Houston may be the official host city of Super Bowl LI, but The Woodlands is making its own plans to benefit from the more than 1 million attendees who will converge on the Greater Houston area next year.
About 1.1 million people attended this year’s events in San Francisco, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he expects the same, if not more, to attend the event in Houston in 2017.
The Super Bowl Host Committee is in active discussions with nearby cities to determine what types of events they can host and what the economic benefits will be, said Hasting Stewart, the committee’s executive vice president of public affairs. The host committee wants to engage neighboring communities to help showcase the city’s overlooked qualities.
“One thing we’re excited about is showcasing there’s a lot that’s changed in Houston since it hosted the game in 2004,” Stewart said. “We’re a growing, innovative, culturally diverse and exciting city. We’re more than just an energy town.”
The Woodlands is still determining how to showcase its best attributes as the event draws closer.
Nick Wolda, president of The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau, cited the city’s more than 2,200 upscale and boutique hotel rooms, over 200 miles of hike and bike paths, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 11 million square feet of shopping and dining, and golf opportunities as potential attractions for activities and events.
“The Woodlands served as a venue for many events and activities for the last Super Bowl in Houston and would like to do the same in 2017,” Wolda said.
Turner and other city officials met with their counterparts in San Francisco during this year’s Super Bowl to observe and ask questions in preparation for next year. An economic survey will occur over the next several months to determine the impact for Houston, Stewart said.
Stewart highlighted the opening of downtown’s Discovery Green in 2008, the expected completion of the redesigned George R. Brown Convention Center and the planned October completion of the Marriott Marquis in downtown as features that will help enhance the overall experience for game attendees.
Fans will be able to attend a free 10-day festival called Super Bowl Central that will serve as a display for Houston culture, food and businesses, Stewart said.
One of the easiest ways for the city to introduce visitors to the best of Houston will be through the host committee’s volunteer force, Stewart said. Upward of 10,000 volunteers are needed to help guide guests through the airports, hotels and major transit stations.
“We are looking for the best and brightest across Houston to showcase the best of the city and make sure folks visiting have a wonderful experience,” Stewart said.