After the Dolphins' pathetic wildcard playoff loss to the Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Sunday in South Florida should be a day of mourning. But the biggest bowl of 'em all will take place in South Florida, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami-Dade. So, like it or not, it's party time.
Because the stadium has only so many seats, promoters are counting on an overflow of humanity to fill Super Bowl-related events. They also plan to collect a chunk of the estimated $340 million that will be pumped into South Florida as a result of the game. With so much at stake, the connection between any event and Super Bowl XXXIII (that's "33"), however tenuous, will be milked for all it's worth.
Some events are directly tied to the big game, such as the NFL Experience (January 29 through 31) at Pro Player Stadium (2267 NW 199th St., Miami, 305-530-4400). For $15 per day, football fans will emulate their heroes in passing and catching events or simply worship them at museumlike shrines featuring NFL memorabilia. For the real thing, they can stop in at the Topps Super Bowl XXXIII Card Show, where as many as 30 NFL players will meet and greet fans.
And for just $5 to $12, fans will be assured of mixing with hundreds of NFL stars at the NFL Players Party in Miami Beach (between 20th and 22nd streets, January 29 through 31). Players will sign autographs, participate in basketball, golf, and billiard competitions with fans, and take turns getting soaked in a dunk tank. (Call 888-657-2789.)
All of this football-theme stuff sounds logical, but exactly what does softball have to do with NFL football? Nothing, unless the game in question is the Hollywood All-Stars vs. NFL All-Stars Celebrity Softball Game. Saturday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium (5301 NW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-761-5346), Tom Arnold, Jonathan Silverman, and other Hollywood stars will take on NFL players in the benefit game for NFL Youth Charities. Ticket prices range from $6 to $8, and the game starts at 2:30 p.m.
The biggest stretch of all is the "Superbowl of Russian Festivals," which takes place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (2001 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-566-6358). Admission is free, and Russian entertainment, an ethnic- and religious-items store, a raffle, a bakery, and, of course, a selection of Russian dishes will be available.
What Russia has to do with football is anybody's guess, but, then again, Super Bowl Sunday is no longer just a national sporting event; thanks to TV, it's an international holiday.
-- John Ferri