By Tom Semioli
Sports fans, how would you like to initiate a vein bulging, fist wielding, high blood pressure inducing debate in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or Staten Island, or in such surrounding regions as Westchester and Long Island? It’s easy. Simply refer to the Super Bowl XLVI champion Giants as Jersey’s team. In my lifetime, the Garden State has existed primarily as the Big Apple’s punchline and punching bag. Google “New Jersey jokes,” sit back and let your browser runneth over. Moving to New Jersey is equated by many
New Yorkers as outright punishment. Can anyone forget the merciless George Steinbrenner and his countless threats to uproot the beloved Yankees to NJ as an act of vengeance, more so than leverage, lest we the people agreed to finance the new and improved Yankee Stadium?
Don’t look now, New York City – but the metropolis of your dreams is happening west of the Hudson River. What was once the domain of iconic artists – from Allan Ginsberg to Alvin Ailey to Patti Smith to Keith Haring to Gil Scott Heron and scores of others, has devolved into a suburban like sprawl of shopping centers, frat-boy bars, pretentious boutiques, designer bohemia and luxury residences. New Jersey is the new cool. Just ask Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, or the multitude of rockers, rap stars, athletes, writers, actors, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, dentists, and business folk who call Jersey home.
Been to Broadway lately? Among the top grossing plays is…Jersey Boys. Is Jersey Shore any less ridiculous or less representative of its environs, than say, Sex In The City or Friends? The King of New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen, has instantly sold out his gigs at Harlem’s hallowed Apollo Theater, and the World’s Most Self-Important Arena, Madison Square Garden for his 2012 tour with the E Street Band (named after a road that intersects 10th Avenue in Belmar, New Jersey).
In sports, we live and die by statistics. In America we are obsessed by numbers from the 1% to the 99%. As American Sports Fans, let’s review a few simple facts about New Jersey’s rightful ownership of the Giants:
-- In 1976 the Giants moved from Yankee Stadium (with a brief stop at the Yale Bowl in Connecticut the previous year) to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey – which is 13 miles west of Manhattan.
-- In 2010 the Giants moved to Met Life Stadium, also in East Rutherford, New Jersey – which is still, oddly enough, 13 miles west of Manhattan.
-- Met Life Stadium is owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority – a public entity financed by the taxpayers of the great state of…New Jersey.
-- The Giants’ team offices and training facility – The Timex Performance Center, are located in…. New Jersey.
-- None of the vendors which service the Times Performance Center (such as Pellerin Milner Corporation for washers and dryers, Mondo Flooring, Lithonia Lighting, etc.) are headquartered New York. Their satellite offices in New York to do not directly service the Giants.
-- Since 2001, over 50% of Giants’ season ticket holders reside in …. New Jersey.
-- In February 2012, the city of East Rutherford, New Jersey, contends that the Giants owe $1.5 million dollars in property taxes on their Garden State training facility. The Giants counter that they are exempt thanks to a deal with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. This matter will soon be settled in court in….Bergen County, New Jersey by local judges, local jurors, and of course, lawyers who are licensed to practice in the state of…New Jersey.
In January 1987, then NYC Mayor Ed Koch rightfully refused to grant a permit for the Giants first Super Bowl victory parade in Manhattan, boldly proclaiming “if they want a parade, let them march in front of the oil drums of Moonachie!” I recall Hizzoner going as far as to either enact or consider legal action against the Giants to remove “New York” from their name – however the laws which govern such issues say that privately owned businesses can all themselves whatever they wish. I guess Mitt the Hoople is correct; corporations are people my friend!
It’s hard for me to suppress my laughter when my hard-nosed New York colleagues instantly assume the guise of New Age spiritualists when confronted with the reality that team belongs to New Jersey– opining that the Giants embody the “aura” of New York – or that the Giants’ city designation represents the New York “area.” Nonsense! Mention to a Queens or a Brooklyn lifer that their glorious boroughs are physically located on Long Island and you are flirting with death – at the very least. To paraphrase Bronx born Billy Joel (an artist reviled by New York City dwellers – as the Piano Man made his bones on ugh, “suburban” Long Island) – New York is a state of mind.
But New Jersey is the state wherein the Giants reside, and are supposed to pay all their taxes. That is the state of reality! New Yorkers, in general, consider themselves to be the world’s greatest, most erudite, intellectual, progressive minded citizens from bell hop to bass player to Wall Street banker. Prove it. Rethink those orders for Giants commemorative Super Bowl NY license plates and respectfully acknowledge that the Giants are New Jersey just as the 49ers are San Francisco just as the Bruins are Boston and so on.
It’s okay to root for a team from New Jersey. Or Dallas. Or Philadelphia. However if you insist on rooting for a New York based NFL team – you have one choice New York sports fan: the Buffalo Bills.