It's a geographical fact: The 2014 Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey - not in New York.
One could be forgiven for not realizing that, however, based on the media coverage of the National Football League's decision to hold Super Bowl XLVIII at the new Meadowlands Stadium.
"Greatest city gets greatest sports event," read the cover of the New York Daily News. It's doubtful the headline writers were referring to East Rutherford, just 10 miles from midtown Manhattan but most assuredly in New Jersey.
"Super Bowl XLVIII will be outdoors - in New York!" screamed the inside headline. That prompted several letters to the editor, including one from Bloomfield resident J. Andrew Smith that said: "Earth to New Yorkers: The teams are yours. The stadium is ours."
NFL owners voted last week to award the game to New York/New Jersey, which beat out Tampa and South Florida. Within moments of the announcement, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on the offense as sportscasters gushed over the first Super Bowl to be held "in the New York area."
"Those comments would come from the geographically challenged," Christie said, watching the announcement May 25 at Redd's Restaurant in Carlstadt, the nearest bar to the new stadium.
"I'm looking out that door, and it's New Jersey, and I look where that stadium is, and it's New Jersey, and when everybody gets on the train or in their cars or on buses, they're going to be coming to that game in New Jersey," he said.
Patrons at Redd's, which was packed with television news crews and football fans gathered around the TV sets in hopes of seeing themselves on the news, let out a collective groan when the networks lead with live shots of fan reaction - from Times Square. One newscast made a blink-and-you-miss-it reference to New Jersey at the end of the broadcast, saying, "fans across the river were celebrating the news as well."
"Us New Jerseyans are very sick of everyone always talking about New York, New York, everything happening in New York," said Carlos Echeverry, owner of the Fabulous Stylz barber shop in East Rutherford. "It's unfortunate for the New Yorkers that they don't have a stadium out there, but thank God for New Jersey - we'll have the Super Bowl here."
Meadowlands Stadium, which replaces Giants stadium, is home to the NFL's Giants and Jets, both of which have New York - not New Jersey - in front of their team names. They're the only teams in the league that carry the name of one state but play in another (and, no, you can't count the Kansas City Chiefs, which play in Missouri, not Kansas).
The Super Bowl brouhaha is once again pitting the Garden State against the Big Apple.
They have feuded over ownership of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the birthplace of baseball and, in one of the weirder spats, which state was the source of a mysterious syrupy smell that wafted over New York City several times over the years. The smell ultimately was traced to a factory in New Jersey.
Now, even the NFL brass has been emphasizing New York City's connection to the 2014 Super Bowl.
"We promise the greatest game in the greatest venue in the greatest city," Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said the day after the announcement.
Such comments have not gone unnoticed by New Jersey football fans.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking him "to ensure that the NFL appropriately describes the site of the game as `New Jersey/New York' and not simply `New York."'
"The reality is that the Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey, and the NFL's marketing, promotion, and events should reflect that fact," Lautenberg wrote.
Christie, joking that he'd invited New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sit with him at the game, said: "This is not a competition between us and New York. What this is, though, is New York is going to have to live with the fact that, when the game comes up, they're going to say, `Live from East Rutherford, New Jersey."'