EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After nearly four years of speculation and consternation about a Super Bowl played outdoors in the Northeast, unseasonably warm temperatures settled over MetLife Stadium on Sunday as fans watched the NFL title game in sweatshirts and light winter wear amid a jubilant atmosphere.
The temperature was 49 degrees at kickoff for the first Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather city. Players in shorts warmed up on the field and TV commentators mingled in their sport coats.
Through the first three quarter, Seattle fans had plenty to cheer about and broke out in spontaneous chants as the Seahawks raced to a seemingly insurmountable 28-point lead.
“This is amazing,” said Molly Boyle, 27, a Seattle fan who lives in New York City. “I couldn’t wish for a better ending for our team.”
Meanwhile, Denver Broncos fans were sulking. Justin Mitchell, 26, a construction salesman from Colorado Springs, Co., put it simply: “I’m depressed,” he said. “But I’m at the Super Bowl.”
He tried to find a silver lining, optimistically playing up the experience of seeing a Super Bowl with his two brothers and dad.
“Just being here with my family is pretty sweet,” he said. “The experience as a whole has been amazing.”
While the commute from the stadium was still up in the air, getting to MetLife Stadium was relatively pain free for most travelers.
Nearly 28,000 people crammed onto New Jersey Transit’s trains, setting a ridership record that easily surpassed the previous mark of 22,000 in 2009 for a U2 concert. Security was slow at train stations, but by 5:15 p.m., a little more than an hour before kickoff, 80,000 folks had already made it into the stadium. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said it was the earliest arriving Super Bowl crowd in at least 30 years.
New Jersey police said four people were arrested during the game, including two arrests for unlicensed vendors, one for drunken disorderly conduct and one for trespassing.
The celebratory mood carried over the nearby Hudson River and onto the streets of New York City, where Seahawks fans were cheering and dancing around the Blarney Rock Pub in midtown Manhattan as the game blared from several television screens. Amanda Schmidt, 37, said she flew in from Seattle to cheer on her hometown team.
“I wanted to be in the city and experience the Super Bowl,” she said. “I feel like I’m part of it. We’re all connected, so it’s really cool.”
The 13-block-long Super Bowl Boulevard that ran through Times Square was already almost entirely gone by halftime. Flatbed trucks and forklifts were dismantling the booths and television sets for television networks. The toboggan run was gone, along with the many corporate-sponsored tents that had lined the streets.
Earlier Sunday evening, the only minor disruption for commuting fans came at Secaucus Junction, the start of NJ Transit’s 6.8-mile line to the stadium in East Rutherford, where they had to pass through a security checkpoint manned by TSA agents.
Emergency medical personnel told The Associated Press that they had to treat several people who collapsed when the station became overcrowded. Lines began moving again after a little more than an hour of delays.
“It was kind of a bottleneck,” NJ Transit spokesman William Smith said. “A number of trains arrived at once.”
Alex Wilson-Haid, 20, and Mitchell McComb of Yelm, Wash., were both dressed for the moderate temperatures, and both found some good luck.
“Both Denver and Seattle are cold-weather cities so the fans are prepared,” Wilson-Haid said. “They have all the gear to watch the game and it’s not even that cold.”
The two somehow got onto the grounds of the Meadowlands sports complex without tickets. Authorities had said tickets were needed to get on the grounds.
Within 15 minutes of talking to The Associated Press, they returned with two tickets, with a face value of $1,000 apiece.
“We got them for $500 (total),” McComb said. “There are nice people in this world.”
Jake Anderson, 22, a college senior at the University of Northern Colorado, was wearing a Peyton Manning jersey and a Super Bowl hat. He said he had an accounting test on Thursday he hadn’t studied for and didn’t expect to pass.
“This is going to be worth the F I get on Thursday,” he said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. You have to drop everything and do it.”
Andy Weinstein, who works for a bottling company in Seattle, was wearing a bright neon green costume with a Seahawks jersey over it.
“I feel like if I’m flying cross-country for this, I might as well look ridiculous,” he said. “I’m wearing this for this game, for my team.”
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