Keith Urban, a veteran of N.F.L. events, performed for about 45 minutes for the local fans as well as during the live pregame show that aired nationally.
Photo: Tony Brown/imijphoto.com for BizBash
The National Football League kicked off its season Thursday night in Baltimore, home of Super Bowl XXXV winners the Ravens, with a free concert from country star Keith Urban and a V.I.P party where guests could watch the show and stay for the broadcast of the football game.
Since 2002 the league has traveled to the hometown of the previous season’s champions for the official kickoff, which includes nearly a week's worth of events culminating with a concert aired live during the pregame show. Baltimore would have hosted the actual game, as well, but it moved to Denver because of a scheduling conflict with the Orioles baseball team.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor hosted the city's festivities. StageCo Staging Group built the concert stage on a barge, framed by the city skyline, just outside the Maryland Science Center, home to the night’s 650-person V.I.P. preparty. “Every year we look for that iconic spot so you know where you are,” said Tracy Perlman, vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions for the N.F.L. “We always look for what it is about the host city that people will remember.”
V.I.P.s got an early start to the celebrations at the science center two hours before the concert. PEDG and Production Glue rebranded the venue with three floors of Bud Light lounge areas, bars, and tables as well as numerous TV and projection screens for viewing the pregame show, concert, and Ravens vs. Denver Broncos football game.
With a nearly six-hour event to cater, Aramark provided a variety of food options as the night progressed. Among the offerings were passed seafood bites such as crab claws and oysters as well as high-end tailgating items including mac 'n' cheese topped with buffalo chicken bites, pulled pork tacos, and Maryland crab cake sandwiches.
Aramark set up food stations in the lobby for the first two hours of the party for the appetizers and antipasti. As the crowd grew and the concert and kickoff time neared, the higher floors opened to serve heavier fare and dessert in additional lounge spaces—including one dedicated to the Ravens.
Outside, nearly 42,000 people flooded into the barricaded area on the waterfront for Urban’s 45-minute performance, which aired on NBC and culminated in a fireworks, laser, and water show. The broadcast then moved to Denver for the game, which was also screened indoors for event guests.
Here’s a look inside the spectacle.