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Party planners hope to cash in on Super Bowl

February 2, 2012

For a couple of local party planners hosting swanky Super Bowl shindigs in Indianapolis, the big game could translate into big business beyond the 2012 event.

BMG Event Productions is in charge of ensuring that the high-profile Rolling Stone party—complete with A-list celebrities and popular sports stars—goes off without a hitch. And if it does, which BMG Executive Producer Pat Sechrist fully expects, the Super Bowl newcomer could be in line to capitalize on more NFL championships.

“We’re not a huge Super Bowl company, so Indianapolis has been a great introduction,” he said. “I will walk away with some great clients.”

Another local event planner, Image First, is also thinking to the future. The company is coordinating the Fantasy Bowl party for Indy Promotions Plus LLC in a 25,000-square-foot tent at Meridian and South streets.

Unlike competitor BMG, the company has worked events at the past five Super Bowls. Still, co-owner Bryan Schmidt would like to increase its involvement.

“Our plan is to showcase our talent and have that exposed going forward,” he said, “and to use Indianapolis as a platform.”

BMG is the elder of the two firms. Formed in 2005, it’s a division of parent Business Media Group and has helped plan Indianapolis 500 events every May.

The company hooked up with Rolling Stone through client The Crane Bay Event Center, headed by former Indianapolis Colt Gary Padjen. Padjen expects to spend more than $2 million total to renovate a downtown warehouse building and pick up a share of expenses for staging two massive events hosted by the music magazine Saturday and Sunday.

The center at 551 W. Merrill St. will feature several bands over Super Bowl weekend. An outdoor tent has been added just east of the building for a tailgate event, pushing capacity to near 3,000 people.

On Saturday, rum maker Bacardi will stage “Bacardi Bash: 150 Years Rocking the Party.” With ticket prices set at $999, the event will feature musical acts Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, LMFAO and Lupe Fiasco.

Alternative rockers Jane’s Addiction and hip-hop band The Roots will play the “Rock and Roll Fan Tailgate" on game day Feb. 5. Tickets are $500.

BMG was not responsible for booking entertainment. But it is providing promotion and production for the performances, as well as other support. That includes management, security and event logistics.

“We’re responsible for the 'wow' factor,” Sechrist said. “It’s one of the biggest parties we’ve handled.”

Sechrist and BMG’s lead producer have been at the facility “every night, all night” and the company has teams there “around the clock” preparing for the festivities, he said.

On top of that, BMG is producing an NFL alumni Super Bowl tailgate party on Sunday at Cadillac Ranch on South Meridian Street and is commandeering the second and third floors of the former Jillian’s entertainment complex, also on South Meridian, for its Cuda Lounge.

“We really only spend 20 percent of our time in Indianapolis, so it’s really cool to be in your hometown producing events of this caliber,” Sechrist said. “It’s going to mean a great first quarter.”

Meanwhile, Image First’s Fantasy Bowl at 31 S. Meridian St. will feature rapper Snoop Dogg on Friday and DJ Paulie D DelVecchio on Saturday. Tickets are $95 each night and $250 on Sunday for what Schmidt of Image First is billing as the “ultimate tailgate.”

An open bar, buffet, live entertainment and two 20-foot-high video walls will be within the 25,000-square-foot structure on Sunday.

Image First also is planning and producing parties at Super Lounge 46, the former Borders space at West Washington and South Meridian streets leased by South Florida sports agent Howard Jaffe.

Rapper Nelly will perform Friday along with disc jockey Spinderella from 1980s hip-hop duo Salt-n-Pepa. Spinderella will be the featured entertainment on Saturday as well. Tickets are $175 for each night.

Ivanka Trump is set to appear on Sunday at Super Lounge 46 party, for which tickets are $70 or $90.

In addition, Image First is planning a private party at the Emmis Communications Inc. headquarters on Monument Circle. Hennessey at Emmis is set to feature hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa.

Image First executives began using the Fox and Hound restaurant in Carmel for brainstorming sessions on how they might capitalize on the Super Bowl.

Now, they’re about ready to see their work pay off.

“We were exploring every single opportunity, because you never know where it could lead,” Schmidt said. “We’ve went from some highs to some very low lows.”
 
If BMG and Image First pursue more Super Bowl work in future years, they may want to turn to New York-based Engine Shop for advice. The event planner, which also has an office in Miami, has been involved in 13 Super Bowls.

In Indianapolis, it’s planning parties for ESPN and DirecTV. ESPN’s party on Friday features hip-hop artist Drake and will honor Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as the pro football’s “NEXT” great athlete. Limited tickets are $825.

DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl party is free to the public Saturday at Victory Field.

The three parties are the fewest Super Bowl events Engine Shop has been involved in, simply because it’s harder to attract as many celebrities to come to a cold-weather city such as Indianapolis, company CEO Brian Gordon said.

Still, he’s confident the events will help make the weekend a success.

“There’s this initial reaction that it’s going to be cold and it’s going to be bad weather,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be a great Super Bowl. The big parties are still going to happen.”
 

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