23 Days: The ultimate booze cruise

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
3:17
PM ET
Hotel RenderingCourtesy of Anheuser-Busch If New York can handle Fleet Week, it'll survive the Super Bowl's massive Bud Light Hotel on Pier 88.
Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 23 days until the Super Bowl.

So much of the Super Bowl experience is exclusive -- parties and suites, impossible dinner reservations at the best restaurants. But at the Bud Light Hotel and surrounding events the week leading up to the Super Bowl, anywhere from 200 to 400 people will win their way in through promotions the company has planned.

“The amount of attention that the Super Bowl brings with it has enabled partners of the NFL and in some cases companies who aren’t partners, to take advantage of all the exposure opportunities,” NFL VP of events Frank Supovitz said. “What’s been very interesting is that our partners have begun to do public events, not just private events.”

The Bud Light Hotel will be a brand new cruise ship that docks on the West Side next to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. There will be more than 4,000 rooms in the hotel, most of which will go to corporate partners and some promotional winners. Bud Light will host a few events at the museum next door and build a concert venue in a parking lot that can hold 4,000 fans.

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“To be honest, this idea seemed a little too big at first,” said Bud Light VP Rob McCarthy. “But when we came back to it, the reward was certainly worth the risk.”

Too big indeed.

There was a recent story citing some community board resistance to this modern day Bateau Ivre. It may be worth noting that Fleet Week is held here, and in 2012 it brought 21 ships from around the world to New York. If Hell’s Kitchen, which is apparently mistaking itself for a New York suburb, can handle Fleet Week, a four-day boat should be a walk in Riverside Park.

Bud Light has commandeered a hotel in Super Bowl cities for a few years, but wanted to do something special in New York. McCarthy said the company looked at hotels and concert spaces, but weren’t able to find sites as close and as self-contained as they wanted.

“After last year we really wanted to see how we could make a mark in New York City,” McCarthy said.

The company actually begin planning on the morning of last year’s Super Bowl.

The cruise ship will dock on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, as Bud Light plans concerts and parties for Thursday (The Roots and Run DMC), Friday (Imagine Dragons), Saturday (Foo Fighters) and a Fall Out Boy tailgate and Super Bowl-watching party for game day.

Those tickets aren’t for sale. But they can be won during various promotions leading up to the game.

“There’s more that’s been made available to anybody who wants to go,” Supovitz said. “The opportunity to engage with a customer or fan is just incredibly magnified at a time they are the most excited and passionate about what’s going on around them.”

The NFL has also put together Super Bowl Boulevard, the interpretation of the NFL fan experience for New York City. It will be on Broadway from the mid-30s to the mid-40s, and feature a 60-foot toboggan run. Tickets for that feature will be $5.

“The Super Bowl has always been an incredible game and that’s the reason it exists, but it’s also become an American cultural institution,” Supovitz said.

And this year that American experience includes Norwegian Cruise Lines. After the Super Bowl leaves town, the Bud Light Hotel will turn back into a cruise ship -- and set out on a career of more conventional voyages.

Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.
Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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