Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Southbank Party Place Planned for Super Week; Radisson Riverwalk Hotel Would Be the Site of Major Events before the Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Southbank Party Place Planned for Super Week; Radisson Riverwalk Hotel Would Be the Site of Major Events before the Game

Article excerpt

Byline: JORDAN RODACK, The Times-Union

Joe Miller calls himself a visionary. His latest vision involves an ambitious Super Bowl party in Jacksonville.

The city plans to entertain the masses with a large tent-lined district on the Northbank near Alltel Stadium in early February. Miller, a longtime Jacksonville resident and Rotarian who works in the computer industry, saw an opportunity for another large corporate-sponsored event on the Southbank and decided to pitch it to the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel.

The hotel, which has almost 15 acres of available land, liked the idea and, along with Miller, announced plans Tuesday for a large corporate hospitality/entertainment village come Super Bowl time.

The hotel plans to erect luxury suites and large corporate tents on the property, as well as an entertainment stage, food and beverage stands, and a marketplace for businesses to sell merchandise.

Miller, who was also the brains behind the local Gingerbread House Extravaganza, which raised money for Jacksonville's Ronald McDonald House, said a large Ferris wheel may also be in the works.

The area, currently named Riverplace Station, will be open from Friday, Jan. 28, until the morning of Monday, Feb. 7. Alltel Stadium will host the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6.

With too few entertainment venues in Jacksonville and the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park, planned to go right next to the hotel, Miller said he thought the property's size and location would serve well as a Super Bowl venue.

"We knew it was so close to the NFL Experience that it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of it," Miller said. "This [view] is really a movie set and we'll turn this into something similar to a theme park.

"Those people that are coming to see the NFL Experience will have another experience to go to that will be open until 2 o'clock in the morning."

Joe Hockenbury, Radisson Riverwalk's general manager, said Tuesday the hotel is capable of putting together such an event.

"Certainly it's an ambitious plan," Hockenbury said. "But I feel it's something that we can put together well. …

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