The hosting of the 2014 Super Bowl offers enormous economic development potential for both New York and New Jersey, and the challenge will be to maximize its lasting benefits. The model should be New York City's hosting of the 1992 Democratic National Convention, for which three events were created that continue to promote New York annually 18 years later.
The three events created by New York '92, the public-private hosting effort, are: Restaurant Week (which began with an initial $19.92 prix fixe lunch); Broadway on Broadway, the free outdoor concert by the Broadway theaters; and Fashion Week, which started in 1992 as "New York is Fashion" and was the first time that New York's major fashion houses joined together to show their designs in one place (a massive tent in Central Park). The following year the event moved to Bryant Park and was renamed "Seventh on Sixth," before later changing its name to Fashion Week.
The economic impact of that convention - a legacy that has not been matched by any other American political convention - is the result of three key concepts, and those concepts hold similar potential for the hosting of the 2014 Super Bowl:
First, engage the public, not just those who are in town to attend the event. Two of the three events created in 1992 (Restaurant Week and Broadway on Broadway) were open to the public; the third could not be, because of space constraints, but the other two set the tone that the celebration was for everyone.
Second, promote uncontestable attributes of the host city (or states, in this case) rather than the city itself. If you promote a particular location, the result will be a one-time promotion. If you promote attributes of the region, which have industries attached to them, then you have the makings of an ongoing opportunity, because those industries have perpetual promotional needs.
Third, create events that address pivotal needs of targeted industries. Restaurant Week, which initially sold out in hours, responded to the restaurants' desire for more lunchtime business during the summer. Broadway on Broadway was designed to attract new audiences by providing a sampling of the new theater season's offerings. "New York is Fashion" resulted from the fashion industry's desire to produce a fashion event that would compete with Paris and Milan. Addressing those needs effectively was the key to the industries' continuation of them in subsequent years.
Much has been written in the days following the decision to hold the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands about whether Greater New York or New Jersey will be hosting the event. But that debate misses the point and jeopardizes the event's potential for everyone. In fact, it raises the likelihood that the media will focus on the rivalry between the two states rather than the promotional needs and assets of the region. It could become one more example of sacrificing the public good on the altar of partisanship.
Instead, the two states should begin working together to incorporate the three ingredients described above into their planning. Which industries should be featured will emerge from the planning process. The first step is to identify specific attributes that both states share, then bring together some of the most creative people in the region to consider ideas for promoting them, and then explore interest from industries associated with those attributes and ideas.
Music, for instance, might be an attribute - with performing arts venues, concert halls, and clubs coming together to create a "Sounds Super" Festival, highlighting local talent at all levels. The Hudson River, which separates as well as binds the two states, might be another attribute - with Hudson River Valley winter promotions developed. Even a seemingly unlikely attribute like biomedical research could be a possibility, if creatively conceived to engage a broad public.
The key is to create a framework that enables the best ideas, tied to specific industry interests, to emerge. When the industry interests and the public interest come together, the lasting benefits will become clear.
The author, Chief Operating Officer of Goodman Media International (www.goodmanmedia.com) was CEO of New York '92.
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