While the Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events of the year, it also provides a challenge for bar and nightclub owners who want to invite patrons to watch the game. They not only need to differentiate themselves from other bars planning events but house parties as well.
Creating a promotion that stands out and finding recognition amongst consumers is what is driving Rob Burns, GM of Dylan Prime. Hoping to create an elevated sports bar experience, Burns and his team are using their two private event spaces in hopes of bringing in two big groups of football fans. Indeed, the private rooms hold about 30 people who, for $150 per person, will be treated to a four-quarter pig roast and unlimited beer to watch the game.
(Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
As a standalone restaurant, Burns feels the competition from well-known sports bars in the area. And in New York, the pressure is doubled. Not only will New Yorkers want to get out of cramped apartment spaces to celebrate the big game, but because the city and nearby New Jersey are hosting the Super Bowl, Burns is expecting added excitement. To capitalize on game day viewers, he is seeking out a niche group that “don’t want to sit at home, don’t want to go to a sports bar but are looking for something different,” he says.
Competing against other bars, however, hasn’t deterred Burns. Although Dylan Prime’s private Super Bowl party may lack certain elements of a Super Bowl party, it still offers “beer and loud noise in the privacy of one room."
For Alicia Day and her team at the W San Diego, the challenge is two-fold, not only seducing people away from house parties but fighting for guests in a football town. Every Sunday “every single bar and restaurant is showing football games,” she says. The challenge is being different from the competitors, which Day hopes to do by introducing appealing offerings and value with discounted happy-hour priced food and drinks, as well as “pushing what we do have with the outdoor seating,” she says.
Ask the W San Diego’s director of restaurant and bars about what draws people to the W for the Super Bowl and she’ll tell you it’s the atmosphere. The game will be played on TVs in the bar but also on the rooftop, where patrons will get to experience game day in the San Diego sun — a stark difference from the cold the players will experience in New Jersey and what viewers will get at home.
“We try to capitalize on what we have that you don’t have at home,” she explains, adding that watching the game outdoors, sipping on discount price cocktails and noshing on football-inspired snacks, are part of the plan to drive Super Bowl business to the W. For example, the hotel is offering two NFL-inspired drinks for Super Bowl Sunday only: the AFC punch and the NFC Crush. An added incentive for patrons is if they buy a drink, they will get a raffle ticket where two $100 gift cards to Uber, the car-for-hire service and co-sponsor of the event, will be awarded.
Yet, there are some sports bars that are just lucky. The Denver-based Tavern Hospitality Group is the official sponsor of the Denver Broncos, who will be playing in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. At the seven venues, there will be Broncos decorations, free square pools with gift cards awarded at the end of each quarter, raffle prizes given at each location, including Broncos memorabilia and grand prizes of 42-inch high-definition TVs.
While Tavern Hospitality Group may reach bottom-line goals this year with their Super Bowl parties, generally, hosting Super Bowl events and others like it aren't that profitable. However, Day says it’s important to celebrate big pop culture events, including the Grammys, the Oscars or the Olympic opening ceremonies because it’s something “cool or different” to capitalize on and create an event around it. “It’s more of a marketing opportunity to draw people in,” she says.
Burns agrees. Because Dylan Prime is reopening after a hiatus and renovation, the team wants to attract a new audience, which is more important than the bottom line. “You always want to utilize big events like this optimize your revenue and do something to standout, which is very difficult in New York because everyone does something cool and innovative,” he says. “Sometimes you don’t take in as much of a profit as you’d like to meet other goals.”