volunteers the 2014 super bowl needs you.
The Super Bowl wants you: Volunteers needed to assist with game-related events
By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger
MetLife Stadium will host next February's Super Bowl XLVIII.
"Join the world’s biggest huddle" is the pitch from the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee to the 15,000 to 20,000 volunteers it says are needed to host next February’s big game.
Locals must attend a training session, work at least 2 shifts of three to four hours each between Jan. 25 and Feb. 3, 2014 and agree to a "standard background check."
But being in the huddle doesn’t mean they’ll get close to the game. Volunteers will be stationed at the many transportation and tourist sites in the metropolitan region to greet visitors attending Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium and to assist them in their travels. They won’t be needed inside MetLife Stadium on game day, and no volunteers will receive tickets to the game.
And that’s fine with Ed Jackenthal, a Giants season ticketholder from Ewing Twp. who is one of thousands who have already registered.
"Part of it is pride, representing the franchise and representing the region," Jackenthal, 51, said. "New Yorkers get such a bad reputation, but we can be as warm and courteous as the next person.
"This is a unique opportunity for us to shine, to show the world that we can do this right, regardless of the weather," he said.
Volunteers, a Super Bowl tradition going back decades, are critical to the game’s success, host committee president Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. said.
"(Visitors) need to feel welcome, and comfortable and know there are people who can answer questions for them," Kelly said.
The host committee is working with corporations including Prudential, PSE&G and Hertz and educational institutions on both sides of the Hudson to recruit volunteers, Kelly said. With 10 months until kickoff, they are at 13,000, more than half-way to the goal.
The recruitment goal is twice the number New Orleans needed for the last Super Bowl. Jeff Rossi, director of volunteers for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, said about 8,000 were needed for the week of activities before the game.
But Super Bowl XLVIII’s two-state reach means much more ground to cover, Kelly said.
"We’ll have people at the three main airports and at a number of the private airports, at close to 200 hotels, at the main train stations, Penn Station New York and Newark, Lautenberg Station in Secaucus, Grand Central, Hoboken, the Port Authority," Kelly said. "And we’ll have people on the streets in places like Hoboken, Jersey City and Manhattan."
The potential for a crippling storm is another reason the committee is seeking so many volunteers.
"We’re assuming weather could be a challenge. We’re going to need them in the right places, which is why we’ll need more (than 15,000)," Kelly said. "If you live in Essex County, you might not want to go to Jersey City if the weather is lousy. Not a lot of people from Queens will want to go to Newark airport."
Jets fan and Montclair State University employee Stacy Albanese has already registered to help. Montclair State has promised to field 3,000 volunteers from students and faculty to alumni, school officials said. It will also provide space for committee meetings and interns from its student body.
"I’m a big football fan, but I’m a bigger fan of Montclair State," Albanese said. "This is history, and we want to be number one, have more volunteers than anyone else."
Volunteers must be 18 by Nov. 1 and agree to a "standard background check," required and funded by the National Football League and paid for by the league.
"I’m not going to say what we’re looking for," he said. "But we want to me sure that our volunteers are good citizens and in no way shape or form (will) create any sort of embarrassment from us."
Volunteers must attend a training session, which could last a half-day or longer, depending on the assignment. A volunteer stationed at Penn Station in Newark will not have the range of questions and answers that someone at the airport or on Fifth Avenue might encounter, he said.
The volunteers will be given uniforms – theirs to keep! – and assignments will be made in advance. Kelly said groups can request the same shifts, and the committee will do its best to deliver. He said corporate employees have already requested group assignments.
Ticketholder Jackenthal is hoping to draft the two dozen fans he tailgates with to work with him on the event. Having attended two Super Bowls when the Giants played in Arizona and Indiana, Jackenthal knows first-hand the importance of the volunteer corp.
"The last one in Indianapolis, they all had these blue and white scarves and they were every where. You could always find where you needed to go because there was always someone to help you," he said. "The vibe is like Mardi Gras, and who doesn’t want to be a part of that?"
The volunteer program is one of the committee’s biggest undertakings, Kelly said.
"We have to find them, screen them, train them, uniform them, assign them," Kelly said. "That would be big if you only had to worry about 1,000 people."
Jackenthal said it is every football fan’s dream to be part of the Super Bowl.
"Odds are we’ll never have one again," he said. "If we do, I’d love to say I was part of the reason we did get another one."
To register as a volunteer, go to nynjsuperbowl.com.