Bay Area Super Bowl celebration organizers on Monday said they were hoping to "redefine the Super Bowl" with an event that emphasized philanthropy as well as the area's technology, food and arts.
At a kickoff press conference Monday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, members of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and Bay Area mayors touted the event's philanthropic efforts, which have so far distributed $7.5 million in grants to Bay Area charities and are on track to distribute more than $13 million, according to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.
That includes 44 grants totaling more than $2.7 million in San Francisco, 33 grants totaling nearly $2 million in Alameda County and 24 grants totaling more than $1.4 million in Santa Clara County so far.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said that the charitable
donations alone helped justify the cost to the city of staging the event, estimated at more than $5 million. Critics have decried the use of city funds for the NFL celebrations.
"When you think about it, that is already in excess of the cost," Lee said, referring to the $7.5 million distributed to charities. He noted that that money was in addition to the financial benefits expected for city businesses and hotels and others during the Super Bowl, which is expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors.
Super Bowl events launched this weekend with opening night celebrations at Super Bowl City, a free fan village centered around Justin Herman Plaza. The celebrations included the relighting of the Bay Lights, fireworks, and a free concert by Chris Isaak. A number of other musical acts including Alicia Keys and Matt Nathanson are expected to perform in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
So far, an estimated 150,000 people have visited Super Bowl City, organizers said Monday.
The free fan village and the ticketed NFL Experience at Moscone Center both opened nine days before the big game for the first time, in a move intended to allow local residents a chance to enjoy the Super Bowl events before national visitors descend for the big game on Feb. 7.
Organizers said the Super Bowl celebrations have been a
collaborative regional effort intended to represent the best of the Bay Area to the world.
"The Super Bowl is a showcase of everything that is great about the Bay Area, our technology, our food, our wine, our music," Keith Bruce, the host committee's president said.