Late night comics have had a field day with the upcoming Jersey Super Bowl, cracking wise at the reputation-challenged Garden State’s expense. Bridgegate has given Dave, Jay, and The Jimmys (Kimmel & especially Fallon-as-Springsteen) even more Jersey comedic material. But one thing the comedians cannot yuk about is the Super Bowl’s greenness. As GSB has documented (here and here), the game at MetLife Stadium will be the greenest Super Bowl yet. But, sadly, a couple of football fields away sits an aesthetic disaster that plays into negative stereotypes of New Jersey that will also be an environmental nightmare. I’m talking about XANADU!
If you’ve ever driven by the Meadowlands Sports Complex, either on the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 3 or Paterson Plank Road, you’ve noticed, alongside MetLife Stadium, the Meadowlands Racetrack and the Izod Center Arena, this monstrosity of a building: Huge, blob-like, oddly horizontal, with bizarrely-colored panels along its seemingly zip code-wide wall. It is the long-stalled, not-yet-open, mall-entertainment center, Xanadu (now being rebranded as “American Dream Meadowlands”). Governor Chris Christie has called it the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.” He also wants it finished and open, post-haste.
Aerial view of Xanadu, with MetLife Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVIII, in the background. An eyesore now, Xanadu will be an environmental catastrophe if/when it opens. (Photo Credit: Mel Evans, AP)
On Wednesday, USA Today posted a long, detailed piece about Xanadu’s (I refuse to call it “American Dream Meadowlands” out of respect for the American Dream) many problems, focused mainly on its “eyesore” and financial mess aspects. GSB, not surprisingly, is concerned, with its numerous environmental challenges, which include:
- A 12-story-high indoor ski slope. You read that right: an indoor ski slope. The only thing more wasteful and obscene from a carbon footprint point of view would be a 24-story indoor ski slope. An indoor wind tunnel to simulate sky diving and a wave machine for indoor surfing, both energy hogs, also will give the middle finger to the environment.
- Opening an energy-sucking mall/entertainment complex in the suburbs (bucking the energy efficient trend of “return to urbanized retail”), accessible mainly by auto, will add to CO2 emissions.
- According to The Sierra Club, the project will be the biggest non-industrial greenhouse gas generator in the state, if not the entire Northeast.
- It will further damage an already important and at risk marsh-land eco-system. Sierra Club’s New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel told USA Today it’s ironic to be “’building a water park on a wetland.”
Governor Christie, who wants to talk about anything besides Bridgegate, would love to see Xanadu completed yesterday and to preside at the ribbon cutting. Not for nothin’, he’s a climate change denier (global warming is an “esoteric theory”) and his administration has ignored the subject completely (nowhere on the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding website do the words climate change, global warming, or sea level rise appear, not even under the site’s “resiliency” section.”) Now, while the governor owns the New Jersey bully pulpit, he is of course dead wrong on climate science–and Xanadu’s highly visible, highly wasteful carbon footprint will, sadly, take his state in the wrong direction. Here’s something for the Governor’s consideration that’s NOT esoteric: Xanadu is certainly an eyesore in its current, partially-built state; actually opening it will be American Nightmare Meadowlands.