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.