On Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Seattle Seahawks met the Denver Broncos under the lights of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ to play in the most watched television program in U.S. history, Super Bowl XLVIII. While the final score of the game was 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks, the real winner was the New York/New Jersey region, which hosted the Big Game for the first time in its history. In fact, there were many firsts for this Super Bowl: it was the first time a Super Bowl was played outdoors in a cold-weather city; the first in which two U.S. states, New York and New Jersey, shared hosting duties; the first time it was played outdoors on artificial turf since Super Bowl X (1976) at the Miami Orange Bowl; and finally, it was also the first to be played outdoors since Super Bowl XLIV (2010) was played in Miami.
Meridian had been preparing for the event several months in advance, and bracing for a larger-than-normal volume of customers traveling into Teterboro for the Big Game. Measures were put into place by both the FAA and regional airports to help regulate air traffic coming into and out of the area. Teterboro Airport (TEB) for example, instituted a reservation system called a Prior Permission Required (PPR), which required all landings and departures to have a reservation with one of the five airport FBOs from January 29 to February 4. On Game Day itself, a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) was in effect for 30 nautical miles around TEB from 5:00pm through midnight. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is a restriction on an area of airspace due to the movement of government VIPs, special events, natural disasters, or other unusual events.
Super Bowl XLVIII was the most watched television program in U.S. history with 111.5 million viewers, while the halftime show was the most watched ever with 115.3 million viewers tuning in. However, despite the record number viewers at home, the volume of air traffic leaving after the game was unexpectedly light. Betsy Wines, VP Customer Service, surmised, “We were ready for the mass exodus after the game, but it never happened. I think most people decided to stay another night, which helped alleviate the departure schedules. While we were a bit surprised, we were prepared just the same.” Meridian made sure to have additional staff on-hand to handle large crowds returning from the game, and also made special arrangements for crews waiting for their passengers. For example, traditional New York-style catering was brought in, including potato knishes and a Sabrett’s hot dog cart. Gift bags were given out to passengers and crews who left after the game, and best of all, the game was shown in the 2nd floor movie theater for those who wanted to watch their teams play on the big screen.