SBD/January 30, 2014/Events and Attractions

Cold Weather Doesn't Keep Fans Away From Opening Of Super Bowl Boulevard

Fans flocked to Souper Bowl Boulevard's Toboggan run
Thousands of fans yesterday "braved the freezing weather to stand in long lines" as the NFL's Super Bowl Boulevard opened in Manhattan, according to Kari Plog of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. The area contains the "most affordable part of the Super Bowl festivities," including the toboggan run "built on the corner of 41st and Broadway in the iconic" Times Square area of N.Y. Fans yesterday "took pictures with the Lombardi Trophy, got autographs from NFL players and watched a live NFL Network broadcast." Event organizers built goalposts "in the middle of the street so passersby could experience the pressure of kicking a field goal in front of a gazing crowd" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 1/30). In N.Y., Barron & Santora report people were "bundled up watching football highlights shown on the Macy’s storefront at Herald Square, posing for pictures with 20-foot-tall Super Bowl XLVIII Roman numerals and running through a tunnel set up to recreate the experience of a player as he bursts out onto the field" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/30). ESPN's Trey Wingo said of Super Bowl Boulevard, “The fans are disagreeing with any notion that there is a better place to be than here right now” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 1/29). In Hartford, Paul Doyle notes Times Square has "become the center of the NFL's fan activities, so it's a vital part of the league's marketing pitch" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/30).

GET THE SLED OUT: In Newark, Ronni Reich notes spectators "spilled over the outlines of a concrete island, holding up cameras, phones and tablets to capture a glimpse" of the Lombardi Trophy. While sidewalks "were clogged and lines long for autographs and other events," the toboggan ride may have been "the most spectacular attraction." Reich: "You could hear the screams as soon as you could see the 60-foot-tall, 180-foot-long, 8-lane run" (NJ.com, 1/29). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jennifer Weiss noted the "massive eight-lane slope on the section of Broadway re-christened Super Bowl Boulevard drew long lines late Wednesday afternoon" (WSJ.com, 1/29). In Toronto, Daniel Dale writes N.Y. "is not falling over itself to embrace a Super Bowl being played in New Jersey," but it is "not snobbily ignoring the festivities either." Once you "got past the theatre touts and entered the carnival, there was indisputable evidence of the genuine irrational enthusiasm that fuels the NFL profit machine" (TORONTO STAR, 1/30). CBS' David Letterman said in his monologue last night, "The NFL has taken over Times Square. ... They’ve got a rodeo, they’ve got a petting zoo, they’ve got a whoopty-do, they’ve got a toboggan ride. So if you’re looking for a hooker, now you’ve got to go over to the United Nations” (“Late Show,” CBS, 1/29).

NOT ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE? SNY’s Rich Davis asked of the festivities surrounding the Super Bowl, “Is it just me or is this Super Bowl in New York thing a possible bust? Look how cold everybody looks. Everyone looks miserable.” SNY’s Steve Covino said, “It’s outside. Nothing is fun in the snow unless you’re building an igloo or skiing.” Davis: “All the things you are seeing in Times Square, in other cities -- these are things that are happening indoors at convention centers.” Covino: “So far, the vibe is a dud” (“Covino & Rich,” SNY, 1/29).

COLD SHOULDER? In Newark, Stacy Jones noted as "game day nears, several towns and organizers" in New Jersey "say they had to dramatically scale back or cancel their events." Officials and event planners in Newark, Montclair, Hackensack and East Rutherford said that securing "private sponsor dollars has been almost impossible" and the NFL, with its "many levels of leadership, has been difficult to work with." Even plans to "treat 350 bus drivers to dinner and a show at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst on game day, initiated by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee itself, fell through when organizers stopped returning the restaurant’s calls." But the NFL "says it hasn't ignored New Jersey." League VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that the NFL "has numerous events in New Jersey this week, including Media Day Tuesday in Newark, and game day parties at the Izod Center and Meadowlands Racetrack" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/29).
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