They call it Super Bowl Sunday but it is more like a month-long endeavor. The entire Bay Area was affected by hosting the big event this year in many ways. The minute the 49ers lost their last game the NFL took over the stadium and began their preparations. The cities of San Francisco, Santa Clara and surrounding areas were all gearing up for the event in early January even though it was a month away. All of this pointed to Super Bowl Sunday. I for one didn’t even realize the magnitude and how it is much more than a one-day event.
I arrived in the City on Friday and the first order of business was to pick up my credentials. Thankfully I came after noon as they said the line wrapped around the building for most of the morning. After passing through security checkpoints and them making sure I was who I said I was, they gave me my credentials. One for all the events in San Francisco and a different one for the game. With the 45-mile distance between the events for the week and the game shuttle buses were vital to the operation. I have to say for the media it was very well organized and communicated. I spent the rest of the day Friday and Saturday taking in the events in San Francisco. From the ticketed NFL Experience to the free Super Bowl City, everything in San Francisco was pointed to the Super Bowl. As the day went on the lines got longer and the City got much busier. Super Bowl City even had to stop letting people in by 3 p.m. both days. I do have to say since my wife would rather shop than attend NFL events her experience was better than most in the city. The normally crowded centers like Nordstrom and Macy’s were pretty light, except floors and stores dedicated to the NFL.
When game day actually arrived it was all about getting to the game. I boarded a media bus at 10:30 a.m. and actually arrived by 11:30 a.m. Not too bad for a 45-mile trip with 70,000 people trying to get to the same place. The ride over was pleasant as I had a conversation with two journalists who had covered at least 40 Super Bowls between them. Once arriving it was way more than just a game of course. The entire parking lot was a tented concert venue and security was moved out to accommodate all the people. Definitely a lot to do for those people arriving before noon.
After walking around and checking out the entire stadium I ventured out to the media tent. There must have been workstations for over 1,500 people. Probably at least 500 already working on laptops or organizing equipment. I would have to say at least 30 percent of the media were from other countries showing you the global reach of the NFL. The buildup to the game was something to see as the stadium filled and pregame festivities kicked off. I was in my seat about an hour before kickoff. Thankfully, I was in the auxiliary media table that was out of the sun. Those that weren’t baked until halftime. In some ways it seemed that the game played second fiddle to everything surrounding it. From the shaking stadium as the Blue Angels flew over to the long commercial breaks, you definitely knew it was more than just a game. Although I would call myself a sports fanatic I would have to say the highlight was seeing the halftime show in person. The sights and sounds were amazing and how they included the crowd in the performance was special to be a part of. I am a details person and just watching how they staged and brought it all together was something to watch.
After the game and watching 75 percent of the crowd go home happy as Broncos fans dominated the stadium, I decided to go down to the interview rooms. Another production of course with no details missed. The only bad set up in my opinion was interview booths for both teams set up in the same room with just a curtain to separate. I guess it made it easy for reporters to go back and forth but I would think players would want more separation. They did have a separate room for the winning head coach and MVP. I took it in for a while and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. One more bus ride and look at the stadium as we pulled away. Definitely an experience I will always remember. Now if we could only get the Final Four to Northern California!