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10 Things You Need to Know about SF's Super Bowl City

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Super Bowl City is being constructed at the foot of Market Street; photos of construction by <a href="">Patricia Chang</a>
Super Bowl City is being constructed at the foot of Market Street; photos of construction by Patricia Chang

By now, we all know that while Super Bowl 50 will be played in Santa Clara on February 7, the party will be in San Francisco the week before. But what will the celebration entail? We went to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee to find out. Today we bring you behind-the-scenes details and insider intel that will help you navigate the sports-themed city within a city that's rapidly going up along the Embarcadero. It officially opens to the public on Saturday, January 30 and closes on Sunday, February 7; you'll want to read this before you visit.

A city rises: Super Bowl City goes up on Market Street; photos of construction by Patricia Chang
1. What exactly is Super Bowl City?
Super Bowl City is being staged by SF's Super Bowl Host Committee, and officials describe it as a "free to the public fan village." It's supposed to showcase all that's great about the Bay Area, including art, culture, food, and drink. It's one of two main hubs of Super Bowl 50 activity in SF (the other being the NFL Experience in the Moscone Center, more on that in a bit) and it's the one that has the broadest array of activities.

Map courtesy Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, click to enlarge
2. Where is it?
The short answer is that it will be by the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. The map above shows the exact perimeters (and where to find everything). The action starts on Market Street at Davis, and stretches down to the Ferry Building. From there, activities spread out along the Embarcadero between Washington Street and Don Chee Way. If you've been having a tough commute this week, here's why.

Two locations to note: Sue Bierman Park (the green space bordered by Justin Herman Plaza, Drumm Street, Washington Street, and the Embarcadero) is where the free concerts happen. You can see the full schedule here; but bands of note that will be staging free concerts in this location include Chris Isaak, The Band Perry, and Alisha Keys. The other hub is Justin Herman Plaza; you'll find the Fan Energy Zone there.

Map courtesy SFMTA, click to enlarge
3. What does this mean for traffic?
It hasn't been great, to say the least. The worst day appears to have been Monday, when commuters were adjusting to street closures around the perimeters of Super Bowl City. How things will shape up as fans start pouring into town remains to be seen. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has published this guide to getting around while streets are closed, as well as the map above. Our advice? Unless you are visiting the event, avoid the area. If you are going, take public transportation.

The Fan Energy Zone will be an immersive and interactive experience; photos of construction by Patricia Chang
4. What is the Fan Energy Zone?
The Fan Energy Zone takes place in a massive, 40-foot dome and provides visitors with what is described as an "immersive" experience. There's three parts to it: the Fan Dome, the Fan Stage, and the Fan Wall.

The Fan Dome will be full of interactive games you can play on a giant screen via avatar. Motion capture technology will allow you to virtually run down a football field in a game called Break Away or shake your digital booty in Amps Up. Your moves will be displayed periodically on the giant Fan Wall, a 50-foot wide by 15-foot tall video wall that will be broadcasting these video game moments, as well as videos and photos that are tweeted from Super Bowl City (#superbowl50 and #SB50).

The Fan Stage is where live events happen, such as celebrity appearances and DJ sessions.

This giant 50 is coming to a Facebook feed near you; photos of construction by Patricia Chang
5. The Goal: The Most Shared Super Bowl in History
About those hashtags: Organizers tell us the goal is to make this the most shared Super Bowl event in history. In other words, there's free wifi in event (look for #superbowlcity) and you'll be able to share every moment with your social media friends. One photo hosts anticipate as being particularly Insta worthy is the 18-foot-tall 50 that's right across from the Ferry Building. We know what you are thinking: That's too tall for a selfie. Don't worry, the organizers will have volunteers out there who will be happy to take your picture in front of the big 5-0.

6. There's an app for this.
The app is called Road to 50, and with it you get event details, traffic information, Bay Area maps, and access to the Fan Mobile Pass that lets you check into activities at Super Bowl City and the NFL Experience.

7. What's the difference between Super Bowl City and the NFL Fan Experience?
Both events are hosted by the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Super Bowl City is larger and a local focus, it's located along the Embarcadero, and it's free. The NFL Fan Experience is staged by the National Football League, it's in the Moscone Center, it's extremely football-centric, and tickets cost $35. If your goal is to run into NFL players and score autographs, this is where you will find them. You'll also find history displays about the sport and the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

8. What's to eat?
Officials tell us they've gone to great lengths to make sure the food at Super Bowl City is local and good. Food from the likes of Woodhouse Fish Co. and Southern Kitchen will be available. We are told that the quality level will be of gourmet food truck fare, or as a spokesperson for the event said: "It's the Bay Area's take on football food."

9. Don't miss the light show.
The latest addition to the entertainment roster was just announced this week and hasn't been widely publicized: Visa plans to use their corporate headquarters at One Market Plaza (right in the heart of Super Bowl City) as a giant canvas for a Super Bowl 50 Digital Light Show. Once Super Bowl City opens on the 30th, expect nightly displays that will show Bay Area landmarks, football imagery, and (of course) corporate messaging in vivid lights (unless the city pulls the plug). Bay Bridge, you have some competition.

10. It's on track to be the most giving Super Bowl in history.
A lot has been written about how much the Super Bowl will cost, less about how much it's giving to the community through donations. A spokesperson tells us that $7.5 million has been allocated to local charities via the 50 Fund, the legacy fund of the Host Committee. When it's all said and done, it's estimated that $13 million will be given away, thanks in large part to corporate sponsorships.

All will be revealed on Saturday, but until then, take a look at the city as it takes shape.

· Super Bowl City [Official Site]
· Super Bowl 50 More Details Help You Get Around [SFMTA]
· Road to 50 [Official Site]
· NFL Experience [Official Site]
· Did City Leaders Fumble the Super Bowl Deal with the NFL? [Curbed SF]
· Huge Super Bowl Signs Put Up by Visa and Verizon Are Illegal [Curbed SF]