Airports: Prepping for the Super Bowl & Other Big Events
It’s a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. Last year 111 million people watched. Economic impact of $350 million. Living Social deal at $5,550. Jetsetter deal at $12,500. Airline prices tripling, hotel prices doubling.
This weekend will be Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The stadium is projected to hold 75,000 people. An estimated additional 50,000 non-ticket holders are expected to show up as part of the festivities. The city has implemented a dizzying array of traffic changes. Of the attendees, 85% are from another state with 70-90% arriving by plane, equating to at least 1,200 planes expected to land in central Indiana.
Given our love of all things airports, we thought it would be fun to learn about how airports prepare for big events.
All those VIPs
The influx of fans is one thing, but the special accommodations for the athletes require real finesse.
- At London Heathrow International Airport, in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, a dedicated Games Terminal will be set up for the athletes, offering bag collection straight from the Olympic village to the airport.
- Jacksonville International Airport, for Superbowl XXXIX opened Air Cargo 4 as a makeshift satellite passenger terminal to handle the 210 buses, 2,400 limos, 3,400 taxis, and 7,200 rental cars.
- Houston Airport System, in preparation for hosting the Final Four, worked closely with the hosting convention center and visitors bureau to best coordinate the arrivals of the teams via chartered planes. Special procedures and months of planning are required for such a tremendous undertaking.
- Indiana will set up temporary terminal towers at three regional airports to help direct the heavy air traffic.
Signs. Banners. Videos. Give-a-ways. Hosting airports are the first impression visitors get and it’s important to make it a good one.
- Houston Airport System hung banners, elevator decals, floor decals, roadway banners, and column wraps. The airport was appropriately staffed with “point guard volunteers” to answer fan’s questions. Trinkets such as mini basketballs and luggage tags that said “see you in 2013” were given out.
- In Indianapolis International Airport, Super Bowl changes can be seen everywhere. Between banners hung up high, to special kiosks on the ground offering information, fans will be greeted and welcomed by a significant amount of Super Bowl and NFL décor. In Super Bowl Village, look for the blue and white scarves worn by the 8,000 volunteers. Possibly being a once in a lifetime event, these eager volunteers are giving a taste of Hoosier Hospitality that they hope will linger long after the guests have left.
- “When I arrived at my terminal shortly thereafter, I thought I was in a country club. This was not your average, boring airport terminal– the people in Jacksonville transformed the waiting area into a fun place you almost don’t want to leave” said Gil Brandt, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys and now NFL.com senior analyst (had attended 36 of 39 Super Bowls at time of quotation).
Game Day Tech
Lastly, we’d like to share a few cool pieces of technology that have gone into the Super Bowl experience.
- Enhanced wireless coverage. Corning MobileAccess’s distributed antenna systems is delivering extra wireless coverage at major Indianapolis venues. With large structures and massive amounts of people competing for bandwidth, cellular networks often drop calls and provide slower data access. Lucas Oil is the fifth Super Bowl stadium to utilize this technology to bring outdoor cellular signals indoors and distribute them throughout the facilities to improve coverage for voice, texting, and data services.
- For the first time, the Super Bowl will be available on a computer and a phone. Collaboration between the National Football League, Comcast Corporation’s NBC, and Verizon Wireless, will mean that on a TV is no longer the only place to watch the Super Bowl.
Giants arriving in IND