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Volume 21 No. 2

Events and Attractions

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).
“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.

When ESPN hosts the first installment of its global X Games series in Aspen, Colo., this week, it will have only four global X Games sponsors — two fewer than ESPN hoped to have.

The company, which will host X Games in Aspen, France, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Los Angeles, sold sponsorships to all of those events to GoPro and Red Bull. It split the automotive category between Jeep, which will sponsor winter events in Aspen and France, and Ford, which will sponsor summer events in Brazil, Germany, Spain and Los Angeles. And it sold a global deal to the U.S. Navy that gives the armed forces division on-site rights in Aspen and Los Angeles and advertising in global X Games programming from the other four stops.

ESPN executives declined to discuss the length and financial value of the deals. Marketing sources who were approached by ESPN said the company was pitching deals with a $16 million-a-year price tag but added that the company netted less than that from GoPro and Red Bull.


X Games partners


Red Bull


The Office Depot
The North Face
Monster Cable

* Jeep and Ford will split the automotive category, with Jeep taking winter X Games and Ford taking summer X Games.
** Navy is a sponsor of the Aspen and Los Angeles X Games events and will have advertising in all global X Games programming.
Source: ESPN

All of the global sponsors have been involved with X Games in the past.

“We feel pleased with where we’re at,” said Eric Johnson, executive vice president of multimedia sales. “We’ve developed a brand-new sales strategy. We’ve seen some complicated global deals come to fruition. Ultimately, we’re happy with where we’re at, and we want to keep pushing.”

Johnson said that ESPN is in active conversations with companies interested in the X Games. He expects to sign two more global X Games sponsors by the end of the year.

“These are complicated matters,” Johnson said. “This requires CMOs and clients in this country to get sign-off and buy-off from regions. We’ve done a lot of learning.”

The rights of global sponsors vary but most receive rights to the X Games marks and logos, title sponsorships of competitions or course elements, signs, hospitality, on-site activation and media across ESPN’s TV, digital, print and radio outlets.

In Aspen, Jeep will be the title sponsor of the slopestyle course and have two Jeep vehicles integrated into the course design. Red Bull will have branding on course and vignettes of its athletes featured during the broadcast. GoPro will title the snowmobile best trick event and have footage shot by its cameras incorporated into the broadcast.

GoPro has been a sponsor of the X Games since 2011. The company, which last month received a $200 million investment from the Chinese manufacturer Foxconn that valued the company at $2.2 billion, historically divided its sports marketing spending among the X Games, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series and athletes such as Shaun White and Ryan Sheckler. It signed on as a global X Games sponsor because it believed the events offered a marketing platform to help expand its sales in key markets such as Germany and Brazil.

“Those are not only strong markets globally and financially from a macro level, but for GoPro we have a ton of customers in those regions,” said GoPro spokesman Rick Loughery. “It matched up nicely. Brazil is really booming when it comes to action sports.”

Red Bull first signed on to sponsor the X Games two years ago. The company saw some risks in ESPN’s decision to take the property global, including the possibility that some key athletes might skip the new events and ratings might suffer because additional content is available, but ultimately it opted to sign on for the four additional events and plans to activate in all six markets.

“Action sports are part of our heritage, so when people are investing to grow action sports, that’s really exciting for us,” said Chris Mater, Red Bull’s U.S. sports marketing chief.

In addition to signing four global sponsorships, ESPN signed seven local sponsors for the Aspen X Games. With the exception of The North Face, all of the sponsors are new to the event. They include: The Office Depot; Loctite, a sealant brand; Yoplait, a yogurt brand; Monster Cable, a manufacturer of audio/visual cables and headphones; OtterBox, an electronics case manufacturer; and Repreve, a recycled fabric brand.

Repreve’s X Games sponsorship is its first in sports. The brand, which is a division of the publicly traded company Unifi, makes recyclable fabric that is used to make outdoor clothing by brands such as The North Face and Patagonia. It cut the X Games deal itself and signed snowboarder Elena Hight for a commercial that will air during the broadcast. Hight also will wear a green beanie made from Repreve during competition. The company plans to hand out similar beanies in X Games’ sponsor village.

“We’ve been promoting Repreve to the B2B community for five years,” said Roger Barrier, Unifi’s president and chief operating officer. “We’re looking to promote to consumers. The X Games is the beginning of that for us.”

ESPN’s sales team is working with local organizing committees in France, Brazil, Germany and Spain to find a similar list of five to 10 local sponsors for those events.