LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – With COVID-19 cases receding and spirits rising, Los Angeles is set to party hard ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl with its biggest slate of events since the pandemic hit nearly two years ago.
In West Hollywood, John Terzian, co-founder The h.wood Group, is overseeing construction of a temporary venue for a star-studded, two-night event featuring pop star Justin Bieber on Friday and special guest Drake on Saturday.
The Los Angeles native said the energy in the city is at an all-time high.
“I have not seen LA with this type of buzz probably in my history,” Terzian said. “I’d imagine the ’84 Olympics was like this.”
A vaccine card or negative coronavirus test is required to enter the invite-only party at the Pacific Design Center. But once inside he hopes to offer people an escape from the COVID-induced malaise.
“Honestly, coming off of two years of this pandemic, which we still take very seriously, I think people just want to have something to root for,” he said. “They want to be entertained.”
The theme of The h.wood Group and fashion retailer Revolve’s party is “Homecoming Weekend” as the championship game returns to Los Angeles for the first time in nearly three decades.
Sunday will mark the eighth time the region has hosted the NFL’s big show, including the first Super Bowl in 1967.
“It feels like the Super Bowl is really coming home,” said Josh Zipkowitz, co-founder of Uncommon Entertainment, which is producing the event.
“And that really is kind of the core component of why we are investing so heavily, to the tune of around $6 million, to produce such a special event,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited to be here.”
PENT UP DEMAND
In the Fashion District, unKommon events founder Seth Kaplan is on day 10 of the build out of a 150,000-square foot (13,935 square meters) “retro futuristic” pop up venue on an empty parking lot for a two-night Maxim and DirecTV bash.
Hosted by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and featuring performances by Gunna, Lil Baby, Tiesto and The Chainsmokers, the event is expected to draw 3,000 people each night.
Kaplan said the demand from partygoers and sponsors was so strong that he had to add the second night, especially after the hometown LA Rams punched their ticket to the NFL season finale.
“Everyone is more excited than I’ve ever seen,” Kaplan said.
“It’s pent up demand. Two years ago was the last time there were any parties. Tampa last year was really just a game because of the COVID restrictions, so more than ever, people are excited.
“Especially with an LA team playing in their home stadium. Everyone is really, really excited to just get out there and experience it.”
COVID CASES DROPPING
Los Angeles has seen a 65% decline in COVID cases since the peak of the winter surge. If the trend continues, its mask mandate could fall in the coming weeks, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Monday.
Party goers are not alone in wanting to move on from the pandemic and at the game, the NFL hopes there will be few visible reminders of it.
The stadium will be packed to capacity with more than 70,000 fans. Attendees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test to enter the stadium, and masks will be required except while eating and drinking.
Players and coaches will receive pre-game COVID tests only if they report symptoms.
But COVID will not put a damper on the festivities, Garcetti told Reuters.
“We’ve learned to live with this surge and it’s on the way down.”
(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bill Berkrot)