NEW YORK -- The Super Bowl practically comes with a guarantee of A-list star wattage: No matter where it’s held, celebrities flock to the big game and the blowout extravaganzas connected to it.
But its location this year at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. -- just outside of New York City -- has raised the bar for over-the-top parties and events that one would only expect from the self-professed capital of the world.
"New York is hot and has always been hot, so the pressure is on. Energy will be pumping, wherever you may be," said Shape magazine Editor-in-Chief Tara Kraft, who is helping plan a $2,500-a-ticket event at New York’s swanky Cipriani’s, co-sponsored by Men’s Fitness. It will feature Mary J. Blige, Marc Anthony and John Legend.
So far, it seems like the city has delivered on that promise. Jay Z will perform at DirecTV’s Super Bowl Eve party; Drake is due to perform at another; the Foo Fighters are performing across from Bud Light’s floating party on a cruise ship; the Kings of Leon and the Black Keys are set to rock out at two different events; GQ is planning an exclusive, invite-only party that’s still under wraps but likely to attract plenty of boldface names; and Super Bowl staple parties sponsored by the likes of Playboy and Maxim are expected to be even more wild given this year’s location.
"I think the expectations are a lot higher for New York," said Jon Gieselman of DirecTV, which invented the Celebrity Beach Bowl.
Gieselman and his team began planning two years ago, rather than the usual one, due to tight competition for suitably large venues and navigation of complicated permitting procedures. Though there’s a chance for blistering cold weather or even snow on Feb. 2, DirecTV is more than prepared for inclement weather: Its eighth annual beach bowl will be inside an 88,000-square-foot structure that he boasted can withstand hurricane-force wind. It will be filled with more than 1 million pounds of sand and is set to feature stars including Shay Mitchell of "Pretty Little Liars," model Chrissy Teigen and food TV star Guy Fieri, as well as retired football greats like Joe Montana. Rockers Paramore will perform.
Like the Beach Bowl, some of the biggest events will have some access for the non-boldfaced. Time Warner Cable will stage four nights of VIP parties and concerts from a pop-up; a small number of customers can win free tickets via Twitter to see P. Diddy and Drake on Super Bowl Eve and Kings of Leon that Thursday night. Janelle Monae, Fall Out Boy, TLC, J.Cole, the Goo Goo Dolls and Gavin DeGraw are among those booked by VH1 for a concert slate dubbed the "Super Bowl Blitz," six nights of entertainment in all boroughs, plus New Jersey.
The Foo Fighters and Zac Brown Band will perform as part of Bud Light Hotel festivities near the cruise ship docked on the Hudson, along with Imagine Dragons, Run DMC and Fall Out Boy. That Friday, Nelly was booked there, on the pier next to the Intrepid for an after-party hosted by Playboy. In Brooklyn, more than 3,000 people are expected to stroll, eat and socialize their way through Taste of the NFL, a chef-heavy party that will raise money for hunger relief. Invited guests include chefs Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio and Mario Batali, along with NFL greats Kellen Winslow Sr. and Anthony Munoz.
"I think it’s really special the Super Bowl is going to be there," Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz said. "New York is already sort of pre-ready for this kind of event."
Some of the hottest parties will be unattainable to most. GQ is throwing a bash for 300 guests at the Boom Boom Room atop The Standard hotel in the meatpacking district. Superhot Grammy nominee Kendrick Lamar was tapped for two events, hosting Maxim’s bash and performing at ESPN the Party, where he’ll also be joined by Robin Thicke and Jermaine Dupri. And Howard Stern is having his birthday bash beforehand at an all-star event hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
Gieselman said some previous Super Bowls didn’t attract the same level of celebrity to ancillary events that New York is due to bring.
"One reality of some of those other markets is you just don’t have quite as many people coming in. There were no direct flights from Los Angeles to Indianapolis, for instance. That really depressed, in my mind, the number of sort of A-level celebrities," he said.
Model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker, co-host of the two-day Leather & Laces pre-Super Bowl bash at Liberty Theater in Times Square, said the Indianapolis Super Bowl two years ago was one of her favorites.
"You got a hand-knit scarf when you landed and there definitely was a homey touch," she said.
Decker expects more action in the Big Apple.
"I feel like New York will be completely bustling, completely nonstop," said Decker, before adding with a laugh: "I’m terrified about the cold weather, but I saw some lovely hand-warmers they’re going to be giving out, so hopefully that will help."