The Super Bowl’s ‘Other’ Big Games

Gronk Smash: No one knows a good time like NFL favorite Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, who is bringing his Gronk Beach event to Phoenix during festivities leading up to the Super Bowl. Photo Courtesy Medium Rare

Everything about the NFL championship game is super-sized, including the ancillary entertainment and music events taking over Phoenix in the days leading up to the main event.

“It’s the Super Bowl, the largest sporting event in the country,” said Ralph Marchetta, SVP and GM of the Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns and this year’s Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest. “There are a lot of events going on downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center, Margaret T. Hance Park, all of the other parties and things happening. For us, it’s a great opportunity to really show off the market and demonstrate how it has developed and what a great city we have.”

For three years, Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest has been tapped for numerous “best of” lists, featuring three nights of major music talent usually at a typical concert venue other than the Super Bowl host stadium.

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Wrecking Bowl: Miley Cyrus performs during last year’s Bud Light Super Bowl Music Festival, which took place at Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 12.
(Kevin Mazur / Getty Images / Bud Light )

The three-night concert series, which is sandwiched between the WM Phoenix Open Feb. 6-12 and Super Bowl LVII, features headliners of multiple genres. The 2023 lineup includes Paramore (see cover story on page 22) with special guest Bleachers on Feb. 9; Dave Matthews Band with special guest DJ Pee .Wee (aka Anderson .Paak All Vinyl Set) on Feb. 10; and Imagine Dragons and Kane Brown on Feb. 11.

Each show will have a unique look and stage configuration, from a pit for Dave Matthews, to three thrusts for Imagine Dragons and Kane Brown. Load-in starts Feb. 7.

The event, which is produced by Endeavor’s On Location, the NFL’s official hospitality partner, and Synergy Productions, draws big-name fans, too. In the past, former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning surprised the audience with a special unveiling of the “Madden NFL 20” Super Bowl LIV prediction and Demi Lovato joined Dan + Shay on stage for a surprise performance of their ballad “Speechless.” More surprises are in store for 2023, according to organizers.

“Lineup strategy every year is based on wanting to do unique shows, interesting pairings and one-of-a-kind moments,” said Amit Dhawan, founder of Synergy.

Previous performances at Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest include Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly; Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton; Miley Cyrus and Green Day; Bruno Mars and Cardi B; Post Malone and Aerosmith; and Guns & Roses and Snoop Dogg.

“We continue to evolve it, make it bigger,” said Don Renzulli, executive vice president of events for On Location. “It’s got the Super Bowl name on it, which we have the right to do, and put something out there that is a little bit different than what everyone else is doing.”
In addition to Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest, there are numerous entertainment and live music events throughout the Phoenix area. This year, a few high-profile events are being produced by Medium Rare, known for experiential events featuring major sports and entertainment stars.

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State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, is host to this year’s Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Shaquille O’Neal brings Shaq’s Fun House to Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on Feb. 10.
The fifth annual event features Snoop Dogg and Diplo in an adult playground with six hours of open bar, notable sports and entertainment personalities, musical performances and a carnival midway.

In the past, the event has hosted more than 25,000 fans and celebrity guests that included NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, actor/comedian Jamie Foxx, NFL star Rob Gronkowski, rap group Migos and more.

Gronkowski has a themed event of his own: Gronk Beach on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Talking Stick Resort. The four-time Super Bowl champion and former University of Arizona star knows a thing or two about how to throw a party, with the return of his personally curated music festival with headliners 21 Savage, Lil Jon, Diplo and a celebrity beach volleyball competition.

SI The Party presented by Captain Morgan takes over Talking Stick Resort Feb. 11.
Sports Illustrated’s popular event, produced by partner Authentic, raises the bar with The Chainsmokers and Machine Gun Kelly as headliners.

Guy’s Flavortown Tailgate presented by Cash App is being dubbed by organizers as the largest culinary event ever. Celebrity chef and mayor of flavortown Guy Fieri will host a free, pregame, family-friendly event on game day for 10,000 fans at State Farm Stadium.
Fieri personally assembled more than 15 restaurants, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” specials, dozens of bars and musical performances including Diplo to create tailgate history.

“To me, food is always what connects community,” Fieri told Pollstar via email. “Food creates conversation, it encourages celebration, it brings people together. Football is the same, whether that’s to cheer or for friendly rivalry. Plus, who doesn’t want to precede the perfect game day with some good old fashioned tailgating food and fun?”

Tossing a challenge flag at traditional tailgates, the family-friendly interactive food and music festival adjacent to State Farm Stadium hosts 10,000 local and visiting fans and features performances by Diplo and LOCASH leading into kickoff from 11:30 AM-4:30 PM on Feb. 12.

“Super Bowl Sunday is not only the biggest day of the year for sports, it’s also a holiday for eating! I have been going to the Big Game for years and thinking about the kinds of Super Bowl events that exist, there seemed to be none focused on culinary and none focused on the local crowd,” Fieri said. “The events that exist very much cater to the bigwigs coming to town or folks willing to spend thousands, most of which don’t necessarily celebrate the spirit of the game.”

Fieri’s culinary championship includes 10+ Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives restaurant pop-ups, exclusive Guy Fieri curated concepts, A Taste of Phoenix highlighting local restaurants, The Sprouts Butcher Shop, Guy’s Trashcan Nachos presented by Cash App, and more.

“Family, food and football. The three loves of my life – and my wife, of course,” Fieri sad. “For Guy’s Flavortown Tailgate, I get to combine them all here, along with local flavor, from the restaurants we have on board to the locals who come out to party.”