A Super Bowl Rocket Ship

Houston Super Bowl to include a rocket ship ride, a Space Needle and big-name concerts

Houston Super Bowl to include a rocket ship ride, Space Needle, music

Discovery Green, George R. Brown Convention Center, Hilton, skyline, December 2012
Concerts, a Space Needle and a rocket ship ride? What won't Discovery Green have during Super Bowl LI. Photo courtesy of George R. Brown Convention Center
Space Needle
Houston will have its own mini Space Needle type structure in Discovery Green. Courtesy of Visit Seattle
NASA and space are going to be a big part of Houston's Super Bowl.
Discovery Green, George R. Brown Convention Center, Hilton, skyline, December 2012
Space Needle

San Francisco may have submitted its Super Bowl bid on iPad Minis, but Houston is determined to put on the Super Bowl that will truly bring the NFL into the future.

Those grand plans include a "rocket ship ride" in Discovery Green that aims to blow away the zip line ride over downtown Indianapolis that impressed so many during the last Super Bowl. "We're going to have something like a rocket ship," Houston Super Bowl bid chairman Ric Campo promised as the full scope of the Bayou City's winning Super Bowl vision emerged Wednesday.

". . . It's not fully baked," Campo said after a pause, allowing that many more details will have to be worked out before the pretend rocket blasts off.

 "We're going to have something like a rocket ship." 

Still, the rocket ride speaks to the grand scale of these Super plans for 2017. The renderings on display at One Park Place included a tall, high-tech looking, free-standing structure in Discovery Green that Campo later described to CultureMap as something of a "Space Needle." By the time it's fully unveiled, it's likely to have a more Bayou City fitting name, but there is little doubt that the Super Bowl organizers hope to have NASA involved.

What clearly already blew the NFL owners and officials away is the Houston vision of turning the Super Bowl from a one-week party into a 10-day event. As Campo describes it, the Super Bowl action, which has typically started heating up on the Tuesday of game week, will instead begin the Thursday before the NFL's typical off weekend — a full 10 days prior to the big game's kickoff.

"No other city had that as part of their proposal," Campo said.

Campo admits that will require more money and more big-time events to fill up what's essentially an extra four days. After many other reporters had left One Park Place following the close of the official press conference, Campo told CultureMap that the early plans call for major concerts (much like the 2011 Final Four, only even bigger acts) and themed days that highlight Houston's diversity.

"We'll probably take a page from the Rodeo there," Campo said of the themed days and making sure all 10 days have major draws. ". . . We're creating a festival experience for people without tickets."

The organizing committee estimates that more than a million people will visit Discovery Green during the 10-day "festival."

Campo spoke to CultureMap on an eighth floor balcony at One Park Place and he occasionally looked back out over the park below. Reliant Stadium gets the game, but this scene will in many ways be the image of Super Bowl LI. 

This Houston Super Bowl is already being branded as Super Bowl El Centro in a nod to Houston's Hispanic fabric and the city's close ties to Mexico.

"The NFL's looking to Houston as the future," Campo said.