Houston: The ‘Super Bowl City’ – history was made in the ‘Super Bowl City’ this past week

In 1967, the city of Houston received the official nickname of ‘Space City’ because it has served as the home to NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center.

Since that time, Houston has gotten a lot of popular nicknames, such as ‘Clutch City’, which was given to the city after the Houston Rockets won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, in response to a front-page headline in the Houston Chronicle declaring Houston to be ‘Choke City’. Houston has been referred to as the ‘Bayou City’, ‘H-Town’ and ‘The Energy Capital of the World’. However, after the second and most recent display that Houston put on, serving as the host of Super Bowl LI, it may now be time to call Houston the ‘Super Bowl City’.

The city of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston First Corporation and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee did an outstanding job serving as the host of Super Bowl LI, and is going down as a history-making Super Bowl event. Not only was Super Bowl LI, the first-ever Super Bowl to go into overtime in NFL history, several other history-defining and memorable events occurred.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots won their fifth championship trophy at Super Bowl XLI this past Sunday night at Houston’s NRG Stadium, overcoming a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime, marking this as the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history – and that history was made in Houston, Texas.

Other history was made in the ‘Super Bowl City’ this past week.

The NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, which returned to Houston for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2004, was once again one of the most exciting continuous events surrounding Super Bowl LI. The event gave fans of all ages the opportunity to get in the game with numerous interactive activities and games, impressive displays of NFL history and daily opportunities to get up close with some of football’s greatest players of the past and present.

After final attendance figures were announced for the seven-day NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, which opened Saturday, Jan. 28, and closed on Sunday before the start of Super Bowl LI, it showed that the 24th installment of the event drew more than 175,000 fans to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. On Saturday, February 4, the day was sold out, marking the first single-day sellout of the NFL Experience in more than two decades.

NFL Commissioner NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could do nothing but sing the praises of Houston, as he believed all of the events were just very well received both locally and globally.

“We had a spectacular week here in Houston. I can’t think of a better way to finish out the week,” said Commissioner Goodell. “These types of events, when you have this many people coming together, it’s difficult to do and it’s difficult to do it with the kind of talent and expertise you saw, and that’s attributed to the people here in Houston. It was just an extraordinary effort, and they (Houston) set a new bar for this event.”

Unlike the 2004 Super Bowl, Houston was definitely more prepared, as there were no major incidents involving transportation logjams, weather challenges or crime. Parking is typically an issue whenever you have large events coming to a major city, but that seemed to not be a problem with the METRO Rail being in place this year, versus 2004.

New Orleans has traditionally been looked at as the standard bearer, because it has always been seen as a city that knows how to throw a huge party and is accustomed to hosting big events.

Now that the city of Houston has revamped downtown, with the addition of several major hotel chains such as the Marriott Marquis; the renovations to the George R. Brown Convention Center; the brand-new Avenida Houston entertainment district; the improvements to Discovery Green; the addition of various quality restaurants and a vibrant nightlife; improved transportation with the METRO Rail, bike program and Zipcar program, Houston has become a major competitor when it comes to attracting, not only another future Super Bowl, but other major conventions and events as well.

“The heaping slice of Americana that is the Super Bowl wasn’t a one-and-done event,” said Houston First Corporation Chairman David Mincberg. “Left in its wake is permanent infrastructure Houston has built for the long haul and ongoing return on investment.  Other improvements completed before our guests arrived are permanent and won’t be rolled up and placed in storage.  We all benefit from the upgrades to our airports, roadways and sidewalks, new lighting and wayfinding signs, and installation of spectacular new public artworks.”

The day after the history-making Super Bowl, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner handed off the Super Bowl to Minneapolis, Minnesota, who is serving as the host of Super Bowl LII, and told Commissioner Goodell and the world that Houston is primed and ready to host a Super Bowl in Houston again in the very near future.

“I hope that before I leave as mayor, let me just put my own plug in, I’ll have the opportunity to be the mayor and host you again,” said Turner.

In response to Minneapolis hosting Super Bowl LII, Commissioner Goodell said, “This is an incredible group representing Minnesota. They’re a well-organized, well-oiled machine, and I know they’re going to do a fantastic job for us and even raise the bar higher.”

That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Minneapolis, and future cities not named Houston, you are on the clock. The nation and the world will be watching to see if anyone can ever supplant Houston and take away their new nickname as the official ‘Super Bowl City’.