Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Game secondary to parties

Celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, athletes flocking to ‘winter Hollywood’

January 30, 2007

Advertisement

Want to cozy up to Alyssa Milano? Pretend like you are part of Jeremy Piven's entourage? Take a turn with Emmitt Smith on the dance floor?

No need to go to Hollywood. They will be in Miami, where countless other celebrities and athletes will arrive this week to be part of the biggest Super Bowl party yet.

The hype and hoopla have started already. How could it not? Take a hot destination, add it to the hottest sporting event of the year, and you get one super white-hot weeklong celebration.

Scorching, no doubt.

"Everybody loves Miami; everybody wants to be here," said Fritz Fandino, director of Web marketing at the Beacon Hotel on South Beach. "It's the winter Hollywood. After the NFL did their Super Bowl in Detroit and it snowed, yeah, you want to come to Miami."

Everybody, indeed. The actual game has become an afterthought in recent years, overshadowed by all the athletes, celebrities and pseudo-celebrities who come to town to see and be seen at exclusive parties hosted by everyone from Playboy to Penthouse. Seems like all of Los Angeles and the NFL will be somewhere in South Florida at some point during the week.

The frenzy is expected to be on a much higher level because this is the first time in three years the Super Bowl is in a desired location, after games in Detroit and Jacksonville.

"If you put the game in a place like Miami, people want to go just because it's Miami," said Robert Tuchman, president of TSE Sports & Entertainment, which puts together packages for sporting and entertainment events. "It adds to the excitement; it adds to the hype. We sold so many packages before the teams were even announced, just because it is Miami."

Of course, Miami is no stranger to the Super Bowl and is hosting for a record-tying ninth time. But it is the first time since 1999 that the game is here. The NFL wanted to rotate the game to different cities such as Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit, and wanted improvements to be made to Dolphin Stadium before giving another game to Miami.

The league seems to be happy with the city; the game will be here again in 2010 for a 10th time.

"It gets the community that wasn't here or wasn't old enough or doesn't remember the last ones, it gets everyone involved now and again in 2010," said Maria Scott, spokesperson for the South Florida Super Bowl host committee "We're ready."

Miami also has been host to many memorable Super Bowl games. Joe Namath made his guarantee by a pool in Miami, then the Jets beat the Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III in 1969. The Colts won their only Super Bowl in 1971 in Miami. Joe Montana rallied the 49ers to a last minute 20-16 win over the Bengals in 1989.

But there also have been plenty of distractions for athletes tempted by all the fun. Bengals running back Stanley Wilson overdosed on cocaine before the game in 1989. The last time the Super Bowl was in Miami, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson solicited an undercover cop for sex the night before the game and was arrested. He ended up playing, but the Falcons lost to Denver, 34-19.

Teams walk a thin line when trying to protect their athletes from all the parties going on during Super Bowl week. Coaches want their players to have a good time, but don't want them stuck indoors, either. The Colts will have no curfew today, but one will be in place for the rest of the week.

"Miami is a great place for a Super Bowl. It's a great party town, but we're going down for business," Bears offensive tackle Fred Miller said. "We've got a lot of mature guys who know how to prepare for ballgames. We're going to make sure we do what needs to be done. I think our guys know what this game is all about and what we're there for."

Everyone else is there to party.

But what of the average Joe Bear and John Colt fan coming into town, eager to escape the cold and actually watch the football game? Better get ready to throw down some cash to have the same type of Super Bowl fun as the rich and famous.

"There's a lot to do, but if you want to get into the Maxim party, yes, you're going to have to drop some dollars," said Rick Ziminski, who runs two Bears fan Web sites, www.dabearz.com and www.dabears.com.

Many tickets to the game are going for $5,000 apiece, and hotels are charging exorbitant prices, especially on South Beach. The Hotel Victor, on Ocean Drive, had rooms for $2,100 a night with a four-night minimum. The luxury Setai hotel charged $1,100 a night with a seven-day minimum. At the Beacon, on Ocean Drive in South Beach, the cheapest rooms were going for $789 a night, all the way up to $1,489. This past weekend, those rooms were going for $169.

"When we set our rates, we look at our competition in order to set our bar," Fandino said. "You can find rooms cheaper, but for our type of hotel, they're typically going from the high $600s to the $1,000s."

But spending money is part of the whole Super Bowl experience. Especially at a place like South Beach.

"Miami is the Super Bowl everyone's been waiting for," said Kim Willis, senior director of integrated marketing for ESPN The Magazine, which is hosting its big "Next" party Friday. "It's going to be a gigantic experience beyond the game itself."

There are plenty of parties to keep everyone entertained. The two hottest are always the Playboy party and the Maxim party. The lavish soirees are mainly held to curry favor with the rich and glamorous. It is almost impossible for the average person to get into the elite parties like Playboy and Maxim. The only way is to get tickets through a broker, charging anywhere from $2,000 to $3,800.

But for parties without as much cache, you can pay a less exorbitant price. Penthouse is charging $1,000 for tickets on its Super Bowl party Web site. Another party, Leather and Laces featuring Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra, has tickets for sale on its Web site for $275.

This year, the Playboy party will be Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Among those expected to be there are Milano, Piven, Johnny Knoxville, Terrence Howard, Nick Carter and Billy Bob Thornton. And how could we forget-the Playboy bunnies will be there, too.

The Maxim party will be Friday night at an undisclosed hotel on South Beach that is going to be transformed into a St. Tropez-themed event. Sean Combs, Billy Joel, Michael Jordan, Matt Leinart and a host of others are expected.

The same night, ESPN The Magazine is hosting its party in the Design District of Miami. The party, sprawled over two blocks, will feature LL Cool J performing outdoors and will be open to a limited number of fans who come when the party starts in the early evening. Among the athletes expected: Cadillac Williams, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith, John Lynch and Ray Lewis.

There are plenty of other parties, too. Edgerrin James is having one on Thursday. John Travolta is hosting one with Marcus Allen. There is the Penthouse party Saturday night at Mansion, one of the hottest clubs on South Beach, featuring a performance by Snoop Dogg. Tickets also are $1,000 a person.

For those who don't have connections and don't want to spend thousands of dollars to party, the NFL is putting on a few fan events. The NFL Experience is always popular. There also is an official pep rally at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami on Saturday night with free admission.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.