FLORIDA Continued from previous page
On Saturday, Jim Little of the Loop Group organized the Taste of the NFL, which took place at the ATP International Headquarters/Bolles School in Ponte Vedra. Transforming a school campus into a red-carpet food and wine affair was no small feat, especially when rain soaked the grounds just days before the event. But Audio Visual Innovations (AVI) pulled it off, creating a plush environment for this party with a purpose. It took 90 moving lights, 96 moving projectors, 40 speakers, and seven tents spread over 400,000 square feet of carpet on the campus's tennis courts to create the tasting party, which featured chefs from each of the NFL's 35 cities showcasing their finest cuisine, all to raise money for America's Second Harvest Food Bank. Because the party was held on a school campus and the ATP's headquarters, AVI was faced with the challenge of creating a natural flow between the tents (provided by Peerless Event Partners for the event), which is usually held indoors. It took 10 days to set everything up. The setup also required the construction of walkways. Using two-by-five wooden planks, AVI built plywood sidewalks where there were none, covering them with red carpet to connect each tent to the next.
On the way to the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts den, six Xbox gaming stations sat ready for players, while the Taste of the NFL image was projected onto the school buildings. Dim lighting set the mood inside each tent. Fresh flowers and foliage were abundant, and audiovisual screens hung above each table. A majority of the tables were set in a square shape in the center of the room. Guests perused the food, nibbling dishes such as creamy polenta with mascarpone and truffle oil; Oaxacan green mole pork; and seared red snapper with artichoke ragout, chive oil, and balsamic syrup. Over each table hung four- by six-foot screens displaying team logos, chef information, and real-time updates of a silent auction, also going on in canopy tents.
Available all weekend for retailers, athletes, celebrities, and other V.I.P.s was the Reebok Hospitality Suite. With little space readily available to host major events, Martha Smith, event producer for Reebok International, came to Jacksonville armed with a $100,000 budget, a six-month lead time, and the need to put together an event that would work for both hospitality and business meetings. Finding no downtown venue ready to use, Reebok set out to create its own space. Smith found a vacant building within a block of the prime hotel rooms located in the Adams Mark. The space had vines growing inside, as well as four-legged tenants. In places, the floor had fallen through. But by Super Bowl weekend, Smith and her team had created a hospitality suite with two conference rooms in almost constant use Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.
With the help of Fandango Special Events, seven vignettes of furniture from the company's so-called “funkiture” line were set throughout the space. Funkiture is predominantly contemporary, but for Reebok, the company brought in more conservative cream-colored armchairs and sofas, along with brown leather and microfiber pieces, all of which sat atop area rugs. They also created a 21-foot-long mahogany bar complete with brass rails and fittings, as well as branded brushed-aluminum barstools and 42-inch-tall cocktail tables with the Reebok logo. Local catering company Front Page Catering kept guests well fed, while Wilson Empire played music for all to enjoy. Most of the space was set up for entertaining, with a pool table that had substituted Patriots and Eagles logos for stripes and solids, video games for kids of all ages, and several video feeds about the game.
All these parties primed guests for the real reason Jacksonville was the place to be-the game. Paul McCartney headlined the Ameriquest Mortgage Super Bowl XXXIX Halftime Show. He was almost upstaged by the stage, which featured projected images of athletes, dazzling lighting effects, and separate areas for the other musicians, courtesy of Don Mischer Productions, who hired Tait Towers from Pennsylvania to create it.
Vanessa Goyanes, John Horan, Juana Jordan, Felina Martin, and Shari Lynn Rothstein