San Francisco Bay Area

Sneak Peek into Big Game Bigger Impact

The Preface from Big Game Bigger Impact provides you with a fly-on-the-wall view of what it's like inside an NFL bid presentation


May 21, 2013. Boston Long Wharf Marriott.

Months of planning and preparing had all come down to this moment, and no one had any idea what was going to happen next.

Together, we sat in a windowless conference room that served as our holding pen while the big show went on in the Grand Ballroom. Twenty-four hours of practice and pulling it together—both the presentation and our nerves—were now over, and all we could do was wait for a signal from NFL officials. Who was going to win the opportunity to host the 50th or 51st Super Bowl was anyone’s guess.

Our on-the-ground team included San Francisco Bid Committee Chair Daniel Lurie and bid coordinator Danielle DeLancey, Steve Van Dorn of the Santa Clara Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Michael Crain and Luke Dillon from ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, SF Travel head honcho Joe D’Alessandro and me. My role was to secure the corporate backing that would show our region’s commitment to hosting a Super Bowl. Thanks to a few of our region’s business leaders and an assist from legendary Silicon Valley advisor, coach and my good friend Bill Campbell, we were coming to the table with about $30 million in pledges.

Our group—the San Francisco Bid Committee—had the hope of bringing the 50th Super Bowl home, but truthfully, we would have been happy with either game. The Super Bowl hadn’t been in the Bay Area since the “dark ages” of 1985 when it was held at the old Stanford Stadium. It’s been said that legendary NFL owner Lamar Hunt—the man who coined the term “Super Bowl”—got splinters in his backside from the stadium’s wooden bench seats and muttered to his wife: “we are never coming back here!” And never back had the Super Bowl come.

Hours earlier, we were shown to our war room, which was sandwiched in between our two more experienced competitors, South Florida and Houston. We were up against South Florida for Super Bowl L, and the loser of the first round would go up against Houston for Super Bowl LI. We had the opportunity to win one, or none.

The experience and confidence of the Houston and South Florida bid teams were obvious from the onset. In the hallway outside our war rooms was extensive catering for both cities, both of which had hosted Super Bowls in the past decade. We had a tray of water and soft drinks. We didn’t have the money to afford much more and, frankly, we were too nervous to eat.

We set up our room with a few tourism posters and our bid logo that featured the Golden Gate Bridge as football goal posts. We also had a 49ers helmet for decoration, which provided us with some comic relief as the waiting dragged on. Fortunately, the photos of me with that helmet on haven’t made the light of day yet.

To our mild horror, there was one consistent feature in all the rooms: NFL Network cameras and sound equipment, set up to capture each group’s reaction to who had won and who had lost. Looking at the cameras, I thought to myself: “How cool is this?” It was a reminder that what we were doing was important enough to be on live television. But it was also a reminder that if we screwed this up, it would be there for the world to see. This moment really meant something to the many people back home who helped us get to this point. We tried not to think about it as we tweaked and practiced our final pitch. The NFL production team assured us that there was a few seconds’ delay, and content would be sanitized of any expletives before going on the air.   

Earlier in the day, we got the opportunity to practice in the actual ballroom where we would do our final presentation. The room was set with two long tables running perpendicular to the presentation stage. These tables were really long because we were presenting to not only the 32 club owners, but also their representatives and League officials; several hundred high-backed black leather swivel chairs lined each side. Commissioner Roger Goodell and senior NFL officials would be seated at a long dais at the front of the room. The two massive video screens above the stage and assorted monitors scattered throughout the room provided the only light, while dozens of cameras were strategically placed to capture absolutely everything.

About 30 minutes prior to our presentation, we were led into a staging area just outside the ballroom. The South Florida delegation was up first, and we could hear the high points of their presentation punctuated with music and deep bass through the walls. Suddenly, the doors opened and five of us—Daniel, Joe, Steve, Danielle and I—were ushered into the room.

It was an intimidating scene to say the least. Pitch-black except for the monitors, you could sense the weightiness of the moment in the room. Several hundred of the wealthiest people in the world were staring back at us, in complete silence. I felt like we were about to elect a new Pope.

All we could do now was watch and listen as Daniel and Joe made our case for a San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl. Months of preparation had come down to a 15-minute pitch. As the guys finished, we stared across the giant room that was now deafeningly silent; our presentation didn’t receive a single reaction. Were we any good? Did we blow it? We had no way to know as NFL officials led us back to our war room.

Once inside, we hugged each other, and then just sat and waited. Finally, we got word that Houston had finished their presentation, a moment that triggered the monitors in our room to come alive and show us the view from the ballroom. As our phones buzzed with well wishes, we sat and watched the voting unfold right before our eyes.  

After a very short time, we were notified the owners had reached a decision. There was no more time left to wait, so we just stared at the monitors in the room and watched as a League official passed a slip of paper to the Commissioner on the dais. Commissioner Goodell cleared his throat and began to read into the microphone. “It gives me great pleasure to announce that the 50th Super Bowl, Super Bowl L, is awarded to…San Francisco.” 

We burst into cheers and leapt in the air, hugging and high-fiving, completely forgetting that all our movements were being broadcast on live television. Our mobile phones literally exploded with texts, tweets, emails and calls. Next door, the NFL Network broadcasted the silence in the South Florida war room. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat, side by side, in real-time.

The door suddenly swung open, and Commissioner Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York strode in with NFL vice president of special events Frank Supovitz, all smiles, handshakes and hugs. Somebody opened a bottle of champagne. Don Lockerbie, a member of the South Florida delegation and a friend from my days with the San Francisco Giants, walked in with two bottles of wine for us to toast our victory. It was a classy move. They still had hopes of being awarded the 51st Super Bowl, so we wished them well.

We were then asked to meet with members of the press who were waiting down the hall to report the verdict. It was fun to share the excitement of the moment with the national and Bay Area reporters in attendance as celebrations were already happening back home.

Soon we learned Houston had been awarded the 51st game, so we made our way next door to hug and congratulate them as well. The South Florida green room was now empty except for the catering set-up in the hall; they were already making their way home after being shut out.

The next morning, waiting for our Virgin America flight back to San Francisco, the reality began to sink in. We had just been awarded a Super Bowl, and not just any Super Bowl. The 50th Super Bowl. The National Football League’s Golden Anniversary. The biggest Super Bowl the NFL has ever celebrated. Now, we actually had to make it happen.

Holy shit.

It's Almost Time! What People Are Saying


The countdown is to May 18! We cannot wait to share Big Game, Bigger Impact with you! In the meantime, we'd like to share some advance thoughts on the book from friends and colleagues from the San Francisco Bay Area community.

So many people were instrumental in the making of Big Game, Bigger Impact because, at its heart, this book is about how people from around the Bay Area came together in partnership to redefine the Super Bowl experience and ensure its legacy would be felt long after the last whistle was blown. We are so thankful to those who read the many drafts of this book, who helped us jog our memories along the way, and for their words of encouragement and support. 

Big Game, Bigger Impact takes you behind the scenes for an insider's peek into how the power of sports can create positive change. Gallagher and Martin make a fascinating business case for corporate social impact. A must-read for any executive looking to grow their business in a community.

Larry Baer
CEO of the San Francisco Giants

Fittingly set in California's Bay Area, a destination synonymous with innovation and creativity, Super Bowl 50 redefined the consumer experience for large-scale sports and entertainment events. Big Game, Bigger Impact tells the compelling story of an effort that paid dividends for California.

Caroline Beteta
President & CEO, Visit California

There’s nothing bigger than the Super Bowl. And there’s never been anything bigger than the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl. It takes a real village to pull off something like that—a village of public and private sector giants! Big Game, Bigger Impact provides a fascinating look into what it took to accomplish something as big as the golden anniversary Super Bowl in a complicated city like San Francisco. It should be required reading for all organizers of world-class events.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr.

For Super Bowl 50, we established an ambitious goal of ‘redefining’ the Super Bowl experience. This book recounts the incredible story of how that all happened [during our three-year journey together]. Pat and Stephanie tell the inspiring story of how we accomplished our mission, and how the San Francisco Bay Area came together to ensure that Super Bowl 50 would set a new standard for global sporting events going forward.

Keith Bruce
CEO & President, San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee

Big Game, Bigger Impact is the inspiring true story of how the San Francisco Bay Area community came together to redefine the Super Bowl experience. Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin shine a light on how amazing things can happen when people come together in partnership. This book is not only relevant for those looking at mega events, the lessons learned apply to those contemplating any business or community event or activity. Besides, it’s an intriguing read that provides life lessons for all of us. I highly recommend it!

Joe D'Alessandro
President & CEO, San Francisco Travel

In Big Game, Bigger Impact, Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin tell of the amazing journey of bringing Super Bowl 50 to the Bay Area, after a 31-year drought. In the Bay Area, we set high expectations for anything we do. Not only is the story a great read, but along the way, Pat and Stephanie share how our community came together to deliver the most important Super Bowl to date. They tell the story of how it all happened, and the lessons learned that can be applied to any massive business endeavor.

Joe Davis
Senior Partner and Managing Director
Boston Consulting Group

Superbly crafted exposition of behind-the-scenes of a highly successful mega-event. Rich learnings for both sports management in general, and for the planning and the execution of complex events with multiple stakeholders and a global audience.

George Foster, Ph.D.
Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management
Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Big Game, Bigger Impact outlines the gold standard of how a community thrives when we work together! As one of the $500,000 Game Changer Grant recipients from the Super Bowl 50 Fund, Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) was able to expand and deepen our work with at-risk and system involved juvenile justice youth in the Bay Area. I see firsthand the impact Super Bowl 50 has on our community and am so grateful!

Christa Gannon
Founder & CEO, Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY)

Big Game, Bigger Impact is a blueprint for leveraging a large-scale event to create real, positive change. It was an honor to work alongside Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin on Super Bowl 50; it had a lasting impact well beyond the game ended, and their book chronicles that journey with thoughtful reflection. I’m hopeful this story will inspire future events to follow in our footsteps.

Daniel Lurie
CEO and Founder, Tipping Point
Chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we constantly challenge the status quo and our approach to hosting a Super Bowl was no different. In Big Game, Bigger Impact, Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin pull back the curtain on how our community came together to show the world not only how a Super Bowl could be run, but also the kind of legacy it could create across our region. 

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, State of California

Super Bowl 50 was a milestone event for the NFL. It was a year-long celebration that not only honored our past, but set the tone for the next 50 Super Bowls. Our vision required great partners and innovative ideas. The San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee served as the unique partner we needed. In this book, Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin capture the spirit of this milestone year--how they captivated the region, navigated through challenges, and left a powerful, positive legacy across the entire Bay Area.

Peter O'Reilly
NFL Senior Vice President of Events

Big Game, Bigger Impact is the story of how the Super Bowl can be so much more than just the world’s greatest sporting event. The authors Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin remind us how much can be accomplished when a community comes together to pursue a goal. They explain how the Bay Area formulated a winning game plan, executed it to near perfection and ultimately scored.

Carmen A. Policy
Napa Valley Vintner & Former President and CEO of San Francisco 49ers

Big Game, Bigger Impact captures the essence of hosting a Super Bowl, from the day-to-day blocking and tackling to the strategies that can result in championship experiences for fans. Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin deliver an important read for anyone in international event management as well as a model for how events like the Super Bowl can make a real difference in their host communities. 

Daniel Rascher, Ph.D., CVA
Professor & Director, Sport Management Program, University of San Francisco
President of SportsEconomics, and Partner at OSKR

Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin take us behind the scenes to tell the story of how Super Bowl 50 broke new ground—engaging a region from Sonoma to San Jose, bringing millions to Super Bowl City in the middle of San Francisco, and creating a philanthropic legacy to support nonprofits across the Bay Area.  Whether you’re a veteran sports marketer, a business leader, or a fan who has always wondered what goes into making this huge sports event happen, you will enjoy and learn from Big Game, Bigger Impact. 

Becky Saeger
Former CMO, Charles Schwab and EVP Marketing, Visa

I experienced firsthand the power of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee's philanthropic efforts as the CEO of Juma Ventures, a recipient of the $500,000 Game Changers Award.  The investment helped accelerate the impact we are making with low-income youth. Big Game, Bigger Impact reveals the thoughtful steps taken to ensure the community benefitted in a meaningful and lasting way! 

Marc Spencer
CEO, Juma Ventures

With millions of dollars in economic impact and direct investments in local businesses and nonprofits, Super Bowl 50 is a real-life example of how global sporting events can leave a lasting legacy. Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin have taken the principles that established their solid professional records, and applied them to the biggest stage possible in America, the Super Bowl. In Big Game, Bigger Impact, the authors share the roadmap their organization followed and the moral compass that guided them.  

Dr. William A. "Bill" Sutton
Founder and Director, Sport and Entertainment Business Graduate Program, University of South Florida
Principal, Bill Sutton & Associates

From our first meeting, it was clear that Pat and Stephanie were going to bring the best of the Bay Area to the Super Bowl and re-write the playbook along the way.  Big Game, Bigger Impact brilliantly captures the exciting journey to Super Bowl 50, with anecdotes, behind-the-scenes stories and wisdom that both entertains you and makes you think. A must-read for innovative thinkers and sports fans alike.

Lorraine Twohill
SVP Marketing, Google

Whether or not you’re a football fan, Big Game, Bigger Impact, is an inspirational must-read story for anyone wanting an insider play-by-play on how to give back to community, big time. Having first-hand experience working with the Host Committee, I saw the real impact they made on our nonprofit. Authors Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin bring you on the field and inside the board rooms with a fast-read, story-filled playbook with insights that anyone who wants to give back can learn from.

Villy Wang
Founder, President & CEO of BAYCAT
TED Speaker

To deliver the most spectacular Super Bowl to date, we knew cities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area had to come together in a way they never had before. The way our community galvanized not only exceeded expectations, but also resulted in a win for the entire region in making the event the most philanthropic Super Bowl ever. Big Game, Bigger Impact provides not only the blueprint for how it was done, but also lessons that can benefit any business leader.

Jed York
CEO of the San Francisco 49ers

I was proud to be part of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee effort and even more proud of how the Bay Area community put on a Super Bowl experience of a lifetime. In the Bay Area, we know a lot about being champions, and with Super Bowl 50, we had the chance to shine once again; (Host Committee CEO) Keith Bruce and I could attest to that. In Big Game, Bigger Impact, Pat Gallagher and Stephanie Martin share the story of how our community came together and set the bar for how all future Super Bowls should be experienced. 

Steve Young
Pro Football Hall of Famer, 3-time Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl XXIX MVP