For a while, it looked like New Jersey's Chris Christie wouldn't get to watch the Super Bowl from the vantage of a luxury box, even though the game will be played in the state where he is governor.
But thanks to an agency he controls, Christie will get access to box seats on Feb. 2 after all.
The four-year-old MetLife Stadium was built with private money, financed by the New York Jets and Giants. But the state of New Jersey owns the land at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, home to Metlife, the Izod Center and the Meadowlands Racetrack.
And that complex is managed by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, the public agency that manages the land under MetLife stadium and also gets some perks for being the landlord. During regular season the Authority and the Governor's office each have use of a luxury box.
Last fall, Christie spokesman Mike Drewniak told the Star-Ledger newspaper the governor would lose his box during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. That's because football stadiums hosting Super Bowls relinquish control of the luxury suites to the NFL, which redistributes the boxes to corporate sponsors and special guests.
"The governor does not have a suite for the Super Bowl," Drewniak told the Star-Ledger. "But he is the governor of New Jersey and a huge sports and NFL fan. I think it’s safe to say that come hell or high water, he’ll be in MetLife Stadium somewhere on game day."
But that doesn’t mean Christie won’t have a box for the Super Bowl. It turns out that he's getting a loaner.
That's because for the Super Bowl, the NFL let the state agency keep its box. And the Authority has decided to turn over its box to the governor's office, according to Wayne Hasenbalg, the Christie-appointed president and CEO of the sports authority.
"We have, you know, a suite. And as part of the consideration for the services we are providing as well as being the landlord for the complex," said Hasenbalg. "We are turning that over to the governor. From there, you know, my job is over."
Who the governor will invite is anyone’s guess. "Again, you’re going to have to talk to the governor’s office about that," Hasenbalg said.
Questions to Christie's office, asking about the governor’s Super Bowl plans and who he would be inviting into his newly-acquired box, went unanswered.
And unlike other governmental entities in other cities that keep lists of visitors to their sports boxes, there’s no record kept by the Sports Authority or the governor’s office as to whom they entertain in those suites.