Spain and the City: Super Week diary

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Yes, the Super Bowl technically will be played in New Jersey, but New York City is just a Hail Mary pass away.

Sarah Spain's running Super Bowl diary "Spain and the City" will be continuously updated as the week goes on. Scroll down to be sure you didn't miss any earlier entries!

Sunday, Feb. 2

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Saturday night I grabbed dinner with my cousin Kyle (above) and co-workers Jane McManus and Kate Fagan, then we all headed to Pier 40 for the DirecTV party. After taking a lap to check out the scene (go-go dancers and Tiesto on the ones and twos), the bars and dessert tables were a must (mini New York cheesecakes, please!)

I ran into Chicago athlete superstars both former (Jeremy Roenick) and current (Swin Cash, below).

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Just after midnight, Jay-Z took the stage. His set was short (just over an hour) but powerful. New songs like Tom Ford and Holy Grail shared space with classics like Hard Knock Life and Izzo (H.O.V.A.).

And the highlight of the night? A guest appearance from the Queen B herself, Beyoncé. Clad in a skin-tight black dress, her long blond hair bouncing with each step, she and Jay-Z performed "Drunk In Love."

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

It was the perfect way to cap off a great week of Super Bowl parties and events. All that's left is the main event itself, the big game Sunday night!

Saturday, Feb. 1

What a night at ESPN The Party!

The red carpet arrivals kept coming for three straight hours -- everyone from Spike Lee to Skylar Diggins, Aaron Rodgers to RGIII, Tim Tebow to Cam Newton and Evander Holyfield to Lindsey Vonn.

Sarah Spain

After I ditched the cameras for a cocktail, I joined the partygoers in grooving to Jermaine Dupris spinning, Kendrick Lamar spitting and Robin Thicke crooning. His mega-hit single "Blurred Lines" closed the party at 2 a.m., and it was time to head back to Manhattan for a little shut-eye.

Sarah Spain

Check out some of the videos from the red carpet, including celebs' picks for their own personal halftime entertainment and the new game "Faces of the Carpet."

Friday night, Jan. 31

Get the lowdown from professional athletes and celebrities on the red carpet at ESPN the Party.

Friday night, Jan. 31

Athletes and celebrities play "Faces of the Carpet" in these #Supergrams from tonight's #ESPNTheParty:

Robin Thicke

Tulsa Shock point guard Skylar Diggins

Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett

Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne

U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn

American Idol's Phillip Phillips

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

Boxer Evander Holyfield

Friday night, Jan. 31

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

It's Friday night in NYC and I'm off to ESPN The Party to work the red carpet. This is always one of the biggest, best (and hardest to get into!) parties of Super Bowl week and this year is sure to be no different.

Robin Thicke, Kendrick Lamar and Jermaine Dupris are performing, and the red carpet will be packed with athletes and celebs. Look out for #Supergrams -- instant videos from the carpet -- tonight and more videos Saturday morning!

Friday, Jan. 31

Kate Fagan and I took over the ESPN set in Herald Square today to shoot two episodes of espnW's "The Word." Check back for those videos soon -- and in the meantime, check us out hovering above the crowd on Super Bowl Boulevard.

Friday, Jan. 31

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Chatting with some of the NFL's best on the red carpet at Madden Bowl XX was great, but the real highlight of the night was the musical performance. "The Roots Presents Hip-Hop NYC" show was a three-hour party featuring special guests Run-DMC, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick, Jim Jones, Doug E. Fresh, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more.

Roots drummer Questlove held court behind his kit from 11 p.m. 'til 2 a.m., backing up all of the performances. The crowd heard classics like Busta's "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," De La Soul's "Me, Myself And I," Naughty By Nature's "O.P.P." and Run-DMC's "It's Tricky" and "Walk This Way." The crowd had a few too many "suits" and not quite enough die-hard hip hop fans, but that just meant those of us who were really into it found an easy path to the very front of the stage.

Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh

Sarah Spain/ESPN

Run-DMC

Sarah Spain

Thursday night, Jan. 30

Which player would these guys pick to start their NFL team? We could give you a mega-hint, but you should check out these #Supergrams from tonight's #MaddenBowl party:

Thursday, Jan. 30

On Wednesday night, I headed to the Smirnoff Ice Ladies With Game Tailgate party. Along for the ride were fellow espnW gals Jane McManus and Kate Fagan and two other fantastic female reporters, Kate Scott and Kami Carmann. We gobbled up sliders, potato skins and other treats while trying out some Smirnoff Ice cocktails and messing around with some photo props.

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

And of course we got our swag on (Stuff We All Get), snapping up the ingenious "Boobypack: A fanny pack for your rack." The perfect item for concerts, festivals and games, it lets you store essentials where they're safe (snuggled up against the old rack 'o lamb). Other partygoers took advantage of free manicures, hair and makeup stations and rousing games of cornhole and extra-large Jenga.

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

After the party we finished the night enjoying the incredible view at The Press Lounge (the perfect spot for reporters, right?).

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Thursday, Jan. 30

New Yorkers share their thoughts on the Super Bowl being in New Jersey and provide some friendly advice for eager fans who are headed to the city.

Wednesday, Jan. 29

One of the questions I asked players at Tuesday's Super Bowl media day was "What's your favorite thing about New Jersey?"

For locals who spend weekends at beautiful beaches like Point Pleasant, enjoy visiting the state's many idyllic parks and live in luxurious manses in Tavistock or Alpine, it's a legitimate question. There's a lot to love about the Garden State.

Of course, I wasn't asking it as a legitimate question. I was being (as per usual) a smart-ass. And, as expected, I didn't get any legitimate answers. Players from both teams seemed uncomfortable, at a loss for words, confused, even.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

A lot of people have been leaving out the "NJ" from this NY/NJ Super Bowl.

"Favorite thing about ... New Jersey?"

"Uhhhh ..."

I didn't get one straight answer. Most simply said they hadn't seen much of it yet or just shrugged, silent. Not exactly the ringing endorsement New Jersey folks hoped for when they won the right to host the big game.

New Jersey residents and politicians no doubt expected to share some of the spotlight with New York City, but in the weeks before the big game, it became clear that the Big Apple isn't much for sharing.

Most media outlets are referring to this as the "New York Super Bowl," not using the official "New York/New Jersey Super Bowl" moniker. Tourists are packing restaurants, hotels and stores in NYC, not East Rutherford.

While New York gets the parties, pop-up restaurants, music performances and "Super Bowl Boulevard" in Times Square, New Jersey gets the business end of the deal. Newark hosted media day on Tuesday, Florham Park will host the Broncos' practices all week and East Rutherford gets the Seahawks' practices and the big game on Sunday.

So NYC is the sizzle and NJ is the steak? Doesn't seem like that raw of a deal. That is, until you consider that New York is getting not only the attention, but the revenue (meals, hotel stays, bar tabs and store receipts), while New Jersey is mostly getting the costs (for public safety in the form of police, fire, EMT and traffic controls for the game).

Feels a lot like regular-season football, huh? Football fans in these parts cheer for the NEW YORK Giants and NEW YORK Jets -- who both just happen to play in New Jersey (and have for more than 30 years).

While Garden State folks may have hoped all this attention would finally shed some light on their important place in the NFL, it doesn't seem like they'll get their wish. You can't help but feel a bit sorry for football's redheaded stepchild.

So as I type this in my New York City hotel room, getting ready to jet off to a New York City restaurant and then a New York City party (both in a New York City cab), I'll at least give a shout-out to the fine state of New Jersey -- for making all of this happen, and bringing me to the great city of New York.

Tuesday, Jan. 28

Media day at the Super Bowl is always crazy. I tapped into my old basketball skills for this one, throwin' elbows and boxin' people out to get in front of the players to ask my questions.

Monday, Jan. 27

I performed my usual Chicago radio duties out of the ESPN New York studios on Monday. I wasn't the only one borrowing space there -- entertainment and sports personality Ben Lyons was one room over doing his ESPN LA show. I also ran into comedian and actor Jeff Garlin at the ABC studios next door -- he would go on to guest on "The Daily Show" later Monday night.

Sunday, Jan. 26

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Forget the Super Bowl, it's Old Masters Week. To celebrate Sarah Spain and family attended a dinner party with an 18th century French theme.

The Sunday before Super Week begins is usually a day to travel, settle into the hotel and start planning for stories and deadlines. This year, things went a bit differently for me; I traded in pajamas and my laptop for a powdered wig and a lace fan.

While fellow reporters were perhaps studying stats, poring over notes (or maybe just downing pints together at a local pub), I was downing strawberry macaroons and chatting with Jennifer Wright, the vice president of Old Master Drawings at Christie's Auction House.

You see, though the football fans in town likely don't know it, the Seahawks and the Broncos aren't the only rivals doing battle in New York this week. Renowned auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's are also facing off, both fighting for the attention (and funds) of art lovers in town for Old Masters Week.

In honor of the occasion, my aunt, Janet Mavec, decided to throw a dinner party with an 18th century French theme. She owned an antique jewelry store on Madison Avenue for over 20 years and is now selling her own line, Orchard by J. Mavec. Over time she's acquired friends from all over the art world, like octogenarian fashion designer Herbert Kasper, who remarked upon entering -- and seeing our bewigged heads -- "You all look like idiots."

Courtesy of Sarah Spain

Sarah Spain joined the New Yorkers focused on brushstrokes and Baschenis this week.

My parents had flown in for the event (that's my dad looking like a cross between Michael Bolton and the Cowardly Lion) and they got a kick out of watching me try to explain the world of sports to the decidedly unsporty crowd.

"Why would you be here all week if the game isn't until Sunday?"

"Who's in the game? And where are they playing?"

"What exactly is the Super Bowl?" (An actual serious question someone asked me. Seriously.)

It was a reminder that the world doesn't, in fact, revolve around the NFL. A sign that even the biggest, baddest sporting event of the year could go unnoticed -- even right in someone's own backyard.

These partygoers knew nothing of #ManningFace, "Omaha!" or Beast Mode, speaking instead of van Mieris, Chasseriau and Fragonard. Imagine their faces were I to tell them that 30 seconds of ad time during the Super Bowl broadcast would cost as much as that rare Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait at Christie's. A treasured piece of art from the late 1500s or 30 unbearable seconds of Bar Refaeli kissing a geek for GoDaddy? Take your pick.

So while my crowd spends the week covering press conferences and parties, many New Yorkers will instead be focused on brushstrokes and Baschenis.

Broadway may have been turned into a temporary football mecca and locals may notice a few more jersey-clad tourists in their midst, but it's clear New York City could never really be "taken over" by anything -- even the Super Bowl.

Introduction

Welcome to "Spain and the City," my running diary of Super Bowl Week in New York. (Er ... New Jersey. Er ... both, I guess.)

While Sunday's big game is what brings the Broncos and Seahawks to town, for many people the parties and events that come before the game are just as big a draw. Stuff like autograph sessions and NFL memorabilia for die-hard football fans and toboggan rides and interactive exhibits for kids. As for the night owls, there are lavish parties, with performances from the likes of Jay Z, The Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and more.

The host committee has dubbed this year's championship "a Super Bowl so historic it takes two states to host it." Yes, the game itself will be played in East Rutherford, N.J., but the rest of the week's adventures are to be had in Manhattan. And I'll be your guide through it all -- a sort of football-loving, cheaper shoe-wearing, much, much taller Carrie Bradshaw.

Check back daily and you'll get inside the sometimes enlightening and always kooky media day on Tuesday, hear about the much-anticipated Roots/Run DMC/Busta Rhymes collaboration at the Madden Bowl on Thursday, take a trip down the ESPN The Party red carpet on Friday and get down with Hov and DirecTV on Saturday night.

The New York City area is making its debut as Super Bowl host, and we'll find out together whether the chilly, crowded streets of Super Bowl Boulevard (aka Broadway between 34th and 47th) can compete with, say, sunny, boozy Collins Avenue in Miami (a 10-time Super Bowl host city).

So settle in with a cosmo (or, if you prefer, a Bud Light) and come along for the ride, as we get ready to experience the "coolest" Super Week in history.

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