Described as a first-of-its kind high-tech attraction, the NFL Experience in New York’s Times Square, which opens Thursday, offers an interactive and immersive experience around the game of football.

Created in partnership with the NFL and the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, fans of football or casual observers (and even non-fans) can revel in the sport — past and present. Included is the documented history of top plays and top players; fun facts, stadiums and team history; authentic club treasures for all 32 teams; digital and physical tracking activities where you can compare yourself to players; a post-game tunnel featuring 42 mirrored screens and never-before-seen-footage; and a room that makes you feel like you are experiencing the Super Bowl on the field.

There is also a 4D state-of-the-art theater, among other attractions, featuring a 10-minute presentation of the NFL, complete with motion seats recreating the movement from the game plays — including the tackles— and 4D special effects that take you onto the field and into the weather elements and aromas from the NFL games.

”I have been working for many years with Cirque du Soleil and they contacted the NFL, who expressed interest in doing this in Times Square. Cirque du Soleil then contacted us and said you guys have been doing this all over the world; Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, for example, and we thought this was a great proposal,” said Francois Bergeron, COO/CFO, The Thinkwell Group. Thinkwell is a global experience design and production agency specializing in the creation and planning of branded property attractions, theme parks, events, museums and exhibits, and live shows around the world.

”The idea of having this personal experience with the brand of the NFL by the creative mega-force that the Cirque du Soleil is was the backbone of this project,” he said. “We realized the experience of the NFL is no longer just about watching on television. We want consumers of all ages, families in particular, to be part of it and feel the connection. And we want to add a new dimension to America’s favorite sport.”

The NFL, of course, has been subject to ongoing criticism this season — from Donald Trump and the national anthem to the declining traditional ratings, which in the case of the later could be due to the glut of the various games presented. Bergeron sees the NFL Experience as being advantageous from a marketing perspective as well.

”I think the idea of coming in and seeing the backstage of what it is to be a football player adds a whole new dimension to the sport,” he said. “I think it adds a new layer to a timeless sports franchise, which like anything else today could certainly benefit from a fresh perspective. And in this world of social media, where everyone has an immediate voice, we wanted to give them something else to talk about.”

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[Images courtesy of Marc Berman]


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