Over the next six weeks, some of the biggest events in sports will take place: The NHL All-Star Game (Jan. 29), Super Bowl LI (Feb. 5), the NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 19), the Daytona 500 (Feb. 26) and NCAA men’s and women’s basketball March Madness.
What also comes with these competitions are fan festivals, where official marketers, brands and sponsors get up-close and personal with fans and consumers.
Prior to the NHL game in Los Angeles will be the FanFair, covering 250,000 square feet in the L.A. Convention Center, where such league partners as Bridgestone, Upper Deck and Discover will activate alongside hockey players and legends celebrating the NHL Centennial season.
Super Bowl LI comes with two fan-specific events.
Super Bowl Live, a 10-day outdoor event under the auspices of the Houston Super Bowl host committee, is expecting more than one million people to visit the downtown footprint, with on-site presence from the likes of presenting sponsor Verizon, Bud Light and GE.
According to Host Committee President and CEO Sallie Sargen, “Super Bowl Live is an opportunity for everyone … to enjoy a great Super Bowl experience and be a part of the excitement.”
Concurrently, the NFL Experience Driven by Genesis will be inside the George R. Brown Convention Center. It will feature such sections as the FedEx Air and Ground Challenge, Castrol Training Camp, Bridgestone Competition, the Under Armour Obstacle Course and the Snickers Hail Mary Field, as well as the NFL Shop presented by Visa.
The NBA will bring a lot of NOLA flair to the All-Star Game in New Orleans, with its fan-fest part of an umbrella platform that includes the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, the NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire and the NBA D-League Slam Dunk presented by Verizon.
The 59th Daytona 500 is not just the iconic race but the Fanzone, which this year comes with naming rights from the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) (which in 1992 offered the nation’s first high-performance motorsports degree program). Perhaps the most hands-on fan event of them all, it encompasses 211,636 square feet on the Daytona Raceway infield, allowing for many of Nascar’s marketing partners to set up shop and for people to meet drivers and legends of the sport, walk on part of the actual track, eat in the Budweiser Bistro and shop in the Fanatics Infield Superstore.
According to UNOH President Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis, “We have UNOH graduates working in all facets of motorsports . . . The UNOH Fanzone experience will bring to life what our students experience in the classroom and shop every day.”
March Madness Div. I hoops championships this season will be held in the University of Phoenix Stadium (men’s) and American Airlines Center in Dallas (women’s).
The men’s Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One and the women’s Tourney Town presented by Capital One are part of larger fan-oriented events that also include activation from AT&T, Coca-Cola, Reese’s and Pizza Hut, among other NCAA partners.
“The fan events at the Final Four continue to grow as fun and exciting activities all weekend for everyone, regardless of whether they have a ticket to the basketball games,” said Dan Gavitt, Vice President for NCAA men’s basketball championships. “NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners do an amazing job lending their support to all of the fan activities, many of which are free or family-cost friendly.”