Jim Kirkos knows all about the economic impact of the Super Bowl that was played at MetLife Stadium 10 years ago this month.
That is, what was predicted and what actually came for business in the area he serves as the head of the Meadowlands Chamber.
Kirkos doesn’t hold back. The economic output for the big game went mostly to New York City — and, more importantly, business in the region will need to be much more proactive in 2026 to take advantage of the World Cup playing eight games here, including the final.
“One of the big things that people gripe about when a big event comes into town is that the expected business doesn’t show up at their doors,” he said. “They end up pooh-poohing the event, and asking, ‘Why are we even doing this?’”
The area needs to take action, Kirkos said.
“It’s about creating awareness,” he said. “I’m going to work with all the neighboring towns, explaining that they can’t expect that, just because World Cup is coming here, that people are just going to walk through their doors. We learned that lesson in the Super Bowl.
“We’ve got to create buzz; we’ve got use marketing to tell people what we have to offer all over North Jersey so they will spend their discretionary dollars here.
“If we want this big economic impact, we have to go after, take control of it and do it ourselves, because it doesn’t just happen all by itself.”
Kirkos said he’ll meet with business leaders one on one — and hold seminars and meetings with experts.
Whatever it takes, Kirkos said.
“I think we have to help communities activate their areas for six weeks of games,” he said.
That process starts with the Meadowlands Chamber itself — which plans to use its headquarters in Lyndhurst as a destination.
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“Our visitors center has an 8×10 Samsung HD video wall — it’s being upgraded this week,” he said. “We’re going to host a watch party for every single game that’s being played here for those who can’t get tickets.
“We want our communities to do the same. We want people going into the sports bars and restaurants. We want outdoor festivals. Creating this buzz around World Cup is how we can capitalize on all the economic impact.”
Kirkos, ever the truth-teller, isn’t afraid to say the obvious: New York City, with all it has to offer, is going to get more of its share of the generated revenue.
That’s OK, he said.
“There’s plenty left over — and it’s my job to help the businesses in the Meadowlands get their share,” he said. “We’re partners with New York City, but I’m working to make sure we get more of our fair share on this side of the river.
“So, I’m going to go out there and motivate our members and our businesses to do what it takes to ramp up the recognition and the awareness of their properties — and not just wait for people to walk through your door.”