NEWARK — At 5:30 a.m., the city hosting Super Bowl Media Day was yawning to life, trying to shake the single-digit temps and double-digit wind gusts that quivered the road signs.
Newark was going to work. At Broad and Market, the buses came and went, from Jersey City to the Oranges, from Elizabeth, up Bloomfield Avenue. People huddled for warmth in the Bank of America vestibule, or the Halal grill across the street.
To them, it wasn’t Super Bowl Media Day. It was just another Tuesday.
"I like baseball," said Pedro Dominquez, heading to a restaurant job on Mount Prospect Avenue. "I don’t know much about football."
Outside Newark’s Prudential Center, Mulberry Street was closed and two firetruck-sized police command centers had the lights going, the blue and red alternating beams punching through the pre-dawn sky.
Above them, The Rock’s big screen, which faces east toward Penn Station and glass-office towers of the Gateway Center, was lit up in the blue hues of the Super Bowl XLVII logo, the one in which the backdrop is the New York City skyline. Across the street, a dozen new Newark Police SUVs were parked, angled face out, shining like they just came out of a showroom.
This was the Newark about 1,500 members of the national sports and entertainment media would see from the windows of the charter buses bringing them in from Manhattan by 9 a.m. They would disembark, dragging cameras and laptops into the arena.
None would venture to the west side of the Prudential Center, to Broad Street, where another Newark begins.
"We are like a different city," said Kassim Mohammed, working at the Royal deli, which is open 24 hours and sits diagonally from the Joe’s Crab Shack at the Courtyard by Marriott, which backs up the arena’s parking garage. From his front window, he could see the media bus drop off.
"The only time I get anybody from a game, a concert, the circus, anything, is by accident," he said, as city sanitation trucks loaded up outside his door. "I think the reputation of Newark scares them away."
On Broad Street, there was no hint of Media Day, or the Super Bowl. There is no NFL shop, like the one in Macy’s on Herald Square. There are no street banners, like the ones that line the main thoroughfares of Manhattan.
This was not lost — or unexpected — by the people on Broad Street early Tuesday morning.
"This is like a dead zone to them. It doesn’t exist," said Kenny Kirby, waiting for the NJ Transit bus to take him to his job as East Orange General.
The "them" in that sentence applies to many entities. This year it’s the NFL. Three years ago it was the NCAA, which also had no presence on Broad Street during the regional final.
Kirby’s weekend job is street merchant. He has a stand on Broad Street where he selling oils, incense and T-shirts.
"Nobody comes up from The Rock," he said. "Maybe every once in a while. So while this is good exposure for the city, it doesn’t do much for the real people."
Dwayne Jenkins, too, wished some of the arena customers ventured the 100 yards west to Broad Street. He was waiting for the No. 13 bus to take him to Belleville, where he works for a defense contractor.
"It should help the whole downtown, but it doesn’t," he said. "People here can’t even a get a job in their own city."
The scene on the arena floor featured foreign broadcasters dressed as Mozart and Waldo, as in Where’s, and a couple sportscasters from Denver done up in blue and orange. It was a crush of microphones and cameras; of stand-up interviews with players and former players; and the guys who make a living talking sports on TV.
The NFL served food to the news media in the Devils’ practice area, and during the lag time between Broncos’ exit and the Seahawks’ arrival, the entire surface was packed. From the windows, you could see the Broad Street food joints, empty except for locals, 50 yards away.
No one ventured out.
At the corner of Broad and Lafayette at lunctime, Melissa Perryman stood on the corner, dressed in her bright yellow "Newark Downtown" jacket, handing out brochures for that tourism bureau. The only people coming from the arena were the Newark Tech cheerleaders, hurrying past in the cold, in the black-and-purple uniforms.
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Tags: mark di ionno columnist super bowl media fest just another day in downtown newark
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