Just as when the NFL’s Super Bowl finally came to Los Angeles this past February after so many years, the College Football Championship came to town this weekend, and both big games have drawn the attention of football’s glittering new $5 billion palace. otherwise known as SoFi Stadium.
Along the way, championship weekends have also been fueled a host of festivities outside the games, Expanding the experience for fans, inviting dignitaries from across the sport, and giving visitors more to do in the nation’s second-largest city.
ESPN, which airs Monday night’s game between the defending champions University of Georgia and Texas Christian University, also threw a blast party Saturday night in downtown Los Angeles, featuring a performance by Grammy-nominated singer/producer Mike Posner (I took a pill in Ibiza).
The party took a while to get going, thanks in part to a related concert by the Jonas Brothers, which took place 5 miles away in Bank of California Stadium Close to the USC campus and the Los Angeles Coliseum.
But once the party got going, I got stuck after midnight. Hundreds of attendees crammed multiple levels of The Majestic, which spans 30,000 square feet. Event space with Italian architectural touches such as a central marble staircase, in a nightclub/bookstore.
The walls were covered with bookshelves (although the books were more Reader’s Digest and John Grisham novels than academic theses). The bar menus mimicked the fairytale book read in ESPN’s feel-good college football ads for the season, Once upon a time in a game.
Among those in attendance were former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, a series of on-air ESPN and SEC Network personalities including former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, and a phalanx of online influencers, many of them former athletes.
But the party, as in previous years in other cities, was also a meeting place where notables from across the cracked, wide world of major college football could reconnect and socialize. I chatted, for example, with athletic directors (and their wives) from North Carolina State University and Kansas State University.
I also spoke with top executives in El Paso, Texas‘Sun Paul.’It’s, er, now called the Tony the Tiger Sun bowl. Regardless of the name change, the Sun Bowl remains one of the largest and longest running postseason games on ESPN’s block of games filling programming from mid-December to early January.
There were executives with companies that provide travel arrangements for all college sports teams around the country, and Learfield, which provides Multimedia marketing services for both schools Monday evening and dozens more You try to reach out to brands and fans.
And fit in with a sponsor-led business (and party; Allstate Heavy Sports Advertiser
The walls of the event featured a slew of photos of the big games and players from the season, notably Georgia Stetson Bennett IV and TCU quarterback Max Duggan, both finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Another national championship trophy was also shown, which was set up so that people could be photographed next to it.
On the second floor, there is a private bar run by him Cali craft cocktails He’d burn chunks of pecan, cherry, and mesquite wood, or use activated charcoal sprays to create smoked versions of classic drinks like the Old Fashioned.
Less surprising drinks included revolving coolers behind basement bars adorned with another big sponsor, Dr. Pepper’s soft drink. The executives with a tire distributor in Atlanta (mostly big fans in Georgia) got tickets to the gig and the game; It didn’t hurt, they said, that their company sells billions of dollars worth of tires to owner Goodyear
The former Jonas Brothers party and concert weren’t the only festivities of the championship weekend. A 5K fundraising road race and a festive fan experience called Playoff Fan Central was held at the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, along with a media day for the players of both teams on Saturday morning.
A food event called Taste of the Championship was held on Sunday night at Hudson Loft, two blocks from the Convention Center. Allstate is also sponsoring a tailgate party on game night at two SoFi parking lots, though a rain forecast could cancel those plans.
Then, like those rain clouds, once the game is over, everyone’s out of town, and on to the next season.