Less than a year after opening its doors (Dec. ’17), the NFL Experience (NFLX) will be “ending its season” effective September 30th. The 40,000 SF football themed interactive attraction, located at 20 Times Square, had been touted as an opportunity to bring fans closer to the game than ever before. Unfortunately, not enough fans enjoyed the experience; while the league did not release a statement explaining why NFLX was closing, one employee said it had failed to “meet expectations.”
Howie Long-Short: The NFL Experience was a joint venture between the league and the entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, though it appears the league’s power brokers offered minimal support (in the way of cash, operations and promotion) to ensure its success. Cirque du Soleil, served as the lead investor and oversaw the project.
In theory, keeping fans engaged in the off-season and find new ways to drive revenue makes sense, but the location selected likely killed the venture’s chances of success before the project had even gotten started. 2 other sporting concepts (ESPNZone and Sports Museum of America) had shuttered their Times Square location doors within the last decade and with ground floor space in the area (between West 42nd and West 47th) now commanding rents +/- $2,000 per square foot, NFLX was never going to draw enough visitors to turn a profit.
For those wondering, 90% of Cirque du Soleil is owned the U.S. P.E. firm TPG Capital, the Chinese investment firm Fosun Industrial Holdings and the Canadian institutional investor Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec. Of the 3, only Fosun Industrial Holdings is publicly traded. The company trades on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK), under the symbol 656.
Fan Marino: The NFL Experienced offered fans the opportunity to go “from the practice field to the Super Bowl.” Interactive simulations of gameday experiences (think: walking out of the tunnel onto the field), a 4D rollercoaster theatre and the chance to celebrate with the Vince Lombardi trophy were among the football theme park’s marquee attractions (here’s video). For those who want to make a visit before the venue closes, it will remain open daily between the hours of 10a-8p.
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