Following the first Super Bowl of the COVID-19 era and with vaccine distribution on the rise, preparations are underway to make next year’s game — Super Bowl LVI — in Los Angeles a triumphant return to normal.
Sunday’s championship game in Tampa and the week leading up to it were unlike any before, with no wacky opening media night, no highly-anticipated concert on the eve of the big game, and just 25,000 mask-wearing fans in the stands.
Yet those involved in planning for next year’s game are optimistic that by kickoff on Feb. 6, the good times will be back and social distancing will be a thing of the past.
“Today more than ever the Super Bowl stands for hope and perseverance,” Casey Wasserman, chairman of Los Angeles Super Bowl Host Committee, said on Tuesday.
“We are proud and excited that Los Angeles will once again host the nation’s biggest sporting event, however, it’s the promise of recovery and opportunity that Super Bowl LVI brings to our city’s people and industries that reigns supreme.”
Jack Murphy, CEO of Iconography Entertainment, which has produced pre-Super Bowl, Saturday-night concerts featuring A-list stars such as Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, and Taylor Swift, did not travel to this year’s game for the first time in more than a decade.
Yet he said the break offered the opportunity for “rejuvenation,” adding that sponsors and artists are already in talks about how to deliver an unforgettable experience for fans who are desperate for a return to the fun-filled, pre-pandemic times.
“We’ve had a lot of excitement being generated around what we want to do in LA,” he told Reuters.
In the past AT&T, DirecTV, Pepsi, and EA Sports have sponsored the concerts, and companies looking for exposure in LA are eager to get involved early on.
“We don’t know if the Super Bowl in Los Angeles will be an official coming-out party for the world, but the timing seems pretty sweet,” said Rob Ichelson, chief marketing officer at Iconography.
“And from what we’ve heard from sponsors and a lot of people is that they agree with that. It is a little bit of a wait-and-see, but we’re very, very optimistic so far.”
Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, has said he foresees America achieving enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021, despite early setbacks in the vaccine rollout.
On Monday he said the best defense against emerging variants of the coronavirus and the pandemic is getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
More than 41 million vaccine doses have been administered to more than 31 million Americans, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data posted Sunday.
“We’re ready to go in LA,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot of good stuff to come.”