Chris Christie was not only booed at a couple of Super Bowl events this week but he’s now catching flak for blowing the big bucks the game was supposed to rain down on New Jersey in the first place.
Four years ago Christie celebrated the deal with the NFL that would bring the game to his state for the first time, saying, “It’s great for New Jersey’s morale and the sense of who we are.” But as The Star-Ledger wrote in an editorial yesterday, Christie allowed Jersey communities to be treated like a “bunch of nobodies who just happen to have a football field close to Manhattan.”
“The NFL promised some $550 million would be coming to the region. Most of it will be going right back out” with the league, the Ledger says. “New Jerseyans probably ought to blame our embattled governor for the second-rate treatment we’re receiving today.”
“New Jersey did not fare well,” the paper quotes the chair of the New Jersey Hotel and Lodging Association as saying. “We didn’t get the windfall we all thought.”
That’s in part because the NFL deal included Sochi-like measures to “wall off the MetLife Stadium from the surrounding community,” meaning that “local bars and hotels would not be permitted to run the shuttle buses they normally use to transport fans to the games.” (Fans who booked hotels within walking distance of the stadium had to take $35 cabs to Secaucus, where they then waited hours in an overheated, overcrowded “mass transit debacle.”)
And while New York City retained official Super Bowl naming rights (like calling Broadway near Times Square “Super Bowl Boulevard”), towns like East Rutherford, home of the stadium, and Montclair weren’t allowed to call their Super Bowl parties “Super Bowl” parties “because of threats from the NFL’s lawyers,” the Ledger says.
Less than two months ago, the Super Bowl was on track to be another opportunity, like his re-election itself, for Christie to “run up the score” on his way toward the GOP presidential nomination. But fixated on national glory, Christie forgot the locals—like all those people still waiting for the Hurricane Sandy relief funds he promised amid great media hoopla. Apparently, millions of those dollars have become part of a political slush fund. (See Steve Kornacki’s comprehensive report here.)
One measure of how much has changed for Christie is that the local Jersey color he used to revel in now seems entirely out of reach. In October, before Bridgegate and before he went all faux humble, Christie recalled telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that if the lights went out for his Super Bowl the way they did at New Orleans’s a year earlier, “there will be bodies strewn in the parking lot for the people who are responsible for the lights going out, because that’s the way we handle matters in New Jersey.”
Christie knows better than to say that today. The people who shut down the lanes on the GW Bridge aren’t lying in a parking lot somewhere—David Wildstein at least is asking for immunity, and promising Christie’s political corpse in return.