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Volume 21 No. 34

Events and Attractions

The NFL’s official hospitality business, On Location Experiences, generated more than $150 million in revenue from the Minneapolis Super Bowl, four times more than the San Francisco Super Bowl two years ago, the company said.


Much of that growth is tied to acquisitions, specifically PrimeSport, which was brought on board in December and rapidly integrated into On Location’s system. The growth also reflects the extra tickets On Location now controls — 9,500 from the league office, plus a few thousand more through PrimeSport’s team relationships that are packaged with travel and entertainment, like concerts during Super Bowl week.

John Collins, On Location’s chief executive, estimated corporate hospitality for the big game — everything from entertainment to logistical support, parties, ticket and hotel packages — is valued at $350 million annually.

Kelly Clarkson was among many musical acts featured in Minneapolis.
Photo: on location experiences

When the NFL licensed its On Location franchise three years ago to Bruin Sports Capital and RedBird Capital, the plan was to bring order to an unruly Super Bowl market and capture more revenue that was going to unsanctioned businesses. At that time, On Location generated $35 million in Super Bowl business (Collins declined to provide a figure for last year’s host Houston).

But in May 2016, the league voted to move thousands of tickets away from the two Super Bowl teams to On Location, providing the agency with the 9,500 tickets it gets now. One reason Super Bowl ticket prices were so much higher on the secondary market this year, even in cold-weather Minneapolis, was because On Location controlled such a large number, thus limiting supply, Collins said.

On Location also grew its offerings with a flurry of acquisitions in 2016, including Jack Murphy’s Nomadic Entertainment and Sean Connolly’s Kreate Inc., which gave On Location two of the biggest event producers and party planners with decades of experience working the Super Bowl. Outside parties like Maxim and Playboy still are there, but On Location managed five nights of entertainment, including performances by Pink and Jennifer Lopez, in Minneapolis.

On Location sold 4,500 hotel rooms and sold out all of its packages, Collins said. It handled 10 tailgate parties, three postgame parties (for both Super Bowl teams and players) and chartered 11 flights for fans.

On Location, through Kreate, produced Super Bowl Live, the host committee’s downtown, 10-day celebration that had 48 musical acts. The attraction drew slightly more than 1 million people.

When New York hosted the 2014 Super Bowl, haute cuisine came to the forefront for sports business executives and football-crazed fans attending parties around the big game. Since the popularity of celebrity chefs has not waned, gastronomy now has become a Super Bowl staple.


“If you’ve got a chef with a decent name, he’s making as much as all but the absolute top NFL players,” said Lonny Sweet, CEO of The Connect Group, who has been taking chef client Marc Forgione to the Super Bowl for around a decade.

Chefs Charlie Palmer and Diane Yang prep for the Culinary Kickoff.
Photo: getty images

“Name chefs have the same star power as name athletes, especially at the Super Bowl,” said Chrissy Delisle, who ran the fourth Culinary Kickoff Super Bowl benefit in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII at chef Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable restaurant.

Randy Fisher’s Miami agency, Culinary Related Entertainment and Marketing, put on six events at Super Bowl LII, ranging from smaller parties for ESPN, to tailgates for the Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL’s official Tailgate.

“The biggest thing propelling all this is The Food Network,” Fisher said. “Multiply that times the power of social media. Now, when food comes to the table, the first thing people reach for is their cameras.”

Like golf outings at most Super Bowls, “Expectations for good food at big events is now a given,” Sweet said. “Food is one of the big reasons people travel. It helps tell the story of that city and connect people.”

Fisher said an A-List chef can make six figures for lending his name to a Super Bowl event as executive chef, supporting that with social media.

“Food has become another facet of the entertainment business,” Fisher said. “Where this is all heading is growing culinary expression at other sports events.”

Sure enough, Delisle is expanding her Culinary Kickoff to events including the Kentucky Derby and the Masters. “Reality TV really escalated all this,” she said. “And how many parties with 3,000 people can you go to?”