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Volume 24 No. 216
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NFL Experience In Times Square To Open Thursday; Expects 1 Million Visitors In First Year

The NFL Experience Times Square opens Thursday, with Pro Football HOFer Michael Strahan, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Giants WR Brandon Marshall scheduled to usher through the first group. NFL Experience President Daniel Boockvar described the 40,000-square-foot, four-floor space as a cross between the Pro Football HOF, Walt Disney Land and Dave & Busters. Admissions fees are between $39 and $44, with no discounts for children. The space expects to draw 1 million visitors in its first year, which translates to admissions revenue of at least $39M. The 2,000-square-foot, fourth-floor concession and gift shop can quickly be turned into an event space, which is already booked for future events. The Experience is a joint venture between the NFL and Cirque du Soleil; the Witkoff Group, AEG and the NFLPA also are partners. NFL CMO Dawn Hudson, who oversaw the project, said sponsors are only now beginning to sample the Experience. “It’s been hard to describe. Our goal is to delight current fans and engage new fans,” she said. The centerpiece of the Experience is an immersive, 180-seat theater, that shows a 10-minute NFL Films-produced movie. The chairs rock, snow falls from the ceiling, and the film is on four sides -- the two sidewalls, the front screen and the ceiling. The Experience also has a museum and a skills area. Hudson declined to comment on financials or how long the NFL’s commitment is to the space (the league’s primary role is licensing its name). The NFL expects that the Times Square location and promotions through the league, plus the interactive football skills elements, will clearly distinguish the Experience (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).

ADDING SOME EXPERIENCE: The AP's Barry Wilner notes while this Experience is "patterned after the exhibits the league has done for years at the Super Bowl and draft, it has a new and different feel" thanks to the  partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Hudson said, "We thought about the power of what we know about the NFL and to try to reimagine that with a company that looks at the world in a totally different way could create magic for the fan." The Experience has "something for kids, teens, and adults, mixing high tech and traditional displays into an immersive attraction." Displays of Super Bowl rings and tickets and the Lombardi Trophy "are on hand." A replication of an equipment room and the underneath areas of a stadium is "part of the four-floor tour, which takes anywhere from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on lines, though there will be timed entries" (AP, 11/28).