Miami Dolphins Ronnie Brown, Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, and Davone Bess were among the NFL players scheduled to appear today at NFL Game Day Fan Plaza – the football activities area adjacent to Sun Life Stadium.
The Fan Plaza area, which is open to the public for a few hours today, and only to Super Bowl ticket holders next Sunday, is part of the league’s answer to the NFL Experience – the giant football-themed activities area that’s become a signature of Super Bowls.
With the Super Bowl just in South Florida three years ago, league officials were looking for ways to vary the experience for local fans. They shelved the NFL Experience and brought the Pro Bowl and some of its trappings instead, including Fan Plaza, the open Pro Bowl practice yesterday at Lockhart Stadium, and free concert on Fort Lauderdale Beach next Saturday.
“We designed a calendar of events that was specifically designed to recognize we were just here three years ago, and we didn’t want to do all of the same things, so that’s part of the reason the Pro Bowl is here this year,” said Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president of special events. “Pro Bowl is the key fan engagement opportunity and provides our fans with the opportunity to see the players all in one place that they’re looking at only in posters and décor around NFL Experience.”
Still, the move didn’t sit well with a number of fans, whose favorite Super Bowl activity is the NFL Experience.
“To be honest with you, I’m glad they miss it, that’s a good sign, that means we had a great event, that was meaningful to the community,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “So we’ll take all that into consideration, and see if there’s a role for both of those, where we could play the Pro Bowl and the NFL Experience. It’s something we’ll certainly address as we go forward.”
The NFL Experience will be back when the Super Bowl is held in North Texas at the home of the Dallas Cowboys next year.
For more from Goodell, read my Q&A with him in the Sun Sentinel’s Outlook section here. He addressed the Pro Bowl, future Super Bowls in South Florida, labor and other issues.
And, you know how everything is sponsored – Pepsi was all over at Lockhart Stadium yesterday; McDonald’s is the Pro Bowl sponsor. Even the parking lot at Sun Life Stadium where the media is parking for the Pro Bowl has Snickers as a sponsor – says so on our parking passes.