Boulevard of Football Dreams

Times Square transforms into Super Bowl paradise in honor of the game

The first Super Bowl to be held in the New York area since 1962, this year’s – on Feb. 2 – will take place at the MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants. In preparation for the big day, beginning Jan. 29, Times Square will transform into a football wonderland for the four days leading up to the big game, turning Broadway between 34th and 44th streets into Super Bowl Boulevard. Leave your seat cushions at home for this free, interactive event; all you’ll need is your camera and something on which you won’t mind a famous player scribbling his name.

The City has been planning the Boulevard since last January, when it announced it would be the host of the 2014 Super Bowl. Nothing in Times Square is ever understated, and neither is this event, engineered by GMC. Start at the beginning, which welcomes visitors at the entrance on 34th Street with a giant video extravaganza. Projected onto the façade of Macy’s in Herald Square, a 10-minute video show of NFL Films footage highlights will run continuously throughout the Boulevard’s noon-to-11 p.m. hours.

As you continue up the Boulevard, allot time for the autograph stage at 39th Street, where current and former NFL players will sit pen-in-hand from noon to 6 p.m. In case you find yourself lacking something signable, any one of the many merchandise stands stationed throughout the Boulevard will have you covered, selling posters, t-shirts and memorabilia galore. After the athletes go home, meander back to the stage for live music, which will play each night from 8 until 10 p.m.

Continue up the Boulevard to 41st Street and up the 180-foot-tall (which calculates out to some seven stories) Toboggan Run, a winter slide inviting parents and children alike to swoosh down its hills and bumps – Manhattan’s version of a thrill ride. And just past that, strike a pose in front of the giant Roman Numerals – XLVIII – commemorating this year’s game.

Even if you aren’t the snap-happy type, the cream of the Boulevard crop demands at least one picture, even if it’s mental: the Vince Lombardi Trophy. All seven pounds and 22 inches of it will be on display, made of pure sterling silver handcrafted by Tiffany & Co. Since a trophy is made anew each year, the winner of each Super Bowl has permanent possession of the one they win, and now, you can, too, even if it’s just on your iPhone.

And keep that iPhone (or smartphone/tablet/computer) out. While the Boulevard is certainly the pre-Bowl centerpiece, it is by no means the only big event going on that week. Beginning Jan. 27, for the six nights leading up to the game, VH1 and the NFL are partnering for Super Bowl Blitz: Six Nights + Six Shows, presenting a different concert each night, with a limited number of tickets given away via Twitter. The only information that has been disclosed as of yet is that six nights’ venues will be in each of the five boroughs and New Jersey. Artists are still under wraps, but expect them to be chart-topping; after all, it’s VH1. We suggest you start following #VH1BLITZ now.

But if the outdoors prove too frigid and the tickets elude your grasp, head to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City for a 5,000 square-foot multimedia football exhibit, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Never-seen-before football items will be on display beside busts from the original Pro Hall of Fame in Ohio, as well as recent footage from NFL Films, a Vince Lombardi Trophy and a special section devoted to the New York Giants and Jets. Wear your sneakers for the “Training Camp,” where visitors can put all elements of their football skill set – kicking, throwing, jumping – to the test. Even if your techniques don’t prove on par with the Mannings’, at least you can say you topped off this weeklong pep rally with a little practice before the big game.