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AP: NFL unveils plans for annual Super Bowl football festival


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NFL unveils plans for annual Super Bowl football festival


Associated Press


HOUSTON -- The NFL on Tuesday showed off the centerpiece of its annual Super Bowl invasion, the traveling "NFL Experience" football theme park that will cover nearly half the George R. Brown Convention Center for five days leading to the big game on Feb. 1.

The league gave about 100 Houston-area schoolchildren a sneak preview of the skill-oriented games that will be among the 50 interactive displays covering 800,000 square feet of the downtown convention center.

"I love it because I play football ... wide receiver and backup quarterback," said Christopher Hall of Orange Grove Elementary School. He successfully caught a pass among a maze of padded dummies on the floor of Reliant Stadium. "It makes me feel like I'm there."

Despite coming from a big family, Christopher said he looked forward to visiting the full-scale version next month and wasn't put off by the $15 tickets for adults, $10 for kids 12 and under. Then again, at 10 years old he probably won't be asked to pony up.

Proceeds go to NFL-supported charities in Houston.

Jim Steeg, the league's senior vice president of special events, said the NFL Experience is a major drawing card to attract tourists to Houston and its newly redeveloped downtown area, even those who aren't planning to be here Super Bowl weekend.

"It is a celebration of football for fans in Houston, as well as visitors (from) throughout Texas," Steeg said.

The event has its roots in the 1990 Super Bowl in New Orleans and has grown steadily ever since, Steeg said. It features football skills activities, a mock NFL superstar's home complete with "hangers on," and a microphone setup allowing visitors to do their own play-by-play, among other activities.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday. The exhibits will be open from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25 and again from Jan. 29 to Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1.

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