This week, the epicenter of the sports world shifts to Houston, site of Super Bowl LI. The city expects to welcome approximately 140,000 visitors to the parties, concerts and celebrations leading up to the big game on Feb. 5, which pits the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in a battle for the NFL championship at NRG Stadium.
As a Super Bowl host, Houston is no rookie, but a lot has changed since the must-see sporting event last drew crowds to the nation’s fourth-most populous city. (That was in 2004, when quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to victory over the Carolina Panthers to secure his second championship.)
In recent years, an influx of green space, high-rises, meeting facilities, and cultural and entertainment venues have transformed the once struggling city into a vibrant modern metropolis. We’ve been following the changes closely. Let us bring you up to speed on Houston’s latest developments, and then use our insider knowledge to impress friends at your Super Bowl party next Sunday.
NRG Stadium, site of the game itself, is more than a football stadium. Home to the NFL’s Houston Texans as well as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the indoor/outdoor venue with a retractable roof contains 125,000 square feet that can be configured for general sessions, exhibits and functions.
The new dining, entertainment and arts district Avenida Houston is poised to become the center of Super Bowl Revelry. The complex includes the 12-acre Discovery Green, site of Super Bowl Live, a free nine-day fan festival kicking off Jan. 28. The event features live music and performances, interactive exhibits, food and a 90-foot tall virtual reality trip to Mars.
Two huge hotels anchor Avenida Houston: the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston and the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston, which opened in December. The latter delivers what could become Houston’s signature Instagram scene: a lazy river in the shape of the state of Texas.
Both hotels connect via skybridge to George R. Brown Convention Center. Together, the three venues offer a whopping 830,500 square feet of meeting space, proof that Houston is equipped to handle large events well beyond Super Bowl Sunday.