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Super Bowl Host Venues (UK)


#1

Hey All,

For me each SB comes around with the same old question, where shall we watch it this year!?

The SuperBash was only ever accessible to those lucky enough to win tickets or lucky enough to know somebody who could work some magic. Beyond that event there was little choice but with the cancellation of SuperBash a number of other events sprung up this year and so it would seem a good time to chuck up a thread reviewing the options out there.

Hoping some others would sling by drop of their thoughts on their own Super Bowl night…

Lets start with SB 50 @ The Hipp…


#2

Super Bowl 50 @ The Hipp

When you grow up in a low profile town some place out in the sticks like myself you most likely develop your perception of casino’s from James Bond movies. That is until the first time you walk into one as a young man who has since moved away to a location less like Mormon life. Most casino’s I have been in as an adult have offered little sign of a Martini never mind 007 himself. Usually they offer half empty rooms with an obvious lack of the female form and with bouncers looking a little too grim for their only slightly sophisticated attire. The lighting is often poor & the atmosphere resembles something akin to your neighbour’s creepy cellar.

In my honest opinion the same cannot be said for the Hippodrome London. Yes there is always room for improvement however the Hipp is generally a classy establishment. Situated in Leicester Square it’s a great place to meet up with friends, everybody can find Leicester Square right? The surrounding area offers a vast array of places to eat and drink in good company regardless of time or day. The bouncers at the front door are not actually bouncers, rather they are doormen who get that they are not working for your standard gambling den. Inside the decor has had a lot of thought put into it and it’s hard not be impressed the first time you stroll through the corridor to meet the hustle & bustle across 3 different floors. Indeed James Bond might actually consider stopping by this venue and there are women too! The more I explore this place the more I find it amuses me. If you go down stairs don’t be surprised to find some attractive & dressed women dancing on tables in some form of clean & tame version of table top. Even the “outdoor” smoking area smacks of coolness in that it gives the smoker in us the option of “getting fresh air” while also having cover from the hard rain just a few metres away. There is something pretty neat about the ability to chat, drink and cane the roulette table all while outside in the core of winter.

Just Because…

So what about the football?

I’m getting to it ; )
Way back in the day the Hippodrome served up circus & variety performances, decades later it’s great to see the Matcham theatre still goes strong. These days the auditorium typically serves up cabaret Monday to Saturday evenings so during the NFL season Thursday & Monday night football can only be watched on 2 to 3 reasonably large screens which are located in different areas of the casino. These screens are ok but are no match for the Large screen in the theatre which is opened up to NFL on Sunday nights. During the season and post season leading up to the Super Bowl there is enough seating in the theatre for 100 approx and in my opinion the theatre is the best place in London to watch the game (Sunday nights) through the regular 17 game season and playoffs.

Comfy Seats, Plenty of Space, Lots of Goodness…

Super Bowl?

Let’s start with the good.
You can buy a ticket which was not possible at all venues hosting similar events such as the o2 in previous years, the £20 ticket is not cheap but then I guess they would advise that the location and quality of venue are worth it. As we found our seats in the theatre they surprised us with several comedians who ran through really enjoyable topical routines. A series of nice but glum looking gals bring the food, beer and change right to you & based on my friends stat monitoring there is at the very least free “make do” WIFI.

The bad.
The theatre takes on a different dimension for the Super Bowl, the Hipp spotted an opportunity to earn and they went at it full tilt. Rather than seat 100 they added seating for as much as 160. The more the merrier you might say but this is not the case when sitting in a small auditorium. The effect of adding seats moves away from straight rows facing the screen and introduces a very serious arc to the seating arrangement. The lucky “those in the centre of the room” will have a great view and yet their buddies who were not quite so fast will have an unpleasant viewing angle to deal with. We were a group of nine this year and it was our first time to the Hippodrome for the Super Bowl. I think it’s fair to say that at least five of our group were rightly unhappy with the view they had. I sat out widest of all and my viewing angle of the huge screen must have been a 75 degree angle, absolutely unwatchable! To be fair to the staff they acknowledged that many had spent good money on a poor seat by standing up a 32" TV, three feet away from our faces. In addition to the poor viewing angle the comfortable looking chairs above were replaced with much more basic, smaller seats which were squashed together to ensure everybody had zero personal space. One small selling point the Hippodrome waved around was the serving of American classics all night long. Well, let’s just say I saw one of my friends rightly turn away some nachos which were not as ordered and another friend was right to express his disappointment at “seriously hot” wings being the only flavour available.

Dont let this image full you, the person sitting at this angle did quite well…

The Hippodrome advertises itself as being open 24 hours, it is indeed but the same cannot be said for the bars within. Shortly after the SB finished our people were asked to move upstairs where a bar would remain open however not long after this all bars closed for the night. A little disappointing for those waiting on trains home.

Final Verdict?

The Hipp knew they had a great chance to position it’s venue as the de facto standard for watching the NFL in and around London, I know they knew this because when the SuperBash event cancelled I told them… I generally really like what the Hippodrome has to offer and I was in the process of talking people into joining me here for the big game, suffice to say that it was in my interest for the venue to pull out all the stops. Sadly what occurred was more akin to finding a cute little moggie on the street and slowly chocking the living life out of it because there was only one of them! It’s essentially puzzling to see a business which utilizes quality as its main driver to throw away a golden opportunity on the basis of greed. Each seat sold was another 20 macaroons and they ensured a full stock at all costs. The truth is if they had maintained their usual seating plan they could probably charge 30 to 40 a pop. Given the venue I imagine the Hipp will have no problem pulling off the very same deal next year and the next and the next and I expect that they shall never look deeply enough to notice the low percentage of SB return customer.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great venue for Sunday night football (Regular Season & Playoffs) and it would make an awesome stop off for any group hitting the city centre for a big night out. They are apparently holding a draft party this spring and I would consider returning for that event on the basis that they revert to the usual seating arrangement. Next year I will look to be somewhere that offers the football fan a little more “quality”. A venue where we can enjoy the game in comfort and have all the banter that usually comes with watching it unfold with a crowd of friends who are not all sat in a row squinting at the screen.


#3

Nice one Gordon, really thorough write up. After the assorted flawed but sometimes fun venues on Thanksgiving and Wild Card Saturday, I read this and wonder if we will ever find our dream venue. Frankly I would happily pay £50 for a ticket somewhere awesome but it may never happen…!


#4

Thanks Jon, I totally agree. The SB happens but once a year and it can be a great night. I and I believe quite a few other TFPers would join you in snatching up a seat at 50 if the venue was right!


#5

I never really “got” the Hipp. The theatre room is quite nice, but it doesn’t really feel like the right vibe for watching sports - too much leather and velvet. Whilst watching NFL in the rest of the venue (the general bar area and those odd little rooms) is pretty awful, just way too packed.

Maybe it’s just the casino vibe that’s my issue - the lack of windows and the depressed looking waitresses walking around.

But there’s a pretty limited selection of places available to watch the NFL in London.

Maybe TFP can hire its own venue next year :smile:


#6

Frankly Adam, I don’t ask for much. The place we watched the Thanksgiving games was reasonably basic, but if it had just stayed open, and served drinks, for all three games, I would be all for going back there again. You could be right about booking our own place. I may try to look into that


#7

I’m happy to get involved in booking our own venue, it would take some initial investment and a lot of planning but if done well could be a great gig for the site.


#8

Our own real TFP venue - a True Euro Sports bar created by the fans for the fans (especially NFL)… shame we ain’t all rich boys that could make it happen or have a buddy like ‘Vince in Entourage’ who’s made it big and willing to back us… lol

Big screens, table service - open 24/7 on special sporting occasions, loads of Wi-Fi and plug sockets. Promotions and competitions - maybe on quieter nights sports quizzes - like a pub quiz but on sports… maybe done the more professional way like they do Quizzo in America.

Oh how I would love to be able to come up with games and promotions for a venue like that - my squares behind the bars, sweeps stakes, fantasy house games - I’m a night owl anyhow so grave yard shift okay with me as long as I can sort of watch NFL to.

Dreams… Dreams… Dreams…


#9

Sounds like you need some of this action Noel :smiley:

https://www.greenekingpubs.co.uk/getting-started/how-to-run-a-pub


#10

Considering our members are all over the UK, not just London, maybe a decent place for a TFP Super Bowl night would either be Birmingham, Reading or right next to a national rail station in London (Marylebone, Euston, etc). How are rail links from Reading to the north? :smile: Cheaper venue too.


#11

I read about half to two thirds of that before quitting - far to stressful and to much work for me to handle - alas I hate stress and thus prefer to be an employed grunt under someone else’s wing so to speak… however planning games, quizzes entertainment etc. that floats my boat so it’s kind of bumping in to the person already with the business or the plan to start one and getting involved… As you say maybe there’s a way TFP could all plan to hire a venue and do our own S/B night and if it works for us maybe become like promoters under the TFP banner and put on specific events for things like the NFL Draft, Thanks Giving and the Super Bowl offering all the things we want and currently can’t find. Maybe we could become the standard as Super Bash has been when it comes to putting on a great night around NFL?


#12

The end-goal for The Fan Pub - a real fan pub!

I can quite easily picture Noel as a pub landlord :smile:


#13

Totally agree Adam, the rent of a decent venue in or around London costs a bomb. A venue slighlty further out could be well within reach and could work well with the right transport links. It is possible to go from Reading to the North without touching London.


#14

I looked into this in Twickenham last summer (renting out a venue for the night), it’s all pretty affordable. People do it all the time for weddings and business events anyway. Probably a few other things to factor in when promoting it as an (unofficial) NFL event and showing live sports through the night, but if TFP got to the stage where we could easily fill a place with 50-100 people, piece of cake. Doing that on a Super Bowl night - especially with no more Super Bash - must be pretty achievable.


#15

50-100 is the least I would expect to be honest, we know where and how to market better than anybody outside the sport trying to host their own. I would be looking for between 100-200 but a lot depends on the venue type and quality and as you say location.


#17

(copied and pasted from another thread)

A few thoughts on the Hipp.

PRO:
Table service is a great idea - otherwise there would be a constant stream of folks up and down for food/beer/getting rid of food and beer/ etc.
Very easy access to the venue - for me, coming from Brighton, it was always touch and go whether I caught the 4am train from Victoria when the Superbash was at the O2.
Good buch of guys to watch the game with, although I guess this would have been the case
anywhere - nice chatting with Simon and Shani especially, as we ended up seated next to each other.
Surprisingly cheap beer (and much better stuff than at the O2) - a pint of Blue Moon Belgian wheatbeer (Hoegarden style) for under 4 quid, I’d struggle to find it at that in pubs in Brighton.

ANTI:
Conversely, although I didn’t have any, due to a great pre-match curry, the food looked waaay overpriced, obviously can’t speak for the quality.
Seating - the main issue - far too cramped - a row of 9 seats for us in the space for about 7, with the end guys practically side on to the main screen, although very near a good quality second screen.
Sound and vision - I found it a bit loud, but then again I’m an old git, was probably great for others. Although the secondary screens showed the HD channel, for some reason the big screen was only showing the standard definition picture. Is this (non-techie here) because only SD pictures can be shown on big screens?
Half an hour of stand-up comedy instead of prematch stuff - I still get the feeling that folks who run these events can’t believe there are UK people who actually love the game and all the pre-match build up, and feel the need to spice up the evening with other non-related NFL matters. I guess this is subjective too, but with the exception of the last guy (Jeff Innocent) they were bloody awful comedians anyway.

Summing up, bin the comedians, take about 20 seats out, show the game in HD and it would be fine.

Thanks Gordon for organising it and finding a good curryhouse pregame.
Hope you’re feeling a little better, Anders.


#18

I used to organise parties/fashion shows etc in my younger days, two things to watch out for as it is on a Sunday is the drinking licences and whether the venue can extend that late

Having said that it is surprising good how smaller venues are cost wise and I guess with multiple leagues running in 2016 and a few more friends it may make it more viable to go in that direction

I always thought the elbow rooms in Islington would make a airy informal venue to watch the Super Bowl but I fear it does not exist any more

Anyway I’ll also keep an eye out of a venue


#19

Agreed Shani,

Straight off the bat we need a venue with a late license or is capable of getting one. A venue with security/doormen. A large enough room with decent/appropriate furniture and layout and then comes the screens… and this is just the starting point.


#20

Having reviewed the feedback from various SB hosts it seems none of the big ones are getting it right. I’m interested to spend some football time at Belushis & Brooklyn Bowl as never been to these and they are the two that offered something positive.