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Super Bowl XLVIII: Big Game, Big Crowd, Big Money

New York City is pulling out all the stops to commemorate the upcoming Super Bowl, the first game to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city.

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If you host it, they will come.

New York’s retailers, hotels, restaurants, bars, taxis, theaters and hundreds of other businesses of all size and scale are getting ready to cash in on Super Bowl XLVIII. The big event is scheduled for MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2, and it’ll be the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city.

The game — and the myriad celebratory events that will surround it — are expected to draw 400,000 visitors and bring in $500 million to $600 million in revenue to the New York and New Jersey region, according to an economic impact study conducted by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee.

As a point of comparison, the combined impact of New York Fashion Week in both February and September in 2012 was $865 million, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp. And WrestleMania 29, the WWE’s big event that was held at MetLife Stadium in April, brought $101.2 million to the New York and New Jersey area, according to an economic impact study conducted for WWE.

All told, New York City counted 54.3 million visitors in 2013 — a record number — and those people generated $58.7 billion in overall economic impact and $39.4 billion in direct spending, according to NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourism arm.

The hoopla will kick off tonight when Bloomingdale’s unveils 48 one-of-a-kind football helmets designed by members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The helmets will take over the windows of the flagship on 59th Street starting at 5 p.m., followed by a star-studded tailgating party at a nearby hotel, which is expected to draw NFL players and CFDA designers. The helmets will be auctioned off, starting with opening bids of $248, and the proceeds will go to the NFL Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football.

“Bloomingdale’s New York heritage, combined with the fact that Super Bowl [XLVIII] is taking place in our backyard, gives us an opportunity to merge fashion and sports in a modern way,” said Frank Berman, Bloomingdale’s executive vice president of marketing. “Through our unique collaborations, merchandise and special events, we are able to celebrate Super Bowl [XLVIII] in-store and online, bringing the excitement of this iconic event to our shoppers across a variety of touch points, all while supporting the NFL Foundation.”

Bloomingdale’s is also installing pop-up shops selling Super Bowl-related apparel and accessories from Nike, Junk Food, Smart Turnout and Freshman Cap, at New York-area stores and online.

But perhaps the biggest statement of all will be Super Bowl Boulevard.

Starting Jan. 29, the National Football League and NYC & Co. will take over Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets for a four-day festival featuring local music; food and beverage; television broadcasts; interactive fan events, including a toboggan ride; NFL sponsor activations, and NFL player autograph signings and appearances. The event is free but the public is being asked to register for tickets in advance.

Tracy Perlman, vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions for the NFL, said the pedestrian plazas already in place on Broadway will be extended for this event — undoubtedly causing more of a traffic nightmare — but the cross-streets will remain open. “It’s a space for the public to interact with NFL players,” she said. She stressed that no merchandise will be for sale on Super Bowl Boulevard and the $5 ticket price for the toboggan rides will benefit the MillionTreesNYC charity.

At the southern end, there will be a Super Bowl virtual theater, with a nightly 10-minute Super Bowl-related video and musical show that will be broadcast on the facade of the Macy’s flagship.

On Sunday, Macy’s will unveil a 36,000-square-foot NFL Shop at Super Bowl, the city’s largest Super Bowl store, on the fourth floor of the Herald Square store. A Macy’s spokeswoman said the retailer converted “raw space” that will eventually be converted into a men’s floor for the shop. It is being operated by Lids Sports Group, which signed a deal in August to open licensed team merchandise shops in Macy’s stores around the country under the name Locker Room by Lids.

Outside of Manhattan, 15 Locker Room by Lids pop-up Super Bowl shops will be added to stores in the New York and New Jersey areas, including key doors such as Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.; Roosevelt Field in Garden City, N.Y.; Brooklyn, and Queens.

Throughout the week before the game, Macy’s will host player appearances, family fan day, fashion shows and an exhibition of NFL memorabilia.

“Macy’s Herald Square is one of the most dynamic retail environments in the world and the only department store that can bring football fans the world’s largest NFL Shop at Super Bowl,” said Louis Mastrogiacomo, senior vice president of fashion and product office, leased businesses and multicultural vendor business development for Macy’s. “Our close collaboration with Lids created a once-in-a-lifetime retail opportunity to showcase the extensive collection of NFL team product in a custom-designed 36,000-square-foot space at Macy’s Herald Square.”

The shop will offer official licensed team and Super Bowl XLVIII apparel and memorabilia for men and women.

Mitchell Modell, chief executive officer of Modell’s Sporting Goods, said he has “transformed” four stores in Manhattan — 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Herald Square and 86th Street and Third Avenue — into Super Bowl Central, installing huge game-day logos and presentations of licensed merchandise. “There are new fixtures and new product that you can’t find anywhere else,” he said. About 100 stores in the New York area will carry Super Bowl product, he said, but the four in Manhattan will also offer “premium product.”

Modell’s is also planning a lot of activities in its stores for the game, including New York sports writer Mike Lupica interviewing former players about the game, player appearances, street teams, raffle prizes and even a game-day in-store party for the first 200 people to arrive at the store. There will also be a VIP/invitation-only party with Alyssa Milano, the face of the Touch line of sports apparel for women.

Although he declined to say how much merchandise he expects to sell, he said, “We feel like we’re a part of the local fabric of New York. And even though our local teams aren’t in the Super Bowl this year, we still want to be part of the excitement and continue to drive energy.”

Saks Fifth Avenue is also getting into the act.

“For the first time, the Super Bowl will be held in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship city, and our celebration will be bigger than ever before,” said Tom Ott, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s. “From special merchandise from top designers to charitable in-store events and activations throughout the entire store, Saks will be the go-to luxury destination for Super Bowl [XLVIII].”

The retailer will host four days of events in its flagship from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, and will install two pop-up shops over the weekend: a World of Versace shop with special merchandise, a live customized artist installation and DJ; and a Mizzen+Main shop, which will feature a men’s wear line designed specifically for athletes. Saks will also offer a sneak peek at some spring designer sneakers from Bally, Dsquared2, Lanvin and Zanotti.

Additionally, the retailer is partnering with the Off the Field Players’ Wives Association to host a cocktail reception for the charity on Jan. 30 and its 13th-annual Game Day Charity Fashion Show the next day. Off the Field is a charitable organization comprised of wives of active and retired NFL players whose work supports children, women and families in need. This year’s event will benefit women’s shelters in New York City.

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Last week, Nike introduced a collection of on-field, sideline, training and lifestyle apparel, inspired by the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Called the NFL Nike Silver Speed Collection, it is centered around warmth and comfort.

“New York is the style center of the world,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s vice president and creative director of football. But because this game is being played outdoors, he said the company created a line that could “deal with all the elements,” whether it’s the next polar vortex or a midwinter thaw. The silver color of the Lombardi trophy was the inspiration for the collection, which includes everything from the Aeroloft Summit puffer jacket and a Sweatless jacket and pants, a reinvented warm-up, to Lunar Terra Arktos Boots and the new Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Cleat, Super Bowl edition.

“We took a broader view this time,” he said, “and it has a more stylistic element because this is a city that cares how things look.”

Another key partner is Tommy Bahama, which signed a deal with the NFL in the fall to create a licensed collection of lifestyle apparel. The first product to be released is a half-zip pullover that features NFL team logos on the left sleeve and back collar and retails for $148. The second is a full-zip team jacket with NFL team logos and trim on the inside neck and a large team logo on the back for $295.

Rob Goldberg, senior vice president of marketing for Tommy Bahama, said the product has been a hot seller, led by the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears items, all of which are sold out. “There’s so much power in the NFL brand,” he said. “They have a really loyal, passionate consumer.”

The manufacturer also produced a special Super Bowl sweatshirt that is selling well in its new New York City store, he said.

“People are really fired up because it’s in New York this year,” Goldberg said. “It’s becoming a collectors’ item and the Super Bowl attendees want premium product.”

Not be to outdone, Under Armour has rented out Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal from Thursday through Sunday of Super Bowl week and is creating a 12,500-square-foot interactive space to introduce its new holiday product line and tease its latest footwear launch, the SpeedForm Apollo running shoe, which will be released into the market on Feb. 28.

Although Under Armour doesn’t have specific Super Bowl merchandise, its roots are in football and it is involved with the NFL in other ways, including the Combine in February. So the brand will use the space to hold several events, including a motion technique footwear zone where fans can simulate catching a punt from an NFL kicker, or jump on a treadmill and try out the shoe, the first to be made in a bra factory. Several athletes are expected to make appearances at the space, according to Matt Mirchin, executive vice president of global marketing for Under Armour; there will be a live radio show broadcast and training classes with world-class trainers and former Wounded Warrior Project service members.

Under Armour will also host a press event at the space to unveil its commercials as well as its speed-skating and bobsled suits for the Olympics. The Baltimore-based company is preparing to open an office in New York and has taken 12,000 square feet in SoHo for a store scheduled to open in April.

“Our brand was born on the football field,” Mirchin said. “So it’s in our DNA. We broke $1 billion in sales in 2010 and will be $2.2 billion in 2013, so our marketing spend has more than doubled. We have more stories to tell and doing it during Super Bowl [week] is a real good investment.”

Carl Banks, former New York Giants linebacker and president of G-III Sports, has partnered with Iconix Brand Group’s Starter brand for a three-week-long pop-up Starter Clubhouse shop that will be located at the Paramount Hotel on West 46th Street starting Friday. The shop will hold a series of events, including fan appreciation nights, celebrity DJ sets, a celebrity poker tournament, professional athlete appearances and live radio-TV-Web broadcasts. The shop will feature NFL, NBA and MLB team jackets as well as the Starter Black Label premium collection featuring collaborations with prominent streetwear designers. There will also be a special-edition Super Bowl XLVIII Jacket.

Banks said he expects this Super Bowl to be especially notable.

“For fans who have never experienced New York, this will be great,” he said. “In other cities, you have to create programming, but not in New York.”

The only real challenge, he said, is the game. “Traditionally, [the] Super Bowl is held in a warm city where people can tailgate and then go to their seats. But it’s going to be hard to mill around outside here, and that will be a challenge for some fans.”

Leo Kane, the NFL’s senior vice president of consumer products, said the league is “embracing the cold. It’s all about understanding what you should wear and how. It’s really a layering story.” He said the NFL’s merchandise partners have stepped up to the plate this time to give fans “true Super Bowl style, whether it’s a great knit cap, a scarf, mittens or outerwear. But it’s all about being warm first, and then stylish.”

All told, the marketing and hype around this Super Bowl is unparalleled, according to the NFL.

“New York is the media capital of the world,” said the NFL’s Perlman, who noted that in addition to the fan activations in the streets and in the retail stores, all the entertainment shows that film here have also jumped on board. Players and Super Bowl-related events will be featured on everything from Jimmy Fallon and Rachael Ray to The Chew, as well as all the morning news and talk shows, she said.

There are Super Bowl ads on taxi tops, buses and subway cars and countdown clocks in Times Square and near the Lincoln Tunnel.

VH1, which has traditionally hosted a concert before every Super Bowl, is holding six in the New York area for this one, Perlman said, one in each borough as well as another in New Jersey, featuring acts including Gavin DeGraw, Fall Out Boy and the Goo Goo Dolls.

“We’re touching people with a different genre of music and in a different location every day,” she said, “but they’ll all have the ‘bigness’ and feel of [the] Super Bowl.”

Other events around town include a premiere of “Draft Day,” a football-related movie starring Kevin Costner that is coming out in April. “They thought they’d get the biggest bang for their buck because of all the celebrities in town for [the] Super Bowl,” Perlman said.

And it doesn’t stop there. On Jan. 30, the NFL will hold a press conference and roundtable discussion about the league’s antibullying initiatives in conjunction with Sports Illustrated. Flywheel, which holds indoor cycling classes, is running a contest through January at studios in the Tristate area, where riders are eligible for prizes and a chance to participate in a celebrity ride during Super Bowl weekend. There’s a Taste of the NFL event at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and even a sports career expo at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in New York. DirecTV is hosting a Celebrity Beach Bowl at Pier 40, there’s a celebrity bowling tournament, NFL players will be featured in the “Rock of Ages” show on Broadway all Super Bowl week, and the list goes on.

But things really heat up the night before the game with the NFL Honors Red Carpet Show, a two-hour prime-time special on CBS hosted by Alec Baldwin. The event, which is being held at Radio City Music Hall, celebrates the best players, performances and plays from the 2013-14 season. Perlman said the league will use the show to announce its Hall of Fame inductees for the first time.

“And oh yeah, there’s that game on Sunday,” Perlman said with a laugh. “We’ve never done anything at this scale before.”

The NFL’s Kane agreed: “Bringing the Super Bowl to New York is an unprecedented opportunity,” he said.

 

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