NYC’s Super Bowl Boulevard vs. Street Vendors

We don’t know about you, but we’re still recovering from Super Bowl weekend! Whether your favorite team won or not, it’s safe to say the weekend was an awesome way to bring in February 2014.

Unfortunately for some of our friends, the street vendors of the city, they probably couldn’t enjoy Super Bowl weekend like the rest of us. It was impossible to miss the 13-block “Super Bowl Boulevard”, stretching down Broadway. While it was a huge hit for many, our street vendor friends were left out of the huge celebration.

“Super Bowl Boulevard” had just about everything you could need for a proper corporate takeover — huge corporate tents, football-themed games, video projection shows and even a toboggan ride (if you were patient enough to wade through the crowd). Wading through the thickness, you probably spotted a fast food company handing out hot coffee or pizza for football revelers to keep warm and full.

We can understand the NFL and the city with grand plans to promote this year’s Super Bowl, especially when it’s the first time the Super Bowl was hosted in a cold city and New York/New Jersey shared hosting duties. We have no doubt the excitement was real, with real opportunities for fans to forget about the miserable weather, and experience the Super Bowl beyond MetLife Stadium. With the expectation of a huge amount of traffic joining in the fun, businesses stood to benefit — and benefit big.

Photo via: DNAinfo New York

Photo via: DNAinfo New York

Here at Fiestah, we really care for the people we represent — many of whom are street vendors themselves. Checking in with Urban Justice, we can’t believe our vendor friends were only notified of relocation the week of the Super Bowl extravaganza, leaving them no choice but to protest this move. The planning portion of such an intricate event would have taken more than just a week, which would have provided the Times Square Alliance + NFL combo ample time to approach vendors. Instead, last Wednesday night saw NYPD officers ticketing vendors and removing them from prime locations along the 13 block stretch.

This was the perfect opportunity for huge corporations and street vendors to come together to provide a unique experience. If corporations had a big hand in this street celebration, shouldn’t the vendors have a shot too? Instead, vendors saw themselves evicted not only from their normal spots, but also from wherever they setup shop during the weekend.

This is why we stand with The Street Vendor Project, where they work to correct social and economic injustice that our hard working vendor friends have to face everyday. They also engage in systematic advocacy to help policy makers and the public comprehend the importance of street vendors, and how they also improve our lived experience in the city. We hope you do too. Those in charge should be held accountable, so that this doesn’t happen again. These street vendors aren’t a nuisance, they’re family.

The street vendors, food trucks and small businesses make our city. Some feed us, some entertain us, some remind us of the pure and true quality of the little things. We owe it to them to ensure they can continue to serve us while earning an honest living.

Unlike football, our city’s economic game doesn’t need a loser. If one team wins, we should all win too.

Sound off below: do you think cutting off street vendors was a justified move by Super Bowl organizers? Let us know what you think!

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