Countdown to Super Bowl XLVI: NFL vendor wraps up city before Superbowl begins - Ingles

If Christo were a capitalist, he would want to work for Sport Graphics.

In what has become a ubiquitous trend, host cities for major sporting events decorate the local businesses, hotels and airports with giant vinyl decals. From the 32-story image of the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the side of the JW Marriott to the signs on the sides of the moving walkways at the airport, Indianapolis appears to be wrapped in Super Bowl vinyl, nearly all of it provided by Sport Graphics, which is based here.

Frank Hancock, the company’s owner and chief executive, may never be mistaken for an installation artist like Christo, who along with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, attained international fame for wrapping big things in colorful fabric. But Hancock has become the N.F.L.’s go-to vendor for building decorations for the last two Super Bowls, and his team of 25 designers has transformed downtown Indianapolis.

The wraps, made of a vinyl adhesive, can be placed almost anywhere, although installation is not always easy.

“It’s like putting on a lot of wallpaper,” Hancock said. “You’re dealing with about 40- to 48-inch rolls. You start down and line the next one up. There has to be a lot of organization in something that large. If you get one roll out of place, you’ve got a mess.”

Standing at the corner of West Washington Street and North West Street, just across from the JW Marriott, one can see why the N.F.L. likes the signs. Fans, a stream of them, stop to take pictures of themselves in front of the Lombardi trophy and all one million square feet of wrap that is on the building.

Kristi Spehler, in town for the game from Cincinnati, was among them.

“I think it’s great,” she said of the signs. “It shows that the whole city is embracing the Super Bowl being here and getting everybody excited for it.”

Anne Dunlavy, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, said that the installation was low impact and that no guests had complained about obstructed views. “I think most people kind of like the attention,” she said. “ ‘I’m in that room!’ ”

When given an assignment, Sport Graphics employees explore the city to find what they call opportunities, or areas where their signs would work. They then draw a map of buildings, with pink boxes representing the square footage that could be used.

Having previously worked for the N.F.L. on the annual scouting combine that is conducted in Indianapolis, Hancock was eager to create a new look for his hometown for Super Bowl week.

“It’s a compact downtown and they’re decorating everything,” he said of Indianapolis. “I went to a Super Bowl in Miami and you wouldn’t know you’re at a Super Bowl, because it’s so spread out.”

The wraps are not just for show. Many are used for the practical purpose of covering the signs of competing advertisers. Sport Graphics has covered the Colts’ individual sponsor signs in Lucas Oil Stadium, replacing them with the various sponsors of the N.F.L. Even the 16-foot promotional AirTran airplane hanging in the building had its logo covered with one from the Super Bowl.

“It was easier than taking the plane down,” Hancock said with a laugh.

For a man who has lived in Indianapolis his entire life, attending every Indianapolis 500 since 1964, the hardest part was not figuring out the logistics of the signs, assigning his teams, assembling the materials or dealing with the N.F.L.

“Everybody asks what the toughest thing was — ‘Was it the JW?’ ” Hancock said. “But it was probably covering up Peyton’s mural on the front of the stadium.”

Adding insult to injury, Manning’s mural is covered by a Patriots logo and a picture of Tom Brady.

The signs will start coming down immediately after the Super Bowl, with the N.F.L. working with Sport Graphics to recycle as much of the material as possible. But the work of Sport Graphics is hardly done. Hancock is not only expecting to do all of the wraps for next year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, but also thinking of ways to maximize the impact of the wraps in New York for 2014. And that is on top of the other events that Sport Graphics handles on a yearly basis.

“Everyone is saying, ‘I’m just thrilled we can take a break,’ ” Hancock said. “But we’ve got the Final Four in New Orleans in six weeks!”

This article was written by Benjamin Hoffman and appeared in the New York Times.

Posted by Necesitamos Mas Football on 09:26. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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