NFL steals Indy’s Super Bowl idea, but shelves its moniker

The NFL loved the idea of the Super Bowl Village pioneered last year by the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.

But NFL officials apparently didn’t love the name. At least they didn’t love it as much as the one they’ve now invented. Or maybe someone in the league’s ivory tower just wanted to put their stamp on a great idea created here.

In any event, the NFL has made having a Super Bowl Village-like experience mandatory for all Super Bowl host cities starting with this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.

But instead of calling it Super Bowl Village, it will be called Super Bowl Boulevard. To me, Super Bowl Village sounds more grandiose and inviting than a mere boulevard. But nevertheless, at least NFL officials knew a good idea when they saw it.

In fairness, Indianapolis didn’t invent the idea of creating a village like atmosphere—a compact area of attractions where fans can gather. 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee CEO Allison Melangton imported it from the Olympics. Melangton has worked at several Olympic Games and thought the concept would fit nicely into Indianapolis’ compact downtown during the week of the big game.

Indy’s host committee chairman Mark Miles also imported some elements he’d seen work at international tennis events during his time as the CEO of the ATP Tour.

In large part thanks to the Village—which included games, concerts and a zip line—more than 1.1 million people poured into downtown last year, pushing attendance for the adjacent NFL Experience attraction to record highs. That meant more money for the league.

So this year, New Orleans will do their best to duplicate Indy’s village experience.

“Although we’ve held this event many times before, Indianapolis broke a lot of ground, and we’ve learned many things from them,” said Jay Cicero, executive director of New Orleans’ host committee.

Despite the new league-mandated brand of Super Bowl Boulevard, the area doesn’t have to be on city streets as it was last year in Indianapolis. New Orleans will stage its Boulevard on 800,000 square feet in Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River. Festival Productions, which operates New Orleans’ jazz festival, will run Super Bowl Boulevard.

This year’s Super Bowl Boulevard will feature 15 food booths serving up local favorites, four music stages and the NFL Network set. It will be sponsored by Verizon and officially carry the moniker of Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard.

Copying—or even having—an idea is one thing. The key to success is in the execution.

New Orleans’ Super Bowl Boulevard opens tomorrow and with it the Big Easy’s chance to build on what Indianapolis began.

Indy’s tenure as Super Bowl host in 2012 was called one of the best ever. In 10 days time, we’ll know where the 2013 host stands.

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