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SBD Global/January 31, 2014/Events and Attractions
Super Bowl Monday Rings In The Year Of The Horse In Chinese Cities
Published January 31, 2014
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GOOD TIME FOR A PARTY: The NFL’s biggest day has fallen during the week-long Chinese New Year public holiday in China, which is a mixed blessing for viewers. The NFL’s mostly American expatriate fans and its small fan base in China won’t have to take the day off from work. However, China residents, both Chinese and foreign, will use the time off to travel. The NFL continues to make yard-by-yard progress in China. The Home Field program gives university students the chance to play organized flag football in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. This year also featured appearances in China by Joe Montana, and the return of members of the New England Patriots cheerleaders.
HEARTS AND MINDS: NFL China Managing Dir Richard Young, quoting surveys by CSN Research, said, “Percentage-wise, American football is probably the fastest-growing sport in China. We had a 65% growth in our fan base, from 9 million to 14.2 million in China, and that’s a significant bump. When you start to get into 14-15 million, that’s significant. Compared to 1.3 billion, no, it’s not a lot, but it’s still significant. We have about 1 million fans that are avid -- they follow a team and they’re passionate about it.” Young quoted former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of “Crossing the river by feeling the stones." Young said, "Once we get a solid rock, we’ll take the next step.” he said.
THE NEXT STEP: Is that next step an exhibition game?Young said, "It takes time. They played over 15 years of exhibition games in London, and they were in that market far earlier. We don’t want to do anything that we can’t do better the next year. We don’t want to do an event just to say we did an event. We want to make sure the first time people touch and feel the NFL, we want to have a full house with faces painted.” The closest Beijing has come to a full exhibition game similar to the annual event in Tokyo was a cancelled 2007 contest that was “postponed,” but never rescheduled. The NFL has also sought to recruit Chinese players as potential kickers, in order to generate the kind of interest the NBA enjoyed due to the participation of Yao Ming, but none has come close to making the cut. Young said, "Coffee is never going to overtake tea in China. We’re not necessarily looking to overtake the NBA, but are we gaining? We are making significant gains. Last year we held nine events with 30,000 people attending or participating. We were involved in 28 events with 100,000 people this year." Regardless, Chinese fans will see something in the stars for this year’s big game: it just became the Year of the Horse, and the Denver Broncos are playing in the Super Bowl.
Steven Schwankert is a writer in Beijing.
A look at the NFL's global Super Bowl activities:
U.K. -- NFL SuperBash; Primary Sponsors: Budweiser, Pepsi, VISA, Microsoft, Chrysler, Virgin Atlantic, Thomson Sport, Brand USA; Location: Indigo2 @ the O2 Arena; Audience: Sold out audience of 2,000, consisting of NFL UK Sponsors and lottery-winning fans.
MEXICO -- NFL Super Fiestas (Four Events) -- Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Hermosillo; Primary Sponsors: Coors Light, Banorte, VISA, Dodge, SAP, Samsung; Locations: World Trade Center, Andares Terrace, Convex Convention Center, Expo Forum Hermosillo; Audience: Ranges between 500-1,500, consisting of NFL Mexico Sponsors and consumer promotion winners.
CHINA -- NFL Super Bowl Viewing Parties (Two Events) -- Shanghai, Beijing; Primary Sponsors: Budweiser, VISA, Microsoft, United Airlines; Location: Kerry Hotel Shanghai, Kerry Hotel Beijing; Audience: 500-750 per event, consisting of NFL China Sponsors and ticket purchasing fans.
AUSTRALIA -- NFL Super Bowl Viewing Party (in conjunction with ESPN & Foxtel) -- Melbourne; Primary Sponsor: Budweiser; Location: Federation Square; Audience: Anticipated to be 1,500-2,000, free event open to the public (SBD Global).