From big screens to bar scenes, Super Bowl weekend has become a profitable pastime

WILLMAR - For one day a year it seems the whole of America shares one mindset. Men and women will don football jerseys, the elderly and the young will cheer for the same cause and for once, everyone will be excited to watch commercials.

WILLMAR - For one day a year it seems the whole of America shares one mindset. Men and women will don football jerseys, the elderly and the young will cheer for the same cause and for once, everyone will be excited to watch commercials.

When the clock strikes 5:25 p.m. on Sunday, the 41st Super Bowl in NFL history will begin. And with it, the multi-billion dollar machine that has become Super Bowl weekend will begin winding down.

What was designed as a simple way to crown a national champion, has far outreached its primitive goal. The Super Bowl has turned into a reason to party, an advertising powerhouse and even a distraction at work.

In a poll conducted by St. Bernard Software, 32 percent of respondents planned on visiting Super Bowl related Web sites at work prior to Sunday's coin toss. Another 29 percent said they intend to watch or download replays of Super Bowl news reports and commercials at work on Monday.

But while the Super Bowl may bog down employee production, it is somewhat of a cash cow for many businesses.


"It's a nice week at the end of January, early February," said Ross Evink, store director of Willmar's Cub Foods.

Although traditional holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, tend to trump the revenue Super Bowl weekend produces, the store still sees a spike in sales. Evink said the weekend's sales are more in line with an event like Halloween.

To aid those throwing Super Bowl partiers, Cub Foods, and numerous other local grocery stores, offer specials on everything from frozen pizzas to beverages. Evink said the Super Bowl is different from other major sporting events because it is a one-day event.

"It's almost like a social holiday," Evink said. "You have people that have no interest in sporting events partaking in that celebration," he said.

But Evink also admits the Super Bowl may just be another excuse to throw a party, which is exactly what Mike Lamoureux is doing.

As a managing partner at Green Mill in Willmar, Lamoureux is preparing to host the second-annual "couch potato bowl."

"You bring your couch, we'll bring the beer," Lamoureux said.

The couch potato bowl is his brainchild, and Lamoureux sums its roots up to the fact that he just "wanted to do something fun." The party will be hosted in the Willmar Conference Center, with a setup that should dazzle sports fans.


The game will be aired on a 10-foot screen, with surround sound. Attendees will sit in stadium-style seating on sofas -- if they bring one -- and waitresses will provide a couch-side service of beverages from a full bar and limited Green Mill menu, Lamoureux said.

The party begins at 3 p.m. Sunday with a tailgate party. The winner of a field goal kicking competition Sunday afternoon will take the front and center couch at game time. A $5 charge at the door gets you a beer and a hotdog, along with admission to the couch party and a dance held after game, Lamoureux said. But the party is only open to those 21 and older.

Age aside, Lamoureux still expects a full house. "We had 25 couches last year," he said, adding that they have room for at least 250 people this year.

Miller Lite, Rapid Mortgage Inc. and The Loon are co-sponsoring the event, Lamoureux said. If people are looking for a quieter atmosphere, the main Green Mill bar will also be open, he said.

"Just have a good time, that's all I care about."

On a much smaller scale, Jason Kowalczyk of Willmar is planning his own Sunday celebration. Kowalczyk is hosting a Super Bowl party Sunday afternoon. Even though his bash will include traditional party staples like barbecues, chili, chips and a full bar, Kowalczyk said the event is more of a get-together among friends.

"It's just for all of us to get together again," Kowalczyk said, noting that many of his friends are in town for the weekend. "I've got a full bar at home ... I just bought a big screen."

When it comes down to the actual game, Kowalczyk said he is indifferent. "Yeah, I really don't care who wins," he said. For Kowalczyk, the day is more about catching up with old friends than a gridiron showdown.


Although Kowalczyk recently purchased a new big screen, the lack of a Minnesota contender in the Super Bowl has not helped sell any extra TVs at Cullen's Home Center in Willmar. In recent years, Cullen's sales manager, Keith Dahle, said he has heard very little football buzz.

But the lack of football talk has not served as a complete buzz kill for business.

"I typically sell more TVs in January than I do in either November or December," Dahle said. But Dahle has his own theories as to why. "For people around here," he said. "I think more people are watching (the Super Bowl) for the commercials."

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