The Super Bowl is coming to Santa Clara Feb. 7, and along with it comes a huge opportunity for both this year’s host city and its residents. That is, if they know how to properly take advantage of it.

The premier football event will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year in a city that’s better known for being the heart of Silicon Valley than a professional sports hub. The city’s odds of pulling it off would seem low to an outsider—but they would be wrong

Santa Clara city manager Jennifer Yamaguma believes Santa Clara can capitalize on the influx of tourists with the help of promotions set by the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, which is responsible for planning and producing the event, and extra assistance from local tech giants like Yahoo, Intel and Hewlett Packard.

“A number of events in the city will help energize and build excitement for the game,” says Yamaguma. “We realize not all residents will be able to go to the actual game or viewing festivities and we’ll have to do more than just host the event.”

The host committee is organizing local teams known as “super committees” and has planned several events such as fireworks, ice skating, and musical performances outside of the big game to keep tourists engaged throughout the entire weekend. “We want to showcase how Santa Clara is unique and what it has to offer,” Yamaguma says.

Already companies like Google have announced they will step up by providing company shuttles, which are usually used to transport their workers around Silicon Valley, to get sports fans in the Bay Area to the game. Meanwhile, Apple is supporting the event behind the scenes by providing committee members with digital devices and equipment.

The Super Bowl planning committee is taking community involvement to a new level with the NFL’s Business Connect workshop. The program gives businesses that are at least 51% owned by a minority, woman, disabled veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individual the ability to provide goods and services during the annual championship game. It’s one way of ensuring that local businesses profit from the experience just as much as the teams and fans.

“The whole bid behind the Super Bowl was focused on the Bay Area and the genesis for what we’re calling super communities, which are communities in the Bay Area that are hosting local events related to the game. The idea is that the Bay area is a unique, fun place where people will want to visit even after the game,” says Yamaguma, who also points out that the Super Bowl will cover most (if not all) security-related costs this year, leaving the city to focus funds on providing tourists with a great experience.

If the city is to truly succeed, it should replicate the strategies employed by Indianapolis, which is widely considered one of the best host cities in Super Bowl history. It not only organized a lauded championship event, but also made money on it—something host cities rarely accomplish. Once derisively called India-No-Place, the city saw increased convention business and tourism after the big game.

Morgan Snyder from Visit Indy, the city’s official tourism department, points out that Indianapolis succeeded, in part, because it already hosts world-class events. “It worked in Indy’s favor that we are a downtown deliberately designed to host large-scale sporting events. In fact, we host over 300,000 people annually for the world’s largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500,” she says.

Santa Clara is no newcomer to large crowds, having hosted Wrestlemania at its world-class arena, Levis Stadium, but the Super Bowl is something else entirely. With any luck, the city will have a positive hosting experience, just as Indianapolis did.

The post Get ready for the Santa Clara Super Bowl appeared first on Free Enterprise.