The National Football League crowned its 2014 champion Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing,” the Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday, February 23 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Attending any professional sporting event can be an expensive proposition, but a comparison of the two shows that NASCAR fans have little to grouse about when compared to their pigskin-loving cousins.
|Don't drive, don't walk...|
At Sunday’s Super Bowl, fans were not allowed to take cabs or limousines to the game, or walk to the stadium. Those who wished to drive their personal cars could do so, but only after purchasing a $150 “car pass.” Thousands of fans spent $51 per person to ride NFL-approved shuttle buses to the game, parking their personal vehicles at one of nine designated pickup locations in the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area and traveling by shuttle to the New Jersey Meadowlands and Met Life Stadium. There was also a series of New Jersey Transit shuttle buses to ferry fans to and from Secaucus, N.J.
Reviews for both bus services were less than glowing, with reports of overcrowding and long delays.
By contrast, fans will arrive at this month’s Daytona 500 in their personal vehicles, taxi cabs or buses as part of organized tours. Many fans also choose to walk to the speedway from area hotels. Reserved parking on speedway grounds ranges in price from $20 for preliminary events to $45 for the Daytona 500 itself. A weeklong parking pass may be purchased for $100.
Tailgating was strictly forbidden at Sunday’s Super Bowl, unless patrons were willing to do their pre-game partying inside their respective vehicles. In NASCAR, tailgating is not only allowed, it is a way of life. Fans traditionally begin arriving for the Daytona 500 well before dawn, assembling a veritable Tent City of awnings, lawn chairs and barbeque grills in preparation for the Great American Race.
Why is there such a disparity between the two sports?
|Buy lunch, or bring your own...|
The National Football League initially cited "logistical concerns" as justification for its strident Super Bowl travel restrictions, despite the fact that MetLife Stadium has hosted NFL games for both the New York Giants and New York Jets since the stadium opened in 2010. Prior to that, those same two teams competed 20 times each season at Giants Stadium, also located in the New Jersey Meadowlands. With a seating capacity of 82,500 fans, local officials are well-versed in moving large volumes of fans in and out of Met Life Stadium, and were certainly capable of handling the traffic generated by Sunday night’s Big Game.
After some initial criticism, the league did an abrupt about-face last week, blaming "security concerns" for their travel restrictions. Despite that assertion, no league spokesperson was ever able to explain how security was heightened by charging fans $150 for the privilege of driving their own cars.
Differences between Super Bowl XLVIII and the Daytona 500 do not end at the stadium gates.
Sunday at Met Life Stadium, a bottle of domestic beer set fans back a whopping $12, with a can of “premium beer” priced at $14. At this month’s Daytona 500, the same can o’ suds will cost $8.
A 12-ounce soft drink went for $6 Sunday, at least twice what it will cost at the Daytona 500. A cup of hot chocolate (arguably a survival ration on a 30-degree day in New Jersey) was priced at $11, while the same hot chocolate in a commemorative Super Bowl XLVIII logo mug set fans back a cool $20.
Hungry? A cheesesteak sandwich at yesterday’s game was priced at $16. A meatball sub, roast pork sandwich or foot-long hot dog were each $13, while a sausage sandwich was yours for just 14 bucks. While a rundown of concession stand pricing for this year’s Daytona 500 was not immediately available, this writer, a veteran (if not always enthusiastic) consumer of speedway fare -- cannot recall any food item at the World Center of Racing priced at more than seven bucks.
If those prices still seem beyond reach, fear not. NASCAR fans are allowed to bring their own food and drinks to the track. Not a bad deal, especially when compared to the Cash Cow that was Super Bowl XLVIII.