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tk13
02-05-2005, 04:51 PM
If you'd been reading Bill Simmons' (the Boston Sports Guy on ESPN) running diary of Super Bowl week from Jacksonville, he's been complaining about this all week, says it's impossible to get around right now.... he thinks there is no way the stadium is filled before kickoff because of traffic.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=576&ncid=755&e=6&u=/nm/20050205/sp_nm/nfl_super_jacksonville_dc

Super Bowl Host City Struggles to Deal with Invading Army

59 minutes ago Sports - Reuters

By Steve Keating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., (Reuters) - The New England Patriots (news) and Philadelphia Eagles (news) are expected to produce a bruising battle for Super Bowl XXXIX on Sunday.

In the buildup to the NFL title game it is, however, the host city that is taking the most vicious hits.

The smallest city to host the Super Bowl, Jacksonville is in danger of being overwhelmed by thousands of visitors searching for hotel rooms, cabs, tickets and parties.

Revellers pouring into the downtown core have created gridlock and huge headaches for police.

In an attempt to ease hotel congestion, the NFL took a page from the book of the Athens Olympics organizers and parked five cruise ships along the St Johns river.

Even they have been overbooked, leaving last-minute visitors traveling as far as Orlando, 150 miles away, to find a room.

Those without tickets have even tougher challenges. Desperate Eagles fans are lining routes into the city holding signs offering $4,000 for a pair of tickets.

In a city with only 300 licensed taxis, finding a way back to your room -- if you have one -- can be equally tough. Many drivers are refusing to venture into the vortex of partying for fear of never finding their way out.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue stands by the league's decision to bring the Super Bowl to Jacksonville, painting it as a return to the sport's roots and a move away from the excesses of past championship games.

"Here in a city connected by bridges we say that this Super Bowl is about building bridges, including a bridge to our small-town roots, to the values of our game and to the passion for football in towns of all sizes throughout America," said Tagliabue during his state of the league address on Friday.

"In other years, we get lambasted by some people because we're into high-end hotels and luxury in excess and hedonism. And this year we're not into any of those things, we're getting lambasted."

While Tagliabue chose to play down the Super Bowl glitz, there is no shortage of A-list events and celebrities prowling the football party circuit here.

Playboy and Maxim magazines will stage their annual Super Bowl bashes on Saturday in customary hedonistic fashion while some of the world's richest people and business elite will mingle at exclusive soirees held in sprawling beachside mansions or multi-million yachts on the river.

"I think Jacksonville will prove, it is proving, that it's got all the things that you need to host the Super Bowl game successfully, including great hospitality and interest in the game," said Tagliabue.

"My feeling is that we will back here at some point."

|Zach|
02-05-2005, 04:53 PM
They should have had it in Blue Springs.

Calcountry
02-05-2005, 04:55 PM
As long as the Patriots are perennial favorites to be in the Super Bowl, it should be played in Anchorage, Alaska. Bastiges like playing in freezing cold conditions.

tk13
02-05-2005, 05:07 PM
Some of the highlights from Bill Simmons' diary... :)

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/superblog/3

I have talked to as many locals as possible over the past few days -- cab drivers, concierges, bartenders, waitresses, volunteers, locals, readers, you name it -- and asked all of them the same two questions:

1. "Were you surprised when Jacksonville got the Super Bowl?"

2. "Are you worried that this week will go smoothly?"

The consensus answer for Question No. 1: "Absolutely, I was stunned, I couldn't believe it."

The consensus answer for Question No. 2: "I'm terrified, I'm not sure we're ready for this."

There are some major logistical problems here. Jacksonville is more spread out than any other American city -- 884 square miles, even bigger than Houston -- only they don't have nearly enough cabs, and there isn't a reliable form of public transportation that covers the entire territory. (Note: You almost need to rent a citizen from Jacksonville and make them your personal house boy for the week, like when Ian McKellan had Kiko in "And the Band Played On.") They tried to solve this problem by using buses to haul everyone around ... but what happens on Saturday night, when you have hundreds of thousands of people descending on the city, then they all have to find their way back home? And what about the people forced to stay in Daytona (70 miles away), Orlando (140 miles away) and even Georgia (one state away).

(Even if you're 20 minutes from downtown, you're screwed. One of my cab drivers told me last night that, starting Thursday, his company will be charging $100 an hour for every cab ride, even if you're only going 10 minutes. Does that sound like a fun wrinkle for Super Bowl Week?)

By all accounts, the traffic heading into the city is going to be an uber-nightmare -- even on Tuesday at rush hour, cars were moving along at a snail's pace. And nobody's here yet. If you planned on renting a car, don't -- most of the streets downtown are shut off, and they're not letting anyone park anywhere. I have friends at hotels that are as far as 45 minutes away from me, and we're all within the city limits. There's no central location for people to meet -- I keep hearing about The Landing, but we went down there last night and the place was deader than dead.

-----------------------------

Remember when I wrote that "This could be the Super Bowl disaster by which all other Super Bowls will be compared"? Well, judging from the traffic tonight, I'd like to make a new prediction: This will be the first Super Bowl ever where 33 percent of the fans aren't even in their seats for the Opening Kickoff. Just wait until you see how this plays out. We'll be reading about it for weeks afterwards.

------------------------------

Longest wait for a taxi: Thursday afternoon
After I finished my ESPN.com chat on Thursday morning, I walked down Bay Street to check out some of the merchandise shops, eventually ending up at The Landing -- the tourist-y section of downtown Jacksonville. After inhaling a Chick Fil-A sandwich (a Southern fast food specialty) and walking around, I headed back outside to catch a cab back to the hotel. Forty-five minutes later, I was still looking. Not a single cab. I'm not even kidding. And this was a pretty busy scene downtown. I can't wait until this weekend -- it's going to be like "Escape from New York."

Most egregious decision of the week: The ATM ripoff
Would you believe me if I told you that the city of Jacksonville changed all the ATMs (excluding the ones in actual banks) so that A) it costs $5.00 for every ATM transaction fee, and B) you can only take out $100 at a time, and nothing more than that? Well, it's true. In other words, if you want to take out $300, it costs you an extra $15. Great city. Why not charge $5 a pop to use the port-o-johns? What about an "Airport Tax" or $25 for anyone leaving the city? Anyway, if you're coming down here, take out plenty of money beforehand.

-------------------------------

Last night, I wanted to check out the "Madden Bowl 2005," EA Sports' annual Super Bowl party, the one where NFL players play each other in "Madden." Unfortunately, there was a massive accident on the highway Thursday night, with no sign that the traffic would improve ... so when I had to make a decision on going, I was banking on a two-hour cab ride to get downtown, with no guarantee that I had a ride back at the end of the night (you know, the cab shortage thing). What would you have done? I ended up skipping the event and headed to Dave & Buster's for dinner, along with three friends that were staying at a Best Western right down the street from me (or as they call it, "The Worst Western"). We ended up playing video games until 10:00 p.m., then I headed back to my room and watched Cavs-Heat and Spurs-Lakers on TNT. The end.

-------------------------------

Here was my last-ditch attempt to check out the NFL Experience: It took me 20 minutes on I-95, followed by bumper-to-bumper traffic coming off the exit. The surrounding parking lots were full. And I would have had to wait for about 45 minutes to reach the main parking lot -- where I would have spent like $35 for parking -- had I wanted to continue my journey. So rolled the dice and tried a side street, hoping to catch an empty lot somewhere. Bad idea. Three right turns later, I was right back where I started, only I was further back in line. Finally I gave up and came back to my hotel, where I've been slowly killing everyone else on my floor, then stockpiling the bodies in my bathroom. By the time they start to stink, I'll be long gone.

-------------------------------

The high rollers (NFL owners, major celebs, CEOs, rich people) are all bent out of shape because the city doesn't have any first-class hotels. For instance, there was a story in the local paper today about Falcons owner Arthur Blank (CEO of Home Depot) complaining about loud music in his hotel (the Adams Mark) at 1 a.m. on Thursday morning. You just KNOW he was bitching out Paul Tagliabue the next morning.

-------------------------------

One of my editors left his hotel at 9:45, drove around aimlessly for two-plus hours, couldn't get to the party because of all the closed-off streets, and returned to his hotel at 12:15. That was his Friday night. "You're treating this city with kid gloves," he hissed this morning.

wazu
02-05-2005, 05:12 PM
"Here in a city connected by bridges we say that this Super Bowl is about building bridges, including a bridge to our small-town roots, to the values of our game and to the passion for football in towns of all sizes throughout America," said Tagliabue during his state of the league address on Friday.

What an unbelievable amount of bullsh*t! Want to talk about taking the Superbowl back to it's roots? How about having them in places like Green Bay and Kansas City?

morphius
02-05-2005, 05:17 PM
"I think Jacksonville will prove, it is proving, that it's got all the things that you need to host the Super Bowl game successfully, including great hospitality and interest in the game," said Tagliabue.

Why not just say the truth, its warm and my buddies and I can play a few rounds of golf...

morphius
02-05-2005, 05:19 PM
What an unbelievable amount of bullsh*t! Want to talk about taking the Superbowl back to it's roots? How about having them in places like Green Bay and Kansas City?
Oh come on, we can't make all the celeb's sit out in the cold, now can we?

Sure would be nice if the SB was about the fans...

Skip Towne
02-05-2005, 05:26 PM
They really need to have one in Tulsa.

KCWolfman
02-05-2005, 05:54 PM
They should have had it in Blue Springs.
Bowlers using durable medical equipment have taken over that town.

|Zach|
02-05-2005, 06:04 PM
Bowlers using durable medical equipment have taken over that town.
Hey, you ever want to bowl in the KC Metro area again then you will keep your damn mouth shut...

KCWolfman
02-05-2005, 06:37 PM
Hey, you ever want to bowl in the KC Metro area again then you will keep your damn mouth shut...
Or if I need a colostomy bag?

BIG_DADDY
02-05-2005, 06:49 PM
I just hope Jacksonville isn't like Tampa was when the Raiders beat the Redskins. The night before the game there were cops everywhere in Tampa I have never seen so many people arrested. I would suck to have tickets and end up in Jail Saturday night until Monday morning.

dtebbe
02-05-2005, 09:18 PM
I've seen the chiefs play twice in Jacksonville, and it is absolutley a shit-hole 2nd rate stadium and town all around. I could NOT BELIEVE they gave the SUPERBOWL to such a shithole. IMHO Las Vegas needs to build a 100,000+ seat football stadium where the superbowl is played every year. Say what you want about Vegas, but it is built for that sort of thing.

DT

KC Jones
02-05-2005, 09:20 PM
I've seen the chiefs play twice in Jacksonville, and it is absolutley a shit-hole 2nd rate stadium and town all around. I could NOT BELIEVE they gave the SUPERBOWL to such a shithole. IMHO Las Vegas needs to build a 100,000+ seat football stadium where the superbowl is played every year. Say what you want about Vegas, but it is built for that sort of thing.

DT

The NFL hates and fears Vegas. Unless there's a massive change of heart among the owners, Vegas will never have a franchise or a SuperBowl.

ENDelt260
02-05-2005, 09:20 PM
Say what you want about Vegas, but it is built for that sort of thing.

DT

I never really stopped to think about it before, but... yeah, if there was ever a warm weather town that knows how to handle a f*ckload of tourists...

Bowser
02-05-2005, 09:29 PM
Jeezus, five bucks for an ATM withdrawl, and a $100 limit per transaction? Legalized theft, by criminey!!

stevieray
02-05-2005, 09:35 PM
Tags is a tool. The NFL will be better off when he retires.

ChiefsCountry
02-05-2005, 11:13 PM
I never really stopped to think about it before, but... yeah, if there was ever a warm weather town that knows how to handle a f*ckload of tourists...

Orlando?

Demonpenz
02-05-2005, 11:51 PM
everyone thinks jax is like miami, hot, hot babes, good beaches and stuff, when i was down there it was alot of bayou white trash people

Delano
02-05-2005, 11:58 PM
So did you wish you had gone to Miami instead DP?

I know white trash is interesting, but comeon.. hot, hot babes?

ChiefsCountry
02-06-2005, 12:00 AM
If I went to the Super Bowl this year I would have stayed in Orlando or Daytona Beach and drove up for the game.

Archie F. Swin
02-06-2005, 06:07 AM
I've seen the chiefs play twice in Jacksonville, and it is absolutley a shit-hole 2nd rate stadium and town all around. I could NOT BELIEVE they gave the SUPERBOWL to such a shithole. IMHO Las Vegas needs to build a 100,000+ seat football stadium where the superbowl is played every year. Say what you want about Vegas, but it is built for that sort of thing.

DT

I think your two syllable summary is a little extreme. The city may be lacking the qualities of a place like Atlanta, but Alltel is not a 2nd rate stadium. It's one of the NFL's finest facilities. Had the chiefs won those games, your opinion would be different.

Spott
02-06-2005, 06:23 AM
I've seen the chiefs play twice in Jacksonville, and it is absolutley a shit-hole 2nd rate stadium and town all around. I could NOT BELIEVE they gave the SUPERBOWL to such a shithole. IMHO Las Vegas needs to build a 100,000+ seat football stadium where the superbowl is played every year. Say what you want about Vegas, but it is built for that sort of thing.

DT

I livin Jax(Orange Park) for 3 years. Most of Jax, except the beach, is kind of a dumpy redneck town. The only thing I can say is that it least it was a lot better than living in Orlando or Miami.

Spott
02-06-2005, 06:28 AM
everyone thinks jax is like miami, hot, hot babes, good beaches and stuff, when i was down there it was alot of bayou white trash people

Miami is the worst city in the state. It's run down, full of the worst drivers and the absolute rudest people in the world. Miami is probably the most over-rated city in the US. If there was anyone there that could speak English, they would tell you that Miami is just a sunny version of New York City.