As Levi’s Stadium crew members clean the confetti off the field and hose down the champagne from the Denver Broncos’ locker room, the Bay Area steadily returns to normal. Not many cities get the opportunity to host a mega event like the Super Bowl, and the who’s who of relevancy, from sports, entertainment, and business, all converged in San Francisco this past week. Being born and raised in the Bay Area, I can say that this type of immense spotlight is a rarity for most local residents.
The Super Bowl is not just a game; it’s a modern day spectacle. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you feel obliged to tune-in just to be part of the extravaganza, watching the attention-grabbing commercials (puppy monkey baby?), Beyonce and Bruno Mars shut down the halftime show, and oh yea, which team won. Super Bowl 50 drew 111.9 million viewers, which made it the third most-watched program in U.S. TV history. This meant that 35% of the entire US population watched the game, with a majority of those individuals falling in the valuable 18-49 year old consumer demographic. And you wonder why companies are willing to fork over $5 million for a thirty second commercial during the Super Bowl.
Football is the most popular sport in the US, but does the Super Bowl warrant the amount of egregious hype it gets every single year? Outside of Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos fans (and gamblers who have money on the game), how many people were actually emotionally attached to the outcome of the game? I was at a Super Bowl party this past Sunday, and half the people were just there to indulge in snacks and have their own hangout session. It’s like the American audience has been conditioned to revel around the Super Bowl or else feel excluded from “the crowd”. And for those living in the host city, you’re practically forced to “experience” the Super Bowl, like it or not.
As mentioned, its a rare opportunity to have such a prominent spectacle in you’re backyard. A lot of people I knew in the Bay got to enjoy cool events, concerts, and parties. It brings the community together and there’s a sense of pride when boasting that your home hosted the Super Bowl. However, Super Bowl 50 was held in Santa Clara, which is about 45 miles south of San Francisco. Even when the game took place outside of the city, San Francisco still spent $5 million to host it, which produced significant criticism from residents. They saw their city infiltrated by the NFL and other large companies who made San Francisco a corporate billboard, while shaking up the local dynamic. Add the tidbit that the Super Bowl is usually unprofitable to the host city, and you get a a mixed bag of opinions. I reached out to a few of my local friends to hear what they thought:
Anonymous Bay Area Native and Novice Sports Enjoyer
I’m sure that people can debate for days about the pros and cons of Super Bowl 50 being held at our beloved Levi’s stadium. And they have, as proven by hours of local media coverage spanning from energizing KNBR interviews at Super Bowl City, to a NPR debate between San Francisco city leaders arguing whether the NFL host committee needs to reimburse San Francisco, as well as Santa Clara, for the nation’s largest sporting event, to the collaborative spotlight on a disturbing link between Super Bowls and sex trafficking.
The build up to Super Bowl 50 is more informative and exciting than I remember it being years past, perhaps because it is just down the street. While it hasn’t changed my day to day routine, I will definitely be avoiding driving into Santa Clara or San Francisco at 3:30pm February 7th. I am humbled by the wealth of information shed about the behind the scenes intricacies of hosting a Super Bowl, but will not deny having a blast running the 40-yard dash at the Embarcadero NFL Experience or looking forward to bonding with friends and family over chicken wings and silly prop bets.
Jennifer Nguyen, Web Designer, Artist, Event Planner & Philanthropist
There are a lot of things happening in response to Super Bowl City. I’m sure you’ve heard about the overpriced Lobster Rolls, long lines, and common complaints people have, but here’s a few more things to take note:
- The city spent so much money, but no one is missing out on not being there. It’s underwhelming, lots of corporate logos, and it’s disheartening to see so many cops in tactical gear carrying around their AR-15’s, in addition to the snipers camped out on top of various buildings.
- There are many protests to how the homeless and vendors were treated when they were forced to move out of the area.
- The city has been confiscating tents that various NPO’s have donated to the homeless (for cold weather, El Nino) and are forcing them to move to hide them away from tourists
- The vendors who normally set up shop selling hand made necklaces, farmers market, etc. for their own livelihood were forced out as well.
- The traffic is horrendous from all the street closures and detours. Super Bowl City sits very close to a busy part of Market St. and to the freeway entrances. Many companies have encouraged working form home due to how fuckin’ nuts it is.
- The tall lit-up signs leading to Super Bowl City have TV screens that count down to Super Bowl 50. However, when you stand afar and stare down, it looks like a bunch of giant lit-up dicks leading down Market St. There’s so much more to talk about but I’ll end this rant with the lit-up DICKS.
Sheelvrat Pathak, Sports Aficionado, Marketing Professional
The Super Bowl is just a game but its transformed into an American holiday. SF felt like the center of the US for about 2 weeks with the media, black cars, famous personalities and middle America converging into just a 7×7 space. The local economy gained a boost with literally every restaurant and bar brimming with a variety of people. There seemed to be something for everybody: The game, the musical acts, the ads, the house parties, the food and booze. My friends and I had an opportunity to take a half day and field trip it out to Super Bowl City where I saw grown men act, play, and geek out like teenagers. Myself included.
The diverse range in opinion is expected of from a free-thinking region like the Bay Area, as I’m sure that there was a line drawn down between those who enjoyed having the Super Bowl in town and those that didn’t. So was the Super Bowl good for San Francisco? There’s no consensus answer, as it’s pretty subjective depending on the person. Overall, I think that the game brought a lot of excitement to the Bay Area and gave people a chance to experience something very unique. The Super Bowl is a one of a kind extravaganza that a majority of people will never afford to go to, so just having it in your city allows people to be part of the celebration even if they can’t go to the actual game. I think the bigger question might be why do we make such as big deal about the Super Bowl?