SBJ/Jan. 20-26, 2014/Super Bowl

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  • Menu all about comfort foods

    Delaware North Sportservice has fed fans for 99 years, but the venues it serves have never been the site of a Super Bowl.

    That all changes this year for the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, where the concessionaire runs the food and retail.

    “We’ve done just about every big event at the Meadowlands, but this is the biggest event in the world and the biggest in Super Bowl history as far as we’re concerned,” said Bill Lohr, Sportservice’s on-site general manager, who has spent 22 years in the industry, four of them with Sportservice. “We’re
    excited because it’s Delaware North’s first Super Bowl.”

    To make a strong impression on the NFL and the 82,000-plus guests attending the game, Sportservice’s food operation for the first outdoor Super Bowl in a winter climate is skewed toward comfort foods and a hot-beverage program ranking among the most extensive in sports.

    Sportservice will serve hot chocolate, coffee, tea and cider to help keep fans warm during the Feb. 2 game, as well as liquor drinks such as the Siberian Winter Toddy, a concoction of rum,
    Seafood combo (top), shrimp and corned beef will be among the offerings at the Super Bowl.
    apple cider and cinnamon.

    Those hot drinks, plus soup, chili and some pasta dishes, will be served in official Super Bowl souvenir cups carrying the slogan “Don’t Be Left Inside.” The container design also features “big fat handles” for fans wearing gloves to grab hold of, helping them to eat while on the go.

    “With this being a cold-weather city, we went a little further with this program than a typical Super Bowl,” said Marcus Sneed, Sportservice’s director of operations at MetLife Stadium.

    The vendor will have special trucks set up outside the stadium to provide additional hot water to concession stands and other food locations to meet the needs of 10,000 to 20,000 credentialed media as well as the fans.

    Projected totals

    HOT DOGS: 21,500
    SAUSAGES: 20,000
    PIZZA: 7,500 individual pizzas in concessions, 5,000 slices in concession clubs
    HOT CHOCOLATE/COFFEE: 50,000 10-ounce cups
    PRETZELS: 12,000
    SODA: More than 30,000 bottles or fountain drinks
    MEATBALLS: 20,000
    MARINARA SAUCE: 500 gallons
    Source: Delaware North Cos.

    Fans can still buy beer and soda, although draft lines tend to freeze in ultra-cold weather. If that occurs, Sportservice will go exclusively with aluminum and plastic bottles.

    New concession items for the Super Bowl include a hot corned beef hoagie, Sportservice’s take on the famed Carnegie Deli sandwiches, and a hot chicken wing bar, said Eric Borgia, MetLife Stadium’s executive chef.

    Including retail, Sportservice will deploy about 3,000 employees for the Super Bowl, 900 more than a typical New York Jets or Giants game at the venue. On the food side, there will be about 75 more points of sale, most of them tied to the Gameday Fan Plaza outside the venue.

    In a strong union market, Sportservice will use concession workers from Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Barclays Center to supplement its own workforce, Lohr said. About 15 nonprofit groups that already work MetLife Stadium also will be on hand.

    “We needed to hire more people in the premium areas, runners, and suite attendants and servers,” Lohr said.
    In addition, Sportservice is bringing in about 65 managers from its NFL and MLB accounts and from the company’s corporate office in Buffalo. Eight people will come from Red Bull Arena, a Sportservice client in nearby Harrison, N.J.

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  • Future hosts get a jump on preparation, PR

    Everyone knows Arizona is a great place to visit, but the desert is a pretty good place to do business too. That’s the message Jay Parry, CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, hopes to start spreading when she heads to this year’s Super Bowl next week.

    Parry will be touting Arizona’s business community during Super Bowl week.
    Parry and eight of her staff members will observe the operations of the nearly weeklong New York/New Jersey spectacle to see what might work and what might not work as they prepare to host Super Bowl XLIX a year from now. But the larger goal for Parry, beyond staging the country’s most visible sporting event, is to create a long-term business legacy for Arizona.

    “We will use the platform to tell the new story of Arizona: We are progressive, inclusive, and we are ready and open for business,” said Parry, who most recently was senior vice president of brand and business development for the Phoenix Suns. She also spent seven seasons as president and COO of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. “One of the biggest stories we want to tell on behalf of our stakeholders,” Parry said, “is that we have room to grow.”

    Those stakeholders include the communities that neighbor Glendale, Ariz., site of University of Phoenix Stadium, where the game will be played. These communities, such as Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, have each contributed funds to the committee in exchange for, among other considerations, having their respective hotels included in the game’s official room block. Other partners include the Santa Cruz Valley-based Ak-Chin Indian Community, which hopes its sponsorship of next year’s game has a long-term payoff as well.

    “The Super Bowl will be the market’s first post-recession mega-event,” Parry said, “so our job is to position our partners to benefit from a post-Super Bowl comet-tail effect.”

    Arizona last hosted the Super Bowl in 2008.

    During next week’s site visit, Parry said her team will be taking a close look at how their New York/New Jersey counterparts are implementing Business Connect, the NFL initiative that helps small and minority business owners in NFL markets get league-related business. Next week also will see Arizona spotlighted through two committee-produced spots — one 30 seconds in length, one 15 seconds — that will appear on video boards in Times Square as part of the NFL’s continuous advertising loop related to this year’s game. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the group will host an invitation-only media event to begin to tell, and sell, their local story.

    Parry is charged with promoting a region, rather than just a city, because similar to this year’s Super Bowl footprint, Arizona’s game will be spread across more than one locale. While the game will be in Glendale, Phoenix (which is about 15 miles away) will host the NFL Experience, the sprawling interactive theme park that has become a staple at the event. (NFL Experience is missing from this year’s Super Bowl lineup but it is scheduled to return next year.) Phoenix also will host the league’s Super Bowl Boulevard effort and will be the site for the media center headquarters for the more than 5,000 credentialed reporters, photographers and commentators who cover the game.

    Parry said next week’s trip will cost “a couple hundred thousand dollars” and that the committee’s overall budget to successfully stage the game and promote the region will top $25 million. By comparison, the New York/New Jersey group is spending $70 million for this year’s Super Bowl, the most ever for the event. Last year’s game in New Orleans cost about $12 million locally. Those costs are specific to the host committee’s efforts. The NFL operates the Super Bowl game itself and covers the majority of the game-day costs.

    Arizona won’t be the only future Super Bowl host present in New York for this year’s game. Keith Bruce, CEO of the Super Bowl L host committee in Santa Clara, Calif., will be on hand, as well.

    California hosted 10 of the first 32 Super Bowls but has been shut out since 2003. The debut of the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium is months away, and the footprint for the 2016 Super Bowl is still preliminary, so the goal for Bruce and the four to six people he is taking with him to this year’s game is to observe and to come away with what he called “the institutional knowledge” needed to stage the game. Although the committee will not be doing any marketing while in New York and New Jersey, Bruce’s eventual strategy is to tout the history of the game itself as well as the massive Bay Area.

    “We’re hosting the golden anniversary of the game, in the Golden State, so we are so honored to be hosting such a significant event,” he said. “Secondly, this is a Bay Area regional event, so we’ll be selling the whole region: North Bay, South Bay, East Bay, San Francisco, Monterrey peninsula, the Silicon Valley, wine country — they’re all part of our personality.”

    Sallie Sargent, executive director of Houston’s 2017 host committee, will lead a group of eight municipal, stadium and convention center executives to the Meadowlands as representatives of that future Super Bowl. Sargent noted the production of the game and its ancillary events, as well as the city of Houston itself, have changed considerably since the city last hosted the Super Bowl, in 2004.

    For example: The city has branded a 35-block downtown area as Super Bowl El Centro. Within that footprint, the George R. Brown Convention Center will be the site of the NFL Experience and media center (as it was in 2004), but across the street, Discovery Green, a 12-acre public park, will host the city’s version of Super Bowl Boulevard. That space, a decade ago, was a parking lot.

    Whereas Parry hopes to convince businesses to drop anchor in the desert, and Bruce will market the diversity of the Bay, Sargent said her approach will be of a combination of those goals.

    “There is a huge push in Houston right now to get what we believe is the city’s perception to be more tightly aligned with the reality,” she said. “There’s a perception that you can do a lot of good business in Houston, but that’s about it. It’s really a culturally and ethnically diverse city.”

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  • Merchandise record in NFL’s sights

    The NFL is tracking toward record Super Bowl merchandise sales of more than $200 million leading up to the game, largely because of its New York/New Jersey site and the two teams that will be playing there.

    Speaking before last weekend’s AFC and NFC championship games, Leo Kane, NFL senior vice president of consumer products, pointed to the strong NFL markets of the four finalists as a key factor for driving Super Bowl retail sales. The site of the game, in the midst of North America’s biggest market, also looms large.

    “We have not had a Super Bowl that isn’t over $100 million in retail in a number of years, and that would include the playoff run-up, the two competing markets and at-venue,” Kane said. “We’ve gotten in the $200 million area before and we think we’ve got a real good chance to go over $200 million this year at retail. We’re in position to perhaps set a record.”

    Two years ago, the NFL hit the $200 million mark when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, league officials confirmed. In addition, the NFL has been “right in the neighborhood” of $200 million for past Super Bowls involving the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, Kane said.

    Super Bowl merchandise sales include all items featuring the Super Bowl mark, many of which were introduced in the New York market months ago, and will eventually include the winning team’s hot-market sales.

    This year, the difference maker is New York City, where the NFL expects to do so much more business than it would typically do in a Super Bowl market because of the large number of tourists in town and the extensive retail setup, Kane said.

    For the first time, the league is opening a giant NFL Shop at Super Bowl, setting up inside the Macy’s department store at 34th and Broadway in Manhattan, at the southern edge of Super Bowl Boulevard. The 36,000-square-foot retail space opens Wednesday.

    “Many years, we don’t open up [official Super Bowl retail sites] until the Thursday before the game,” Kane said, “so we’ll have eight additional days at Macy’s.”

    Lids, the national sports hat chain, is a partner in the Macy’s operation. Lids employees are responsible for purchasing the merchandise, and Macy’s workers will sell the items in their building, Kane said.

    In a cold-weather locale, Sportservice expects hats and scarves to be a big part of its merchandise mix.
    “It’s our greatest brand presentation,” he said. “There will be lots of traditional retailers like JCPenney, Old Navy and Champs buying [Super Bowl product], but they won’t have the NFL Shop branding.”

    At MetLife Stadium, meanwhile, Delaware North Sportservice is preparing for its first Super Bowl operation in company history. The firm runs both the food and retail at the home of the Jets and Giants and protected its home turf by winning the Super Bowl merchandise contract.

    The league typically hires an outside vendor to run that piece of the business on site. MainGate and FMI combined have exclusively sold merchandise at-venue for the past 25 Super Bowls.

    MainGate was awarded this year’s Super Bowl retail contract at 40 NFL-sanctioned hotels.

    “Because this is the first outdoor game in cold weather, having familiarity and a seasoned staff in a building the size of MetLife [Stadium] — we saw that as an advantage to the NFL,” said Jeff Hess, Sportservice’s vice president of retail. “That was part of our conversation with them about the opportunity to do the retail services.”

    The NFL cut a separate deal with Modell’s Sporting Goods for Super Bowl gear sold at the stadium, Kane said. On site, fans will see branding that spells out NFL Shop at Super Bowl Presented by Modell’s Sporting Goods. Last year, Lids filled that role for retail operator MainGate.

    “The Delaware Norths and MainGates of the world aren’t really consumer-facing retail brands like Lids and Modell’s are,” Kane said.

    Sportservice will have about 350 Super Bowl items to choose from at the stadium and has more than tripled its points of sale inside and outside the facility compared with a regular-season NFL game, Hess said.

    “Our strategy is to make sure folks have all they need as it relates to outdoor weather gear and supplemental items that they might not have thought to bring,” he said. “That will certainly be a big part of our merchandise mix, particularly knit headwear and scarves.”

    To expedite sales, Sportservice will use 25 customized iPods in the stadium’s 10,000-square-foot team store to complete transactions as a “line-busting” maneuver, the same wireless technology it has used for World Series games, Hess said.

    Sportservice doubled the number of premium-level retail stands for the Super Bowl and signed a deal with Mounted Memories to sell licensed autographed helmets, poster frames and other items tied to the two Super Bowl teams in both sideline clubs.

    The vendor’s reach extends outside the stadium, as well, operating merchandise kiosks inside seven Welcome Pavilions, the 20,000-square-foot warming tents where Super Bowl attendees will have their tickets scanned and will go through security. Super Bowl championship gear will be for sale in the same pavilions as fans exit the game, Hess said.

    The Gameday Fan Plaza, situated between the pavilions and the stadium, will have six 40-foot trailers selling Super Bowl trinkets.

    Across from the stadium, Sportservice will sell Super Bowl merchandise at the Meadowlands Racetrack, site of the official NFL Tailgate Party for corporate sponsors and other VIPs, and the Izod Center, part of the league’s On Location premium ticket package. The Tailgate Party alone is expected to draw more than 10,000 people, Hess said.

    Additionally, Sportservice won the right to sell Super Bowl programs and will have 350 employees hawking those items at the stadium.

    “We have no doubt that because of the size of New York and because of the cold weather, this will be far and away the largest at-venue Super Bowl sales we’ve had,” Kane said.

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  • Under Armour goes big in Grand Central

    NFL licensee Under Armour is embarking on its most ambitious Super Bowl marketing effort to date, mounting a 12,000-square-foot “immersive brand experience” within New York’s Grand Central Terminal Thursday to Sunday of Super Bowl week.

    Grand Central Terminal management contends that 750,000 people pass through the 101-year-old structure daily. During those four days of Super Bowl week, those commuters will see in the terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall footwear and apparel product displays, video screens, and an interactive zone through which fans can experience what it’s like to field an NFL punt, for example. The brand’s NFL endorsers will make appearances. Under Armour will conduct retail sales on site, as well.

    “This is about allowing consumers to touch and feel our brand in a cool way during Super Bowl week and about overall brand buzz and awareness for Under Armour in New York City,” said Steve Sommers, Under Armour’s vice president of global brand marketing.

    Much of the focus will be on Under Armour’s Speedform Apollo running shoes, which launch in late February. The brand will drive traffic to the experience with social media, digital ads, retail and radio ads.

    “Clutter is the key word this year, and while we’ve seen other brands using out-of-home media, our choice was to choose an iconic location like Grand Central, where we can showcase the brand in a place where there is always a lot of [pedestrian] traffic,” Sommers said.

    Peter Stern’s Strategic agency, New York, is handling for Under Armour.

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  • Unionized workforce adds layer of administration, experience in NY/NJ region

    Union boss Jimmy Hoffa may or may not be buried beneath 13 feet of concrete in the MetLife Stadium parking lot, as the urban legend goes — but what’s certain is that labor unions will be well-represented at next month’s Super Bowl, with the game and festivities surrounding it being staged in one of the most unionized regions of the country.

    Union members in 2012 accounted for 23 percent of wage and salary workers in New York state, the highest rate in the nation, and 16 percent in New Jersey (eighth highest), according to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, union members accounted for 11 percent of employed wage and salary workers in the United States.

    What does that mean for this year’s game compared to past years? Several industry executives with experience running a Super Bowl said the presence of unions adds a layer of administrative work to the event-management process, but when the host stadium already has agreements in place, it should not have much effect beyond that.

    That’s the case here. A spokesman for the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee said the organization has collective-bargaining agreements with several unions and that the NFL, as it stages the league’s premier event, “formally recognizes those relationships and has agreed to abide by them.”

    Joe Villani, business manager at International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 632 in Paramus, N.J., will oversee the approximately 1,000 stagehands who will build and disassemble the numerous event areas that will take place at the Meadowlands complex throughout Super Bowl week. Those stagings include the halftime show at MetLife Stadium and NFL On Location, the NFL’s private hospitality area, which will be set up at the Izod Center.

    Villani has been at the Meadowlands since 1983 and has worked international soccer matches, “Monday Night Football” games, massive stage setups for Pink Floyd and The Who, a couple dozen Bruce Springsteen shows, and a papal visit. With that kind of résumé, Villani shrugs off concerns of bad weather or big crowds for the Super Bowl.

    “For us, it’s really no different than any other game,” he said. “A lot of people are making a much bigger deal out of the weather than we are. It snows here every winter, it rains here all year, and we never have problems.”

    Villani said the work schedule for the Super Bowl is more like that of a concert than a sporting event. Crews will be putting in 10- to 12-hour days beginning this week and most likely will have around-the-clock work going on a few days before the game itself.

    Among the several other unions working on both sides of the Hudson River, 200 members of the Paramus-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164 will be working on the stadium site to prevent a repeat of last year’s Super Bowl power outage in New Orleans.

    Next year’s Super Bowl will be played in Glendale, Ariz., a state where its 5 percent union membership is one of the lowest in the country. Louisiana, site of last year’s game, had a union membership rate of 4.5 percent. Indiana, which hosted in 2012, was at 11 percent.

    Said Jay Parry, CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, “There’s probably no greater juxtaposition for work environment than New York-New Jersey to Arizona.”

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  • League shows flair for dramatic with Super Bowl Boulevard

    Give my regards to Broadway.

    Those famous words may sum up the NFL’s bold Super Bowl entertainment experiment unfolding in the coming weeks — almost more so than the highly publicized fact that it’s the first time the game is being held outdoors in a cold-weather city.

    The NFL is shutting down 13 blocks in the heart of Manhattan, running through Times Square, in order to stage a Super Bowl festival complete with a toboggan run and a virtual theater. More than 1 million people are expected to pass through the stretch of Broadway, which will be closed to traffic over four days, something that’s unheard of in America’s most populous city.

    “This is most definitely the most exciting endeavor I have worked on,” said Mary Pat Augenthaler, vice president of events at the NFL, who is running the project. That is saying something for Augenthaler, an 18-year league veteran, given her role in the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

    It was just two years ago the Indianapolis Super Bowl wowed the NFL and visitors in town for the game by shutting down parts of its downtown, something common at big international sporting events like the Olympics. Past Super Bowl weeks, however, had been far-flung events, with very little centralized activity.

    The league quickly took over the Indy concept, dubbing it Super Bowl Boulevard, finding sponsors (Verizon last year, GMC this year), and making it, next to the game and the parties, arguably the most important part of the Super Bowl experience. The NFL touts the Boulevard as “where Super Bowl lives.”

    Last year in New Orleans, the concept detoured a bit, with Super Bowl Boulevard housed along the riverfront in a park and not in the city center as the league had hoped. (The NFL had wanted the Boulevard to run from Jackson Square to the Mississippi River).

    The league got its wish in New York, though, after laborious negotiations with the city. Part of those talks were fueled by the host committee’s inability to secure a venue for the league’s fan-interactive NFL Experience, which will not occur this year. So the NFL went into high gear two years ago and convinced the city to close down Broadway to ensure an outdoor replacement of sorts for NFL Experience.

    The toboggan run will stretch over two blocks. Other features include football films shown on the side of Macy’s Herald Square, an interactive football play space, concerts, a field goal kicking area, a Lombardi Trophy display, and the oversized Super Bowl Roman numerals display that the league in recent years has made into a showcase. Eight NFL sponsors, including GMC, have activation spots on the blocks, alongside the 10 events areas.

    The Boulevard also will host the NFL’s pop-up restaurant, its VIP sponsor center, and studio sets for game broadcaster Fox, as well as ESPN, NFL Network and CNN.

    But there are a few items fans will not find: food, warming centers or bathrooms.

    “That was an intentional decision, that where you can go to get warm or pop in to use a restroom are the businesses,” Augenthaler said.

    Most local businesses only allow paying customers to use a restroom.

    The NFL has hired 18 pedestrian traffic managers to help with the affair because the cross streets are not closed down other than one to accommodate the toboggan run.

    The host committee for next year’s Super Bowl in Arizona plans to study New York’s effort closely, Augenthaler said. When Arizona last hosted the game, in 2008, one would have been hard pressed to find a Super Bowl activity in downtown Phoenix. That will not be the case next year, when the 49th Super Bowl is in Arizona, she said.

    Ken Podziba, who ran the New York City Sports Commission for more than a decade and is on the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, described the shutdown of Broadway as unprecedented.

    “You are going to really feel the energy of New York City,” he said, “and its essence on Super Bowl Boulevard.”

    Click these icons above for more information.

    Additional destinations

    Forty Ate Restaurant
    Renaissance Hotel/47th Street and 7th Avenue
    The NFL partners with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to run a “pop-up restaurant” within the hotel.

    NFL Honors
    Radio City Music Hall/50th Street and 6th Avenue
    The NFL’s annual Saturday night awards show starts with a red-carpet arrival of players (Feb. 1).

    On the air

    ESPN, NFL Network and Fox Sports all plan to have broadcast sets built along Broadway, using Super Bowl Boulevard as the backdrop for their week of Super Bowl programming.

    Note: Map provides a sampling of activities and sponsors. Additional activation points and displays are planned.

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