Super Bowl: Madness In Manhattan as Football Comes to Town
New York City is used to its fair share of unusual sights, but even the city that never sleeps has been blown away by the spectacle that came with Super Bowl XLVIII this week.
Midtown Manhattan has been dominated by Super Bowl-themed attractions, including a toboggan run in Times Square as part of the Super Bowl Boulevard engineered by GMC.
Fans, football players and countless members of the media have been taking a ride down the icy chutes, which is part of a Broadway extravaganza from 34th to 47th streets.
On Thursday night, the Tony-nominated musical Rock of Ages took over the celebrations on the Roman Numeral Stage and will be part of the Tailgate Party entertainment on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.
At Macy's Herald Square, the focus has gone from fashion to football thanks to a virtual theater projected on the side of the iconic store. The 10-minute experience has high-tech graphics and an entrancing soundtrack to capture the energy of the NFL.
While ESPN is not broadcasting the big game, it has had a strong presence in the Big Apple during the biggest week on the NFL calendar.
"With events spread between in New York and New Jersey -- plus the cold weather -- the logistics have definitely been trickier and more complex than past Super Bowls," ESPN producer Seth Markman told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. "You have to deal with traffic and mass transit, but things have been spread out before in Florida and Arizona."
With the temperatures now expected to be in the mid-30s when the game kicks off at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, it will be chilly but not as brutally cold as many feared. "Ninety-nine percent of people don't care about the weather," revealed Markman. "True fans care more about how the game will be played."
As for the ESPN broadcast team, they've faced bitter conditions before. "Nothing can be colder than Fort Worth (Indiana)," joked the longtime producer, referring to Super Bowl XLVII, which was indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium, but the outside temperatures were torturous.
ESPN has broadcast 18 hours a day of live coverage from their specially built sets enclosed by glass in Times Square, Herald Square, and of course, at MetLife Stadium itself.
Although not afraid of snow, rain, wind or even New York tourists, Markman admitted that he would rather be in a warm climate. "Personally I would like to see it back in Miami and San Diego," he told THR. "But San Francisco is going to be amazing in 2016 -- what a great city in a fabulous new stadium!"
Fox NFL Sunday co-host Terry Bradshaw has made no qualms about his hatred of the cold location, however, saying on a conference call in the run-up to the weekend: "I just prefer the game being in good weather cities, not necessarily in NYC where you could get a blizzard or sleet. It should be a reward -- not necessarily for New York or the league -- but for the players.
"I am all about going somewhere where it is warm, where you can have fun -- all of our Super Bowls were like that: Florida, California. I don't quite understand why we're in New York," the four-time Super Bowl winner confessed.
Meanwhile, his Fox pregame co-host (and Live With Kelly and Michael co-host) Michael Strahan was putting on a braver face about the elements. "You just have to suck it up for us as a broadcast team. Is it cold? Oh, yeah! It is what it is. For me, find whatever joy you can find in it," he told reporters.
Even Hollywood has been on hand on Super Bowl Boulevard this week, as Kevin Costner's upcoming football film Draft Day had sneak peek screenings for the press.
Telling the tale of Sonny Weaver (Costner), an NFL general manager who has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the No. 1 pick, the movie also stars Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary and is directed by Ivan Reitman.
It will be released by Summit Entertainment on April 11, but viewers will get to see a new trailer during Sunday's commercial-rich game.