Commentary

NFL Experience Sacked During First-Year Opening Drive

In December 2017, the NFL Experience opened in New York’s Time Square with much fanfare and a guest list that included NFL commissioner Roger Goodall and Michael Strahan.

This Sunday (Sept. 30), the 40,000-square-foot interactive destination will shut down, the victim in part of inflated expectations and underachieving numbers.

Industry analysts pointed to two key factors for the attraction’s downfall: high-priced tickets ($37 for adults, $29 for kids) and underwhelming marketing support from the league itself.

Another factor was the prohibitive cost of nearly $2,000 per square foot to occupy the space, according to real estate analysts.

There were some indications this past May that the destination, operated by the NFL and Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, was experiencing problems. That was when NFLX president Danny Boockvar, who had been involved with NFL Experience for about a year prior to its opening, was replaced by Michael Williams.

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“We, unfortunately, have to end our season early,” the NFL Experience operators posted on its Web site. “We will be permanently closing our doors on Sept. 30, 2018.”

According to NFL Experience, “Opening a football destination in the heart of New York City has been quite an adventure! We hope you had a blast going from the practice field to the Super Bowl, measuring up against our sport’s greatest champions, learning complex game strategies and even celebrating with the Vince Lombardi trophy.”

No word yet on what will happen to NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” which moved into studios in NFL Experience this past May and which continues to broadcast live every weekday.

Also no word on the immediate future of the NFL Experience space, located in the 20 Times Square complex, which is also the site of Hershey’s Chocolate World retail store.

The property is owned by Maefield Development, which said it plans to build a 39-story hotel and retail project there, to feature a 450-plus room Marriott Edition.

The NFL Experience also includes memorabilia from every NFL team, rings from every Super Bowl, a 4D rollercoaster theater called “The Stadium” and other interactive and hands-on activation.

Through Sept. 28, the NFL Experience is offering an online offer: buy one ticket, get one free (limit 19). Merchandise inside is being offered at 50% off.

“We partnered with Cirque du Soleil to create a captivating and authentic football experience that enables fans to step into the locker room and onto the field of an NFL stadium,” Goodall said at the time of NFL Experience’s grand opening.

“Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to the game, NFL Experience Times Square takes you on an unforgettable journey where you enter as a fan, become a player, and leave as a Super Bowl champion.”

The NFL Experience employed about 90 people.

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