Blocked party: NFL bars host town from using 'Super Bowl' name

Super Bowl XLVIII's hometown has a rude guest.

The sports world is converging on East Rutherford (pop. 8,978) for Sunday's game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, and all the town wanted to do was have a little block party for locals not rich or lucky enough to have tickets.

The NFL can't stop the party, but they did bar East Rutherford from using the phrase "Super Bowl" in any description of the humble event, set to take place Sunday afternoon in the shadow of the town's most famous building, MetLife Stadium.


“Do I feel snubbed?” Mayor James Casella replied when asked by if he thought it was fair. “This is the way it has always been, I never expect more.”

So Sunday's event, at which main drag Park Avenue will be blocked off, live bands will play and local restaurants will serve up food and drink in the open air, will be dubbed “The Meadowlands Tailgate Party Live from East Rutherford.” The town's website trumpets a "Game Day Tailgate."

As long as they don't dare utter "Super Bowl" in conjunction with the event, or use any logos associated with the NFL or the game, they won't get a visit from high-powered lawyers sent from NFL headquarters on Manhattan's Park Avenue. The NFL has had a long standing policy which bars unauthorized use of its intellectual property and is known to go after those who violate it with a vengeance in court.

For New Jersey football fans, it's just the latest indignity from the league. Two NFL teams, the Giants and the Jets, play at MetLife, yet call themselves "New York" teams.

“I think it's an absolute disgrace,” Michael Hildebrandt, 34, a lifelong resident of the borough told “It’s a total smack in the face of the borough of East Rutherford and their citizens.”

Casella also noted the NFL named towns including Montclair and Hope, 11 and 58 miles respectively from the field where the game will be played, as “host communities” while East Rutherford was never considered. The league holds official events at designated host communities, including officially sanctioned parties where the words "Super Bowl" don't draw a penalty flag..

“I don’t blame them. It’s their [NFL] brand,” Ron Simoncini, an organizer of the Tailgate Party said to “But in East Rutherford’s case, I would have expected that the host committee would have gone out of their way to cultivate relations. But they haven’t.”

Simoncini  said the NFL and its Super Bowl Host Committee even reneged on a deal to provide banners for towns in the area.

“East Rutherford had even installed the brackets [to hoist the banners], but they were simply never delivered," Simoncini said. "The town wasn’t even contacted about them not showing up.

“They’ve [NFL] embittered a region,” he said. “This is a culture clash and unfortunately, sometimes people just can’t get along.”

Even without help from the NFL, East Rutherford is doing what it can to cash in on a once in a lifetime event. With tailgating outside of MetLife Stadium banned, the town's block party will offer the closest pre-game festivities.

Casella took it upon himself to have a sign installed at the train station in town boasting East Rutherford status as the “Home of the Super Bowl.”

The NFL responded to queries with a statement outlining its policy about towns like East Rutherford and what it is presumably allowed to refer to as "the really big game."

"In order to best control the use of our [trade]marks in connection with the Super Bowl, we do not allow host cities to use the Super Bowl marks for commercial purposes (e.g. sponsored SB events, parties)," the statement read. "It is part of our general control of trademark usage and our desire to protect messaging around the game and avoid conflicts."

Organizers for East Rutherford's party say they don't need the NFL's permission to put on a party.

“At the end of the day, the event will be a success,” Simoncini boasted. “We do not need the name; everyone knows why it’s being held. Everyone knows what they are there for.”