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There is little in the sporting world to rival the fanfare surrounding Super Bowl, as those who congregated in Miami for the 54th edition of the NFL American football league championship game at the weekend will testify.
Hard Rock Stadium attracted a sell-out crowd of just over 62,000 for Sunday’s clash, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.
However, more than three times as many NFL enthusiasts travelled to Southern Florida from across the United States and beyond to join in the festivities across a variety of fan-focused offerings.
Among the multitude of attractions was a stunning experiential activation from Lowe’s, the NFL’s official home improvement sponsor, which captivated visitors by demonstrating its creative and building credentials whilst engaging fans of every NFL franchise in the days ahead of the contest.
Lowe’s Hometown, an interactive NFL-themed neighbourhood featuring custom-built dwellings representing the unique characteristics of all 32 of the league’s teams, was constructed within the Miami Beach Convention Center with six tonnes of hardwood and 200 gallons of paint.
For example, there were huge chunks of cheddar at the dwelling for the Green Bay Packers – whose fans are called ‘cheeseheads’ – while a marble Parthenon was built for the Tennessee Titans, replicating the famous structure in Nashville.
“I do not think there is anything more authentic than us building a neighbourhood that represents all these markets,” said Adam Jacobs, Lowe’s director of sports marketing.
Interactive theme park
The activation was part of the wider Super Bowl Experience, sponsored by Lowe’s, and described by the NFL as “pro football’s interactive theme park”.
The wider experience featured a 40-yard dash, a 50-yard football field with flag games and clinics, kicking and passing arenas, replicas of player lockers, a football production facility, helmet decorating and photograph opportunities with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which is awarded to the Super Bowl winners.
There were also autograph-signing sessions with more than 50 NFL stars over the course of the six-day event, which concluded the day before the big game.
With under-12s able to enter the ticketed event for free and active duty service members, veterans and their families given free entry on ‘Military Appreciation Day’, the Super Bowl Experience attracted tens of thousands of visitors.
Super Bowl Live
However, the Super Bowl Experience was by no means the only fan-focused attraction in town.
In downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park, Super Bowl Live featured watercraft stunts, freestyle shows, music and dance performances, fireworks, parades and a football field display with highlights from the 10 previous Super Bowls that were held in Miami. The seven-day event, presented by Verizon, also offered a ‘Tailgate Town’, local food and an ‘Environmental Village’.
Meanwhile the Super Fan Fest in the Wynwood Marketplace offered a ‘Field of Dreams’ mini-field, a 40-yard dash and a passes challenge, as well as beer spots, food trucks and photo opportunities, with live concerts also featuring appearances from sporting legends.
The interest of locals in Miami has been stoked for several months though by the presence of Gridiron Glory, containing more than 200 NFL artefacts in a special exhibition at the HistoryMiami Museum, including Tom Brady’s draft card from 2000 and a football thrown by another legendary quarterback, Dan Marino.
There were also numerous fan gatherings across the United States, with the ticketed NFL Experience in Times Square offering interactive attractions such as a 4D immersive theatre and a virtual reality experience in the heart of New York.
Moreover, technology played a central role in the NFL’s innovative visual album, ‘Super Bowl LIV Live’, which was released on Super Bowl Sunday and pulled together each performance from the event, including the Pepsi-sponsored Halftime Show featuring pop stars Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
The visual album went live on digital service providers such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube soon after the performances.
“With the abundance of technology in today’s world, it was extremely important to us to share the ground-breaking Super Bowl performances with our fans across the globe after they occur,” said Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice-president and chief media and business officer. “We are happy to continue the way we enhance the fan experience for NFL fans everywhere.”