SBJ/20091116/This Week's News

Pro Bowl, return to Miami alter Super Bowl plan

With the Super Bowl returning to South Florida in 2010 for the second time since 2007 and the Pro Bowl at the same venue a week earlier, league officials sensed they’d need a new blueprint. So, things will be different this time around.

With two games to deal with, the league is trying to spread out sponsor activation, both geographically and over the 10-day period that encompasses both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. Normally held in Hawaii, the Pro Bowl has not been on the U.S. mainland since 1979. The Super Bowl is more routine in Miami.

“Coming back to the same market three years later we needed to change the event calendar so it would be fresh for fans,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.

One of those changes included putting the NFL Experience fan fest into mothballs for a year.

“In our minds, Pro Bowl replaces NFL Experience as a fan engagement opportunity,” Supovitz said. “It’s the first event of Super Bowl week.”

Derrick Brooks talks to children at this year’s
NFL Experience on Jan. 29 in Tampa.

A smaller Game Day Fan Plaza will replace the NFL Experience in the parking lot outside of what is now Land Shark Stadium, but will by then revert to Dolphin Stadium. The fan plaza will be about 30 percent of the size of NFL Experience, which last year was 85,000 square feet. The plaza will have the same kinds of entertainment, and merchandise. It will be open from Wednesday through Sunday before both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. On Pro Bowl Sunday, it will be open to the public, but on Super Bowl Sunday you’ll need a game ticket to get in.

The national NFL flag football championships will be held there on Pro Bowl Sunday. NFL sponsors activating at Game Day Plaza include Sprint, GM, Under Armour, Snickers and Monster.

Without an NFL Experience, the league also has reserved a five-block area on Miami’s South Beach, where it will stage Pepsi’s usual concert series in a temporary stadium that will accommodate about 20,000 people. GM, Coors and Sprint will also have sponsor activation there, while Mars, Sprint and perhaps others will brand entrance gates at Dolphin Stadium.

“We’re still in the middle of a lot of this, but with both events there, we are trying to give sponsors a variety of ways to pay off their sponsorships,” said Tracy Perlman, NFL vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions.

Geographically, things will be more diverse, with some sponsor activation at the stadium, some in South Beach, and league offices in Fort Lauderdale, as opposed to Miami and Miami Beach. Supovitz noted that with a free Pro Bowl practice, the Game Day Plaza, the Pro Bowl itself and a Super Bowl Saturday Night free concert and fireworks event on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, “we will actually be serving more fans with NFL events than we did in 2007.”

The economy was a central story at the last Super Bowl, so the level of corporate hospitality and sponsorship activation will again be closely watched. “With the recession, every sponsor wants more for less, but we’re seeing a lot of interest as long as you can show you are touching all the fans directly,” said Laurie Landgrebe, whose Miami Beach-based L2 Group is selling sponsorships to an “Eats, Beats, and Cleats” fan fest during Super Bowl week.

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