I’m glad the National Football League owners decided to award the 2014 Super Bowl to the New York metropolitan area but the media pundits are being naive if they think the league did it because it’s important for its “big game” to be played on the world’s biggest stage.
As romantic as it would be to picture NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leading his owners in a rousing chorus of Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” the truth is that business factors influenced the vote. There’s little doubt that a Super Bowl in the near future will help the Jets and Giants help sell those slow-moving and controversial personal seat licenses. If the PSL concept proves successful here, it will spread to nearly every other NFL market. Super Bowl XLVIII will also help up the ante for naming rights for the new Meadowlands Stadium.
The biggest factor, though, is that it will give leverage to NFL owners in Rust Belt cities a huge boost in getting tax breaks and other governmental financing favors for any new stadiums, under the premise that now even cold-weather cities with outdoor arenas can have Super Bowls.
Since there’s no possibility of a Triple Crown winner, this year’s Belmont Stakes will not be a major sports story except to true horse racing fans. Frankly, the biggest drama after the Preakness was whether the bankrupt New York Racing Association would be able to get financing to have a summer racing season following the Belmont Stakes. Happily, NYRA was able to secure a $25 million loan to ensure races for the rest of 2010.
There’s little doubt that both Aqueduct and Belmont desperately need the kind of casino gaming that has reinvigorated Philadelphia Park. The sad saga behind the questionable selection of a video lottery terminal operator for Aqueduct was covered extensively in the Queens Chronicle.
What angers me, though, is how little NYRA has done over the years to fill one of the nicest sporting venues in this country, Belmont Park. In the 1970s and early ’80s many national music acts performed there. It was packed nearly every weekend.
There are plenty of name entertainers whose fees are not astronomical who’d love to appear at Belmont. Renowned artists could draw thousands there. But NYRA executives would rather keep whining as they have for the last 40 years about how off-track betting hurts business than invest in getting new fans.
Not only were the Mets nearly invincible in their last homestand but Citi Field was even more attractive because of the appearance last Thursday of Miss USA, Rima Fakih. Although she represented Michigan in the pageant, Rima grew up in Jackson Heights, graduated from St. John’s Prep in Astoria, and is a big Mets fan. “I love it here so much that my nickname to my friends in Detroit is “Queenz” with a hip-hop style ‘z,’” she said.
Congratulations to Dario Franchitti (husband of actress Ashley Judd) on winning this year’s Indy 500. Motorsports’ biggest race lacked some glamor this year, though, since Milka Duno, a fixture in People’s annual “100 Most Beautiful” issue, failed to qualify for the race. Wait till next year, Milka!