NY teams will have a presence at American Dream.  Might even see ESPN do some broadcasting from there at some point.

Once American Dream is completed, New jersey will have a another destination that many will flock to for vacations.  We have Atlantic City, the Jersey shore, and now American Dream.  Being close to NYC, it creates a good destination for those wanting to visit both.  It also provide the Jets and Giants an opportunity to keep fans close for an entire weekend.  But how will it benefit them financially?  We can only wait and see.  Right now, Triple Five & New jersey seem to be the only one set to profit.

 

Fireman Ed Tells A Tale Of Two Stadiums

With football in a standstill right now, people can only talk about the upcoming draft.  Next season seems like something Santa should be bringing as everyone has it on their wish list.  But you will find those who are hopeful.  The ones who are already counting the days until the Jets have their first ever home game in the new stadium against the rival Giants.  A game many always look forward to.  Some fans look forward to it more than others.  One in particular is Fireman Ed Anzalone.

I sat down with with Ed in June of last year to get his thoughts in many areas.  Ranging from the Jets chant to the Jets, to the new stadium and the PSLs.  This time, I wanted to get his thoughts on what he thought about the season, the stadium, and if there will be a 2011 season.  Ed, like always, shares some thoughts for the camera and has other thoughts off camera.

The Fireman Ed/Christopher Black Fiasco Credit:CBS News

In the old stadium, Ed sat along the 20 yard line and had a great view of the field.  Everyone knew where he was and it was easy for him to get up and lead the Jet faithful in the chants.  Now, he has his seats in the end zone behind the goal posts where people have to look and see if he can be located.  Not the best place to be to lead the crowd.  But with the cameras and video screen, it helps the situation.

Ed knew the people he sat around in the old stadium.  These were people who had their seats for over 20 years.  Now, he is surrounded by different people every game.  When Green Bay came to face the Jets, there were two rows of Packer fans surrounding him.  Ed says it is a revolving door of fans who sit in the seats in the end zone.  At least by him.  Certain ticket holders look at the seats as an investment and will make their money back charging for tickets on a per game basis.

Ed notices how many are not really there to see the game.  Ed says that they diehards are the ones who sit in the end zone to about the 20 yard line in the lower section.  From about the 20-25 yard line to the other 20-25 yard line are the fans who are not truly there to see the game.  They care more about the VIP clubs, Coaches Club, bars, lounges, and other places to watch the game.  Ed says those seats are empty during the game, but the TV camera will not pick that up.  The seats are gray for a reason.  It makes the seat look filled on TV, even when it is not.

Ed on WFAN's Boomer & Carton Credit:WFAN

Ed has paid for four PSL’s in the lower part of the end zone.  He went for the cheapest PSL’s he could afford.  People question him actually purchasing them or if the Jets gave them to him.  Ed knows that if he takes anything like that from the team, he will have to owe them something.  He does not want to take anything form them or owe them anything.  He pays like everyone else, and does not like it.  He is stuck sitting around a revolving door of fans.  Ed knows the real fans, the ones who stick it out in the worst weather sit closer to the top.  Sounds like the hierarchy in the Roman Coliseum.

Speaking of true fans, Ed has even spoken with several Giants fans.  Many fans do not like the new stadium at all for several reasons.  For one, this stadium does not have their name on it.  There are no red and blue seats.  They have to share it equally with the Jets kills some Giants fans.  Plus, some feel cheated by John Mara.  They know his father would have never have approved anything his son has done.  They feel fans have been treated better over their 90 year history and they have been slapped in the face.

Ed is optimistic the 2011 season will happen.  if it doesn’t he does hold the team owners responsible.  They have so much power and finances that they do not have to worry.  This situation shows just how greedy they really are and not willing to give in to the players.  He does feel the fans are caught in the middle and are always caught in situations with no thought.  Ed believes if there is no 2011 season, then shame on the owners for doing so.  Sometimes, there has to be give and take.  Not just take.

Leading The First Chant In New Stadium Credit:JetsTwit.com

There comes a time when some know their time is up.  When a torch needs to be passed.  Ed knows that time is coming soon for him.  He is over 50 and knows he can not do the Jets chants much longer.  He said if someone came along and thinks they can do it or takes a shot and doing what he does, then he would step aside gracefully.  Ed believes in a few years, there will be some other Jets diehard fan doing what he does, and younger.  And Ed is ok with that.  he is content to just attend and watch the games.

Ed is not shy when it comes to giving his opinions.  I just do not feel like giving them all away right now.  Then what would be left for the documentary?  I may decide to give people more in a little bit.  It all depends on the lockout being lifted.  There are appeals and so much more that can happen.  So instead of writing about the Jets, I will have more on Fireman Ed.

Football is entering a new era.  The NFL will not be the same after this lockout.  The teams, players, and even the fans know that the sport of football has been replaced with the business of football.  Fans are not fans any longer, they are consumers.  Looked at for the dollar they spend.  Long gone are the days where you knew people names in the stadium.  Where you could get up close and personal.  Now that is done on Facebook and Twitter.  Ed saw the change coming years ago.  He may be known as Fireman Ed to everyone, but to the Jets, he is both a consumer and a brand they can push to make them more money.

Fans Remember The Past, Easier Than Thinking About Future

With no talk about free agency, contract negotiations, or off season workouts, there is not much football talk going on.  All people can do right now is discuss the draft in a few weeks and make their predictions.  It reminds me of the book/movie “All Quiet On The Western Front”.

Every football fan looks forward to going to the games.  Not just to see their favorite team, but to be with friends and family.  It is a time to relax, have fun, and have experiences that will turn into memories.  I am sure a lot of people are reflecting on some now, hoping there will be a season this year.  If not, they will reflect on seasons past and the fun they had.  For many Jet s fans, the memories are all we have the past 40 years.

Many of us reflect on previous seasons.  Games we attended with our father, brother, mother, sister, grandfather, uncle,  or other family members who may not be with us anymore.  It did not matter how bad the game was, one would always find something good to remember about the day.  Even if it was a bad game, there was something about it that made it a positive experience.  Many talk about how much they hated Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium.  But they will always mention how much fun those times were in those bad situations.

My brother Ean and my father Jerry

If you are like me, you recall games you attended with someone who passed away.  I always think about my dad when I think about the Jets.  Every time I went to a game without him and sat in Section 226 Row 8, Seats 7 and 8 in Giants Stadium, I would think about him.  Walking around the new stadium while filming, I would thin about him and wonder what he would think about the new structure built for the financially elite.  Sometimes I would talk aloud to him, as if he was walking next to me.

A funny story my dad would always tell me was about the time he was headed to the AFL Championship game between the Jets and Oakland Raiders.  He was speeding and was pulled over.  He was sitting in a line of a dozen cars that were pulled over, dead last behind them all.  He was running late and wanted to be there by kick off.  He calls an officer over and explains he knows he was speeding and deserves the ticket.  He then explains to the officer why he was speeding and shows him the tickets to the game.  The officer tells him to hold on and be patient.  Less than five minutes later, the officer returns with the ticket and tells my father to leave.  He left before the other cars pulled over did.

He was the type that would have looked at the new stadium in amazement.  Amazed at all the technology that was put into it and laugh when I would have to explain the reasons why.  He was the type that just liked to watch the game, not much else.  He would follow the changes in the game, but laugh and smile at the tech advances that are interwoven into it.  He would have been 76 today.  Still feels like yesterday.  Every time the football season begins I think of all those games we went to.  I know some others who feel the same as I do.

While filming in the parking lot at Giants Stadium in 2008, I came across Tommy Wilson. Such a dedicated Jets fan he owned the license plates “JETS” & “12 JETS”.  I later find out Jets owner Woody Johnson offered to buy the “JETS” plate from him.  Always wearing his #12 Joe Namath jersey and always at the games, his personality and presence felt like my father’s.  I guess that is why his story touches me even more than others I met while filming.

Tommy was honored in 2002 by the NFL and Visa Pro Football Hall for Fans.  He wrote the winning essay as to why he should be the fan to represent the Jets in the Hall of Fans.  He held 10 season tickets for close to 40 years.  His restaurants was named after the lot he tailgated in, Lot 12A.  A true “Super” Fan in my book.

There is more I can say about Tommy but do not want to give away his entire story.  I went back to get a follow up in September of 2009 and he pushed it to another game.  When I emailed him about it in early November of 2009, his wife Mary Lou informed me he passed away in early October.  I was deeply saddened to hear the news.  He had purchased several PSL’s too.  Tommy lived and breathed the Jets, helped to pay for the new stadium, is in the Hall of Fans for the Jets, but yet was just another fan to the Jets organization.

DSC07211

Tommy Jr, his sister, and Mary Lou Wilson

I met up with his widow Mary Lou and her son Tommy Jr this past October.   Mary Lou thought about giving up the seats after he passed but knew Tommy would not have wanted that.  Last year was a hard season but this year was different.  Once again, many people who used to tailgate with them at 13A were not there.  Some did not get PSL’s, others did not have the right parking permits, while others feel it is not the same without Tommy.  For the remainder of tailgating last year, it was very somber without Tommy.  He was the nucleus that held that tailgate together.  Tommy Jr. got a tattoo to remember his father, even though his father did not like tattoos.

Mary Lou and Tommy Jr. always reflect on their memories about Tommy.  It makes them smile and feel good about being a Jet fan.  Even with next season uncertain, they still reflect and always will.  Tommy was one of those fans that made you feel good when he talked.  I guess he holds a place in my heart because he reminded me of my own father.  There is a strange connection to fans from a certain era in football.  An era where it was about the game, not the politics.

Everyone knows the kind of fans I refer to.  The ones where they smile when they talk about past seasons.  When memories were about actions on the field, not battles in courts off the field.  Older generations of fans seem to have this glow in their eyes.  Where you do not mind listening to their stories.  The kind where you can sit with a beer and listen for hours if you need a reason to smile.

Right now fans need a reason to smile.  They need a reason to believe a season will happen this year.  Many look forward to those home games, not just to tailgate, but to create memories with friends and family.  50% of ticket money was already due, PSL payment in several months.  Do the Jets think the season will happen?  But when a season looks like it may not happen, there is nothing to look forward to.

As it stands, all we can do is think ahead to a season that may or may not happen.  We can reflect about the games we have all been to before.  Many will talk about the past two seasons as they ended in trips to the AFC Championship game.  Looking forward to a season where a Super Bowl could be in the Jets grasp for the first time n over 40 years.  But all we can do is sit back and wait.

There may be no season.  Then all we can do is reflect on the 2011 season that never was.  How we all waited for players and owners to come to an agreement to end a lockout.  Where the courts made the decision instead of the NFL.  In 1987 at least there were some games played.  Who knows what will happen this year.

Ahh, the memories.

Jets Decisions Affect Fans And Employees

Over the past week, the Jets have made the news for various items.  I have already talked about Bart Scott making an appearance on this Thursday’s TNA Impact, which airs at 9 PM on Spike TV.  Now, the Jets have two other items that people have been talking about.  The Jets announced a 2.3% increase on all PSL seats.  They also announced for front office staff they have to take non paid week long furloughs once a month during the lockout.  Even with the season over and the CBA looming this week, the Jets still know how to make the headlines.

There will be a 2.3% average increase in ticket prices at New Meadowlands Stadium for the 2011 season. Upper level seat prices will remain the same.  I am sure those ticket holders are breathing a sigh of relief. The cost of all seats with a PSL will increase by $5.  If there is a shortened season, the effect will not be as bad.

Season-ticket holders will be required to pay only 50% of their season tickets & parking by April 1; full payment was due by that date last year. The remaining portion won’t be due until the league announces the date that training camps will open. Season-ticket holders will also have a six-month payment plan option.  I applaud the Jets for doing this.  They finally woke up and understand people may not be able to flip the entire bill by April 1st.  They should have started payment plans years ago.

Photo: JetsTwit.com

In the case of a lockout, season-ticket holders will be refunded a proportional amount if preseason or regular-season games are lost.  PSL payments won’t be affected by a lockout.  So no matter what, fans still need to hand over their money to help pay for the stadium, and their new renovations.

“While we have every reason to believe that the season will go forward as planned, we’ve adjusted our ticket policies to reflect this period of uncertainty,” said Matt Higgins, executive vice president of business operations.

The Jets will also work in conjunction with Mark Lamping, the CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, to provide more shelter from rain in the upper level end zone concourses and add 40% more capacity in the mens restrooms in the upper level. I interviewed fans who thought this move should have been done.  Fan favorite Woody Johnson toured the upper level concourse in the rain toward the end of the regular season before determining that more shelter from the inclement weather was needed.  The Jets played more than half their home games in the rain.

Matt Higgins also said “In the first year of any new stadium, you have a chance to evaluate what worked right and then where you can improve. “There’s always room for improvement. We had a few issues that we’re going to address in the off-season to improve the experience in the upper bowl.”  Fans during the season expressed a lot of changes that needed to be made.  It seems the Jets have listened to some of them.

The Jets also reduced orange level parking prices for season-ticket holders from $25 to $15. The orange parking is the NON PSL parking.  Fans can also upgrade parking levels from orange to yellow on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Many wanted to do this, seeing the yellow was closer and better areas to tailgate in.  There was only one orange parking section in close proximity to the stadium.  The rest was by the Izod Center.

Many fans have e mailed me saying they saw some kind of increase coming.  With no stadium sponsor the Jets and Giants need to generate extra revenue.  They may claim rising costs and overhead or economy issues, but with no stadium named after a big company, there is money that needs to be made.  If there is a full season, one seat will be $40 higher.  There is part of one parking pass or a 1/4 tank of gas right now.

On top of that the team announced that business-side employees will be asked to take a one-week per month furlough during the lockout.

“While we have every reason to believe that the season will go on as planned, it makes sense to adjust our policies to reflect that uncertainty around exactly when an agreement will be reached,” said Matt Higgins said, per the NY Daily News.

The effects of the lockout could prove catastrophic for some employees.  News of the proposed furlough came on the same day the team announced a blanket 2.3 percent increase on all season tickets in 2011.

This could backfire on the Jets.  Some employees might have to seek other employment.  This is not the kind of economy where not being paid one week a month would sit well with many.  Others might try to stick it out, seeing they work for an NFL franchise.  So the Jets try to cut costs in their organization and raise prices for fans to pay more for tickets.

Shouldn’t the Jets be the ones to pay more and try to save money for the fans?  I know there will be some kind of evidence where the Jets have said or will try to make sure fans pay less for something.  Not just on non PSL parking, but for everyone?  Now the payment plans and paying for only games played is a great business decision.  But there should be at least one season where the fans do not have to see prices go up on them.  Just once.