Lehigh Valley

Airport hopes to attract Super Bowl visitors in 2014

Airport hopes to attract Super Bowl visitors in 2014

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - The Lehigh Valley's travel industry may need to start thinking about trying to score a big win during Super Bowl XLVIII.

That game will be played more than 90 miles from Allentown -- in New Jersey's Meadowlands sports complex, opposite New York City. And it won't be played for nearly two years -- Feb. 2, 2014.

But members of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority's economic development committee said local airports, hotels, restaurants and others should benefit from spillover business and should begin Super Bowl planning soon.

On Thursday, committee members kicked around ideas ranging from advertising to offering lower rates for landing and parking planes than offered by airports closer to the Meadowlands. It also wants the authority's three airports included in the aviation section of the Super Bowl website, which still is being developed.

"We're working on trying to attract some corporate flights that attend the Super Bowl," said committee chairman Frank Kovacs. In addition to less expensive fees for aircraft that come here, "we are close enough that we can offer limo and hotel packages to the Meadowlands. We've got a lot to offer."

Kovacs said Indianapolis had more than 1,000 private corporate aircraft for the last Super Bowl in February.

Susan Kittle, external affairs director for the airport, reported even Terre Haute's airport had 600 visiting general aviation aircraft because of that Super Bowl.  

"If Terre Haute, 90 miles away for Indianapolis, can get 600 planes, we should do very well with this if we position ourselves," said committee member Robert Buesing. "It's a great opportunity for the Valley."

Buesing said Newark and LaGuardia airports won't take many private planes.

"There's no where to land them or put them," said Buesing, who recommended talking to smaller airports in the N.Y.C. metropolitan area to make sure they know planes they can't take can come to Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Kovacs said the authority's Queen City and Braden airports can also take planes.

Buesing said even blimps coming for the Super Bowl will need places to land.

"They can't park in New York," Buesing said. "There's no room."

Buesing said the committee needs to advise the local visitors bureau that "we need packages, and not only for aviation people."

The local travel industry has not done any planning for the 2014 Super Bowl, said Michael Stershic, president of Discover Lehigh Valley.

"It's almost two years off. We'll start worrying about it a little bit later," Stershic said.

How much business the Lehigh Valley might see, Stershic said, depends on one big February factor: weather. He said another factor is how people look at a map, adding they may fly into other airports. He suggested local airport officials "need to make sure they get their name out there. But we'll work with the airport authority on anything they need."

Buesing, a New York Giants fan, tried to go to this year's Super Bowl  in Indianapolis but "you couldn't find a hotel two hours away."

Local lodging rates are lower than those in New York, but Stershic said New York has many more hotel rooms than Indianapolis.

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