Culture 5 min read

Downtown Houston Gets a Super Bowl Makeover

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Houston, Texas is Super Bowl city for the second time since the city’s current NFL franchise began in 2002. The Houston Super Bowl host committee learned from their last Super Bowl in 2004, and they have put the best the massive city has to offer within arms reach for every local and visitor alike. Houston hopes to be the return destination for the Super Bowl within the next decade.

In 2004, Houston hosted the biggest sporting event in the U.S., the Super Bowl. When the Super Bowl happens in your city, the eyes of the nation are upon you, and in 2004 Houston gave an underwhelming impression.

Now, Houston is getting another chance to strut its stuff on the national stage with the Super Bowl LI. With the help of corporations such as Houston First and Station Houston the city is gearing up to show the U.S. makes Houston, Texas the perfect place to host the most important events.

#HoustonFirst and #StationHouston helped gear the city up for #SuperBowlLIClick To Tweet

Since the last Super Bowl that the city hosted, the downtown district has doubled its residents, renovated the convention area around NRG Stadium, and has even added more food and entertainment offerings for the droves of fans coming to see the big game.

Houston may be the energy capital of the world and the home of the famed NASA Mission Control Center, but to entice travelers coming to see the super bowl, they need to boost their tourist appeal, and that has led to many downtown renovations. Those renovations, however, entail a massive effort that requires an uptick of businesses and hotels in the city. Also, sustaining such an effort requires a rise in inner-city population to make sure that businesses and cultural locations have enough people to run them and add to their cultural significance.

Today, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner told SportsRadio 610 on the show “In the Loop,” that Houston was doing everything it could to bring out Houston’s nation-leading cultural diversity and hospitality to ensure that the Super Bowl returns to Houston within the next 7-8 years.

Changing Space City’s Landscape

According to Peter McStravick, the overseer of the downtown revitalization, convention business has gone down since 2004. “Two of the reasons included a lack of hotel rooms within walking distance,” says McStravick, “and a lack of destination appeal.”

Answering these issues was not an easy task, but that’s where Houston First came into the picture. Thanks to the corporation’s efforts and around $175 million in funding, Houston has altered itself for the big game. Changes to the city include a makeover for the George R. Brown Convention Center and the new Marriott Marquis hotel which features a Texas-shaped lazy river on the roof (which, in Houston, was a big news story when it was completed).

Some areas have received less love, however, such as the Midtown area east of Houston’s Main Street. According to Jon Taylor, who teaches a class about Houston at the University of St. Thomas, “There have been complaints about derelict buildings, vacant lots, half-used old strip mall shopping centers, and nuisance issues with the homeless population.” Despite these claims, changes in other parts of the city have led onlookers like Taylor to admit that the outlook for the town is still good in the face of Super Bowl LI.

A large contributor to the change of Houston’s downtown district is Station Houston, a hub for technology startups that has recently expanded into the area.

Through Station Houston, over 170 early-stage software entrepreneurs are getting help with their developments, and there is a direct correlation between the uptick in business and the rise in population in the downtown streets.

Technology Startups have an Effect on the City

Station Houston has teamed up with multiple companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Corporation, which attracts new talent and technology projects. Because many more people are working in and occupying downtown, Houston is more likely to give the impression of a bustling hub of industry, which should improve its reputation in light of Super Bowl LI.

Discovery Green, a popular park in downtown, is the site of a nine-day festival ahead of the game, and this is where these tech companies get to show off their shiny new products or projects.

Residents and tourists alike can enjoy a virtual reality simulation of a journey to the surface of Mars thanks to NASA, and many more activities are available to turn the bleak convention-area landscape into a bustling party, which is sure to impress fans and show off the city’s diverse business and entertainment landscape.

Thanks to organizations like Station Houston, the downtown population is set to double itself in size during the next three to four years, according to the Houston Downtown Management District.

If you paid attention to media day, the efforts to provide an improved Super Bowl experience have more than succeeded. Houston may be famous for its energy companies, but thanks to a burgeoning tech sector, cultural diversity and food culture visitors get to see what Houston can really be–a city for the future.

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William McKinney

William is an English teacher, a card carrying nerd, And he may run for president in 2020. #truefact #voteforedgy

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