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EVENT REPORT

ESPN Opens Party to the Public

Despite cutting back on Super Bowl spending, the mag took over two blocks in the Design District to host a party for 10,000.

At the Nascar Pit Crew Challenge at the block party, guests learned how to quickly service Richard Petty's racing car alongside a real crew team.

Aiming to make its Super Bowl party this year bigger and better than those in the past, ESPN the Magazine took over a prime Miami locale to host a carnivalesque block party for locals and tourists. The magazine eschewed the multiday party format it took on last year in order to host one big party. “Our budget would have had to be four times the size of last year’s for us to do what we did in Detroit,” said the magazine’s senior director of integrated marketing, Kim Willis. “We decided that overall, we wanted to improve our return on investment on this event and deliver a really healthy number to the company.”
 

Designed to tie in with the “Next” issue, which lists what will be hot in the world of sports in the upcoming year, ESPN’s party gave the masses a chance to test the high-tech gadgets previously available only to the pros. “We’re bringing all the items in the ‘Next’ issue to life,” Willis said. “We have been trying to do this for the last couple of years, and I think the block party marks the first time that we’re really making it happen.” Interactive attractions included a high-tech virtual pitch simulator and a device that helps NFL pros improve their catching skills. While the attractions were free, guests did have to pay for food from local vendors and for Diageo alcoholic beverages.

In addition to the public party, the magazine hosted a V.I.P. party for 1,500 in the adjacent Moore Building. Currently a Zaha Hadid exhibit, the space required little in terms of decor. “We choose venues with awe factor, which means we don’t have to spend time and money on decor,” Willis said. “Instead, we were able to spend on lighting or other details.” Each of the building’s four floors had a different theme, including a water installation from Vitamin Water, an all-white lounge courtesy of Playstation3, and a lounge designed by tennis star Venus Williams, who unveiled her new interior decorating line.

Courtney Thompson, with reporting by Albert del Toral

Photos: Getty Images (LL Cool J)

Posted 02.04.07

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