Super Bowl Sunday hoopla? Not in Palo Alto

No big events, few public parties planned locally for the NFL event

The banners won't fly and Super Bowl 50 special events won't be taking place in one of Silicon Valley's premier destinations -- Palo Alto -- according to business leaders. Even sports bars are taking a low-key approach to the golden-anniversary event.

The reasons are manifold; in part, it's because the city is located in the northern reaches of the county and most events are taking place in the South Bay or San Francisco, some local restaurateurs said. True, Stanford University is hosting the Denver Broncos' pre-game practice sessions, and community leaders do expect the area to be busy with visitors. But other driving factors for the understated approach are economic and security-related, business association officials said.

"Downtown has a wait-and-see attitude," said Russ Cohen, executive director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association. "There will be no fun zone or tent village. You have to have staffing and permits."

The logistics of doing anything overtly related to the Super Bowl were too prohibitive, said Judy Kleinberg, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce CEO and president.

"The city applied for special status to use the Super Bowl logo, but nobody wanted to go through with it. It was partly because to do anything official, you had to jump through a million hoops. We thought about it, but the more we got involved -- with the congestion, concerns and crowds -- we didn't think we wanted to invite that kind of concern," she said.

Recent terrorist acts across the globe targeting large crowds, notably in Paris, were also a factor.

"It's a sign of our unfortunate times," she added.

But Kleinberg and Cohen said businesses will welcome visitors who do come to town, and they hope visitors will patronize the city's shops and restaurants. Judging from the bookings at Palo Alto hotels, businesses could be busy. Many hotels were close to being sold out days before the game, with only a few rooms left, reservations staff said during a phone canvass of local establishments.

Jose Sandoval, revenue reservation manager for the Garden Court Hotel, said the hotel was starting to see increasing numbers of people reserving blocks of rooms, which were going for $750 per night, double occupancy. The hotel had already sold out of rooms with two beds. Garden Court had a three-night stay minimum with no-refund deposit but might drop the requirement to a two-night minimum, he said.

At Dinah's Garden Hotel, the average two-person room was going for $281.50 to $369, depending on the day. The higher-end Railroad Barron Signature Suite, which includes a wet bar, was still available on Wednesday at $559.

And Stanford Terrace Inn had a few rooms left, with a standard double going for $422. Crowne Plaza Palo Alto had four of its king-bed rooms left late this week at $451.81, according to its website.

But the city's most obvious places for a football celebration, sports bars, aren't planning anything unusual, employees and managers said. The Old Pro on Ramona Street planned nothing beyond what the sports bar does every year for the Super Bowl: patrons can make reservations, and they pick their seats when they arrive to view the game on multiple screens. Tickets are $40, with $20 going toward food and beverages, an employee said.

At The Patio on Emerson Street, "happy hour" will last from the beginning of the game through the end, and pizza will be available, another employee said.

The biggest advertised event, at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, is the $500-per-person NFL Alumni Gameday Brunch with 10 "pro-football legends."

The Calave Wine Bar on California Avenue will also host a Super Bowl 50 party on game day for $100 per person -- limited to the first 50 people, by reservation -- which will include an all-you-can-eat appetizer, taco and nacho bar and all-you-can-drink beer and wine on tap, according to their advertisements.

Kleinberg said that corporations often book private restaurant dining rooms for Super Bowl parties. But in Palo Alto, a check of local restaurants found that rooms were not sold out.

At New Orleans-themed bar and restaurant Nola in downtown, a 40-person lounge is booked for a cocktail and appetizer party on game day. The restaurant plans to hold happy hour during the game for all other patrons, an employee said.

But Cafe Pro Bono on Birch Street in the California Avenue retail district, another locale noted for its private dining room, did not have any private-room bookings related to the Super Bowl, an employee said.

At the Crowne Plaza's 4290 Bistro, about three or four parties were booked for Super Bowl late-morning brunches, a restaurant employee said. But meeting rooms at the hotel are not being booked exclusively for Super Bowl events, according to Sales and Catering Coordinator Kelsey Krimmer.

The meat lovers' Pampas restaurant on Alma Street is not counting on any Super Bowl Sunday business. It's closing to accommodate an employee party, staff said.

Kleinberg noted that most of the action is in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, for example, is hosting a Pro Football Hall of Fame Super Bowl Luncheon honoring John Madden on Friday at $1,000 per seat. She recalled being a part of the hoopla during a Super Bowl event in San Diego, where busloads of corporate visitors were escorted from their luxury hotels to the stadium by a police contingent. Police shut down the San Diego Freeway to accommodate the caravan.

But this year, Kleinberg plans a low-key Super Bowl 50 celebration in keeping with Palo Alto's muted tone: "I'm going to stay home and be cozy and make popcorn and watch it on TV," she said.

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44 people like this
Posted by realistic
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 5, 2016 at 8:51 am

Be realistic, that 2,000,000 tourists number that the media has been advertising is a big hoax. Yes, there will be more hotel rooms booked than for a typical 49ers game (where most attendees are locals), but probably closer to 200,000 than 2,000,000.

56 people like this
Posted by Quo Vadis?
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 5, 2016 at 8:57 am

I think it is safe to say that the intellectuals and academics in Palo Alto outnumber the sports fanatics. Many people in PA will be working on SuperBowl Sunday. If not in an office or hospital. then at home on front of a computer.

33 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2016 at 10:49 am

I find it interesting that here and on NextDoor a couple of threads were that people were upset that the Super Bowl would bring visitors to Palo Alto and disturb their "quiet" town. There was even a discussion about how the NFL should compensate Palo Alto for the inconvenience of all the visitors. Shame on the NFL for causing visitors to come to Palo Alto.

Now shame on the NFL for NOT causing visitors to come to Palo Alto.


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Campbell
a resident of University South
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:07 am

When I read of the story of how San Francisco allowed the NFL to demand millions of dollars in city services without a single penny of reimbursement (Web Link) I'm thankful that the crony politicking that always accompanies large sports events and _always_ attaches itself to the NFL didn't afflict Palo Alto this go round.

While Santa Clara had the good sense to put in place legal restrictions that their public services couldn't be given away to the NFL without compensation, San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee deliberately avoided this, and unbelievably, gave the NFL whatever they wanted on a handshake deal, without a contract (Web Link)

(Of course, Santa Clara hardly gets off blame-free. They're the ones who put up nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer-backed money to build a $1.3-billion dollar stadium that was the catalyzing event for bringing the Super Bowl to the Bay Area.)

Nearly everything about this event and the NFL and how it continually takes taxpayer money through backroom deals and no-review contracts makes it very clear that no small city, Palo Alto included, would ever even hope to break even in any kind of deal with the league.

11 people like this
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

Thank you for bringing the Super Bowl to the Bay Area, NFL. Anyone who would usually come here for business or tourism has stayed away, and the media are all being ferried around in big buses. The commute has been so much better! I had to drive to SFO this morning, and the traffic was remarkably light for the 8-9 a.m. hour.

29 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

"Intellectuals and academics outnumber the sports fanatics." I'd be willing to wager that there are far more sports fans than academics or intellectuals in Palo Alto. The premise offered by Quo Vadis is one of Palo Alto elitist perception and not reality. Most of the academics and intellectuals I know like sports and follow their teams just like the "regular" folks living here who do the same.

29 people like this
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:50 am

"The city applied for special status to use the Super Bowl logo, but nobody wanted to go through with it. It was partly because to do anything official, you had to jump through a million hoops."

As opposed to getting anything done in Palo Alto.

8 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm


Where did you take into account the additional hotel that SF is raking in?

SF is making out like a bandit. You can't believe everything you read.

14 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm

CNBC has been doing interviews in restaurants in Palo Alto, asking tech people about football (testing locals knowledge).

The players they interviewed at media day knew more about business than the tech people knew about football.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2016 at 2:09 pm

I'm assuming this is superb owl related. Web Link

26 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm

How about San Carlos? Or Burlingame? How about Menlo Park or Mtn View?
Just because you're in the area doesn't mean you're significant to the event. Get over yourself PA, this does not concern you at all.

Also, considering that the entire broadcast will be riddled with sights of the area in its best light, its like having the SF tourism board buying 30 minutes of SB ad time. Factor that cost in and your head will spin.
This is the kind of event that draws and makes lots of money "right now", and then continues to do so as people book their vacations to the area.

"Look how pretty it looks, lets go to SF this year". That stuff really happens. Ask them at the AT&T in Carmel.

13 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Thank you for not pushing for any special events in PA. And I'm with you all the way on how to spend the day. I'll have ready a veggie plate, cheese and crackers, shrimp, dips and sauces, and wine or maybe champagne as well. Come on over and bring your popcorn. Let's party and rock.

I too was puzzled by it and I challenged that big number. Not sure why that was ever floated out there in the first place, to get us all excited about this big event maybe? Why? And for whose consumption? Good old Willie Brown, in Sunday's Chron...he was thrilled that SF was gouging people with 3X normal hotel room rates with a 4 day minimum stay, and restaurants printing new menus with much higher prices. Now, how welcoming and friendly is that to those out of town folks wanting to come to the Bay Area and have a good time?, and stay in SF? Not very, and one time might be the first and last time for them. Oh, but it will bring in so much tax revenue, more coins in our coffer for SF. Nice going, Willie!

@Peter Campbell
Well, let me give you an historical, anecdotal, but real life experience story, about us (PA), hosting the Super Bowl at Stanford Stadium in 1985. My wife, who was working at the Stanford Athletic Department then, and I went to the event. We didn't have tickets for the game, but we just went up and hung around the crowds outside the fenced area around the stadium. There were tents set up all around. Some were set up for "by invitation only" corporate groups, but there were many that were open to the public. Beer, wine, champagne, and 'dogs' and burgers with chips were also served. It was a lot of fun, bumping into celebrities, friends and neighbors in town. Then we went home and watched the game on TV. I've seen pics of the big crowd in the stadium. It was full. I was home, sitting comfortably in front of my TV and watching it with cameras well focused and with replays. That's when the stadium was much larger and had mostly wooden benches. Apple was clever. They provided seat cushions with their name and logo on them. I've since learned that we were Looky Loos back then. Those won't be allowed at Levi Stadium for this Super Bowl. And security...sure the officials and officers were there...with nightsticks and holstered guns, but their main duty was traffic and crowd control, and breaking up drunk rowdy guys fighting. Not a terrorist in sight.

17 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 5, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Reality Check - loved your comment! But have you checked out how Menlo has puffed itself up regarding the Super Bowl? There's an article in The Almanac. Note the added concern about human trafficking, when our sheriff and undersheriff were caught at an illegal bordello out of state that was involved with human trafficking and money laundering. Yet they're still in office.

20 people like this
Posted by Contrarian
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Can't wait for the takeover of the news, and the unending media promotion to be over.
The combination of loud drunks, predictable pictures of screaming fans, violent display, concussions, human trafficking, overwhelming crowds, traffic and security, and potential of gun violence, how can supposedly intelligent people get so excited about watching men attack one another.
Not my idea of entertainment. Please, go away.

27 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Palo Alto, a premier destination? The Super Bowl is in Santa Clara (Stanford Stadium in 1985 was better than the new Levi's Stadium) and when the game is over, all the wealthy rich people will go to SF. Palo Alto has lost alot of it's charm and people bypass it, so off to SF the go....

30 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Feb 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Premier destination? Give me a break..... Best laugh I've had all day!

21 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

The City of Palo Alto might be singing a different tune if the Raiders or 49ers were in the Superbowl this year. We native Palo Altans love the sport of Football and many of us played in High School, or go to the Stanford games and are huge 49ers / Raiders fans going back to the days of Jim Plunkett and Joe Montana. Sorry that the city won't be hosting any special events this time around...but this city is not the draw it used to be as many public entertainment venues downtown have been since converted to office space or parking garages.

23 people like this
Posted by lolz
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I am laughing with @Jean and @HUTCH. Palo Alto, "a premier destination". Try like Lake Wobegon.

8 people like this
Posted by Nayeli P.
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Nayeli P. is a registered user.

@ Quo Vadis? - You wrote: "I think it is safe to say that the intellectuals and academics in Palo Alto outnumber the sports fanatics."

Contrary to this perception, a person can be both an intellectual and academically successful AND a fan of certain sports. There are many students and student athletes at Stanford who cheer for Cardinal athletes and teams. Many brilliant minds are also fans of baseball, football, soccer, basketball and many other sports.

Don't you agree?

9 people like this
Posted by Au Contraire
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 6, 2016 at 10:04 pm

I grew up here, and for those who are laughing about Palo Alto being a "premier destination", perhaps you have also lived here since the 70s and cannot understand all the excitement about Palo Alto because it's always been home to you. But Palo Alto is now "on the map", much more well-known than back in the 80s. Credit technology and its leaders living in Palo Alto - Zuck, Jobs, Mayer, Larry Page, Tim Cook, past CEO of Cisco, etc., plus Steve Young, James Franco and Jim Harbaugh (Paly alums), Franco's book and movie named "Palo Alto", and HBO's Silicon Valley characters live in Palo Alto. Politicians such as Bill Clinton, Obama, Al Gore have visited our city. Lots of publicity of Palo Alto. And trick-or-treating in Old Palo Alto clearly includes out-of-towners, and not just from the other side of 101. My son is studying Computer Science in college and some of the CS students were saying they "should take a road trip to Palo Alto". My son mentioned he grew up here and they were completely speechless. Yes, Palo Alto has arrived, like it or not. Personally, I don't like the extra traffic and wish they would keep it a family town instead of a mini-S.F.

11 people like this
Posted by Cynic
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 7, 2016 at 8:51 am

I thought ABC regulations forbade "all you can drink" events like the one at Calave. I hope they're not driving home.

4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2016 at 9:50 am

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2016 at 10:41 am

All you can eat taco bar for $100?!? I'll pass.

2 people like this
Posted by Au Contraire
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 7, 2016 at 10:44 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2016 at 11:18 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Au Contraire
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by lolz
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Aw shucks. Wish I caught that debate before all the posts got removed. Sure there's a lot going on in Palo Alto behind thick glass and high gates, but not much for a visiting tourist to see or experience. I take my out of town guests on the dime tour: HP House, Stanford/Hoover tower and finish it up with a photo by the Google droid and donut (in Mountain View but close enough). About then they start asking for train times to San Francisco.

3 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 7, 2016 at 5:55 pm

When we have joined sports teams and met others, it's clear they hold Palo Alto in high regard. Everyone knows how expensive it costs to live in Palo Alto. Everyone wants to live here. It's fantastic but there are other nice places to live too. The best thing about living in Palo Alto is the convenient location!

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 7:33 am

Stanford Shopping Center was buzzing yesterday afternoon. I expect everyone thought it would be a quiet day to go shopping.

3 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

There was a lot of congestion around PAHS & T&C because one of the teams (Broncos, I think) practiced daily @ Stanford stadium, . The other team used SJ State's stadium for practice.

Levi Stadium was busy getting prepped for the show & neither team practiced there.

5 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Lolz - what you missed was someone insisting on comparing PA to SF, when in reality PA has more in common with Santa Clara.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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