On Friday night ESPN the Magazine hosted its annual Next Big Weekend party at the Fontainebleau. Nearly 2,800 athletes, celebrities, sponsors, and ESPN executives—nearly twice as many as last year—attended the event, which took place in a 25,000-square-foot pink-lit tent on the property’s back lawn, and spilled into the hotel's bar La Côte and restaurant Blade.
Bucking tradition, this year the brand opted to nix its all-day fan experience event, typically held on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. “We came to the conclusion that Miami is a different market than Tampa, and while it worked well there [last year] within the same footprint where we had our Friday night party, it wouldn’t have necessarily had that same success in Miami,” said Alyssa Muenkel, ESPN’s project manager for the event.
Tony Schubert at Los Angeles-based Event Eleven designed the event. Classic Party Rentals created the clear span tent with multiple levels to create different areas for guests. White tufted sofas lined two sides of the tent, providing seating for V.I.P.s.
MMG worked with Muenkel and the event’s nine sponsors to design brand activations in different areas of the tent, as well as the nearby pool bar La Côte, where Bridgestone stacked its tires to create cocktail tables. Absolut was the evening's main alcohol sponsor, with several custom bars. Reebok, Snickers, and Bud Light also had activations.
After walking the 65-foot red carpet, select celebrities and athletes stopped by the Samsung Interview Tent for a chat with Nelly. ESPN’s digital media team coordinated the on-site interviews, which aired that night on ESPN.com. The team also streamed live footage from the party onto the site.
Entertainment came in the form of R&B artists Ne-Yo and Keri Hilson, who performed for 30 and 15 minutes respectively, on the stage at the far end of the tent, beginning around 1 a.m.