SBJ/January 21-27, 2013/Events and Attractions

It will take a village to host a Super Bowl

Starting with next week’s affair in New Orleans, the NFL will require all Super Bowl host cities to offer a themed, downtown-like village as a destination that can be branded Super Bowl Boulevard.

After the success of last year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, an event that won rave reviews for its compact, themed city center — replete with Olympic Village-like attractions and a zip line — the league has decided that all future hosts must plan for something similar.

New Orleans’ Super Bowl village will be centered at Woldenberg Park and display the game’s giant Roman numerals similar to how Indianapolis did last year (below).
Photos by: GETTY IMAGES
“What we learned from Indianapolis is, a compact footprint is ideal for a host city,” said Jay Cicero, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which is acting as the host committee for this year’s game. “We have created something this year, along with the NFL, that will carry on every Super Bowl after this.”

The NFL declined to comment. Super Bowl XLVII is Feb. 3.

Despite the branded name, Super Bowl Boulevard, the designated area does not necessarily need to be in city streets, as it was last year in Indianapolis. New Orleans, for
example, will stage its Boulevard over 800,000 square feet in Woldenberg Park, along the Mississippi River. Visible from the park will be the giant Roman numerals XLVII floating on a barge in the Mississippi River — lit up by LEDs showing NFL Films video — similar to the illuminated XLVI in downtown Indianapolis for last year’s game. Festival Productions, which stages New Orleans’ famed jazz festival, will operate this year’s Boulevard.

“It is going to vary for each city,” Cicero said. “You want to emphasize a blend of the NFL, Super Bowl and the culture of that city. For us, it is music and food.”

Jim Steeg, who ran Super Bowls for the NFL before departing the league in 2004, said there had been efforts before Indianapolis to create village-like areas, going as far back as the 1982 Super Bowl in Pontiac, Mich., which branded a staged area Bourbon Street North. “I am all for making it a better experience for the fans instead of having them kind of freelance,” he said.

The Super Bowl Boulevard concept also opens a new sponsorship platform. Verizon is sponsoring the New Orleans area, making it officially the Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard. The area will be home to the NFL Network set, four music stages and 15 New Orleans food booths, Cicero said.

Like last year’s setup, the area will be free to enter. At the Olympics, which have led the way with these types of themed-entertainment villages for fans, a ticket is needed.

Olympic Park has been a place for fans to congregate and is near the venues, but because the Olympic Park only admits people with tickets to events, some Olympic cities have begun setting up sites for non-ticketed people. In London, for example, organizers had a site in Hyde Park with its own merchandise store, a showcase built by Sochi 2014 and a stage with free concerts.

Staff writer Tripp Mickle contributed to this report.

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