Super Bowl underwhelms local hotels

The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Company promoted “nearly 600 million in spending” locally when the decision was first made to host football’s biggest game of the year. But some hotels and New Jersey residents haven’t seen the type of boom they were told to expect. They’re pointing their fingers at the weather and more visitors from nearby states as the cause.

“I think that the revenue expected will not be materialized,” said Karen Shackman, owner of Shackman Associates New York, a destination management company.

Shackman Associates organizes local transportation, venues, hotels and other hospitality industries to service corporate clients attending events like the Super Bowl. Shackman clarified that she does think the city will benefit tremendously from the influx of people through spending at restaurants and shopping. But she said she has noticed a pattern with local hotels only filling rooms they normally would have without the influence of the Super Bowl. She cited the Waldorf Astoria, which has booked around 700 to 800 rooms, typical occupancy for this time. Matt Zolbe, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Waldorf Astoria, is unfazed.

“We were already a high occupancy hotel,” said Zolbe. “Plans were made well in advance to use our room blocks.”

Zolbe said they aren’t getting a rush of people in the lobby sporting Broncos or Seahawk jerseys because their clientele were planning on going to the Super Bowl no matter who got in and to bring their top clients. Zolbe said there is just more hype for the Super Bowl but without it there would have been some other event in New York that would be filling rooms at the Waldorf Astoria.

Shackman said maybe the reason hotels aren’t seeing a boost is because there are people visiting from nearby states to see the attractions without necessarily booking a room.

Hjordys Espinal, a paralegal for Jersey City who put her apartment for rent on Airbnb over Super Bowl weekend, has a different theory about the lukewarm economic performance.

“We’ve been having horrible, horrible winter weather,” said Espinal.

For the Super Bowl Kickoff Spectacular in Liberty State Park on Monday, Espinal said only half of the expected attendees showed up because of the cold. The free event featured the Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray and the Macy’s fireworks show.

This Super Bowl could be the coldest in history. The current record is Super Bowl VI in 1972 that was 39 degrees at kickoff, which is the expected high for Sunday’s game according to the National Weather Service.

Espinal said she rushed to get her apartment ready to rent for the Super Bowl, because she thought it would be a great economic opportunity. She hasn’t gotten any bookings yet. Whether or not she gets any she plans on spending Super Bowl Sunday at her son’s house and cooking a lot of hot wings, a family tradition.



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