SB volunteers may reach 20,000

MetLife Stadium will become the first venue to host an outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl next year. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

NEW YORK -- The Giants and Jets will have to play their way into Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

You can be a part of it far more easily.

The Super Bowl XLVIII host committee is looking for 20,000 volunteers to help pull off the first Super Bowl in the Big Apple and the first outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl in history.

That's an unprecedented number, according to host committee president and CEO Al Kelly.

"Certainly a record amount by Super Bowl standards, for sure," Kelly said in a phone interview this week. "We haven't even been able to find an event in the tri-state area that had anywhere near that."

That includes the New York City Marathon and the 2004 Republican National Convention, Kelly said.

Volunteers will serve in a variety of roles. Primarily they will be stationed at the three local airports, major train stations, select hotels and even prominent street corners, welcoming people to the area and providing them with information.

"One of the really big and important responsibilities of a host committee is to set up a welcoming environment for visitors and guests who come to our region. And this region is complicated. It's a large geographic footprint," Kelly said. "It'll be this army -- literally an army -- of citizens from our local communities who will be serving as these welcoming hosts."

Volunteers will also be needed to help run Super Bowl Boulevard, the 10-block stretch of Broadway from 34th Street to 44th Street that will be closed to traffic during the week to host a number of NFL-related exhibits and events. And some will be needed at MetLife Stadium on game day.

The recruiting effort is off to a good start. Approximately 12,000 people have already signed up via the host committee's website.

People will have the opportunity to request specific responsibilities, but no one is guaranteed a slot. Each and every prospective volunteer will have to pass a background check, a process that will begin in August or September.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age as of Nov. 1, 2013. And they have to be available to work at least two shifts of 3-4 hours each, in addition to attending at least one training session.

They'll receive a uniform, which they will be allowed to keep. But it remains to be seen what it'll look like -- one more challenge caused by the game being played at a cold-weather site for the first time.

"We're gonna have some volunteers that will be working in very climate-controlled hotel lobbies. You'll have people outside on street corners, and then you're gonna have people who are in transit hubs where, quite frankly, the temperature can fluctuate quite a bit," Kelly said. "The range of things that we have to think through ... besides the fact that uniforming 20,000 people by itself is a fairly daunting task, this just adds to the complication of it. But we'll figure it out."

One thing volunteers won't receive? Tickets to the big game. There simply aren't enough to go around.

But they will be a part of history.

"Super Bowls have been played for almost five decades, and it is incredibly exciting that here at the end of the fifth decade of Super Bowls, that finally the biggest game will be played on the biggest stage," Kelly said. "It'll be hard for the local person to get tickets. It always is, doesn't matter where it's played. And this is just one way of really feeling part of it."

They'll also be helping a larger cause.

"To the degree that we can put on a great show here -- and part of putting on a great show is making people feel welcome, to feel at home -- other big events, maybe even another Super Bowl, could potentially come back to this region."