January 24, 2014 Updated: January 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In an effort to make Super Bowl fans learn to love upstate New York in the dead of winter, tourism officials are planning a half-dozen parties and displays encouraging that crowd to eat the state's foods, drink its beverages and play in its ice and snow.
While the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks play football Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium at the New Jersey Meadowlands, the spillover crowd will far exceed the 82,000 holders of high-priced tickets. The NFL championship game is one of the largest sports and entertainment spectacles in the world.
It's expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to nearby New York City and the 13 blocks of Broadway that will be called "Super Bowl Boulevard." Officials with the "I Love NY" campaign plan to erect a quarter-block video park by Wednesday showing statewide attractions, from skiing down mountains in winter to canoeing the backcountry in summer. Volunteers will hand out discounts to upstate ski resorts, a spokesman said.
The point is getting the mass of midtown visitors to consider New York's "unmatched beauty" while tasting its "world-class products," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "The Super Bowl is our opportunity to show off our state."
In the state budget, Cuomo and legislators allocated a $5 million grant for the Super Bowl Host Committee, according to the governor's office.
On Tuesday, the committee is scheduled to host a party at Pier 60 at Manhattan's Chelsea Piers that's expected to draw more than 3,500 members of the media, with a "Taste NY station" of state-produced food, wine and spirits.
The committee plans to open a New York and New Jersey lounge on Wednesday, with The Lambs Club on the boulevard serving local food and beverages through the week. That will require a credential from the committee to enter. It's also hosting a Wednesday night bash for Super Bowl planners and event partners, which is expected to draw 1,000 to 1,500 people to Gotham Hall in Manhattan for more state fare.
An NFL annual charity tasting event is scheduled for the Saturday before the game, with chefs and players representing the 32 teams. New York will have food from city restaurants and craft beers from Utica, Syracuse and Brooklyn and distilled spirits from the Hudson Valley. Proceeds will benefit hunger-relief organizations, including three in the city.
The committee is scheduled to do it again with a pre-game party for 2,500 people on Sunday at the Meadowlands Racetrack Clubhouse with more homegrown meats, produce, cheeses and spirits.