944 magazine site will host pre-game concerts, events - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

944 magazine site will host pre-game concerts, events

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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 11:17 pm | Updated: 10:58 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Just days ago it was a big dirt lot. Now, the hard-to-miss big white tent standing tall on Via Soleri has officially become Super Bowl party central.

Radio host, TV reporters flock to Valley

Special section: Guide to Super Bowl week

Sure, all eyes will be on Glendale come Sunday as the Giants battle the Patriots.

But for the next few days, Super Bowl fans will be making a pit stop in downtown Scottsdale first to check out the $2.5 million 944 Super Village and ESPN's live outdoor broadcasting set.

"This means a lot for Scottsdale," said Carly Harrill, corporate events and marketing manager for 944 Magazine, the main sponsor and host of the Super Village. "There's a misconception that it's all cactus and cowboys out here. Scottsdale is a beautiful city that is growing to become a major entertainment hub."

From the sound of power drills and hammers along Via Soleri and the SouthBridge corridor late last week, it appears Scottsdale is poised to show the world it already is a major contender that can attract VIPs.

The 23,000-square-foot 944 Super Village, complete with its own 60-by-30-foot sand-covered miniature football field, will be hosting four days of star-studded entertainment including children's sports and football clinics by day and fashion shows and big-name concerts by night.

Harrill said the Village will be free to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and open to ticket holders for special events at night.

Super Bowl party event promoters say celebrity watchers can expect to see the likes of John Travolta, Paris Hilton, rapper 50 Cent and other A-listers in Scottsdale for the festivities over the next few days.

Nearby on Stetson Drive, visitors will also get to take in their sports news "up-close and personal" with ESPN.

The sports network started broadcasting live at 4 a.m. today from its Stetson Drive setup.

"We encourage people to see the broadcast and talent," said Dave Weiler, ESPN's vice president of production operations and studio directing. "We want that environment."

Weiler said his team knew after touring through parts of Tempe, Glendale and downtown Phoenix last summer and fall that downtown Scottsdale would be an ideal backdrop for global broadcasts.

"Our goal is to find a place so our viewers will see something iconic about the area in the background," Weiler said.

The view of the Marshall Way Trolley Bridge, Hashknife Pony Express monument and Camelback Mountain became the perfect spot.

Weiler said construction on the Stetson Drive set began last Thursday and wrapped up this weekend. Within walking distance, ESPN's 300-plus multiplatform news staff is working behind the scenes in 3,000 feet of office space and trailers. The network also has two 60-foot production trucks on-site, housing its technical equipment and 50-person TV production crew.

The ESPN team plans to offer 90 hours of Super Bowl-related programming from downtown Scottsdale.

"It's time-consuming and a huge commitment, but we enjoy doing it," Weiler said. "It's a labor of love."

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