Super Bowl XLIX: Free and Cheap Things to Do in Phoenix

It’s been a drizzly, gray week in Phoenix, but that hasn’t stopped the glorious mayhem, clamor, and all-around madness that comes along with hosting a major event like the Super Bowl.

Although out-of-towners may not get as much vitamin D as they might have expected this weekend (did I mention the sky is pretty gray out there?), the rain won’t stop the city from turning into party central this weekend.

This time around, the Arizona Super Bowl will look a little different than it back in 2008, the last time the Big Game came to the desert. Back then, Super Bowl festivities were relegated to Scottsdale and Glendale (home to the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the game is played).

For Super Bowl XLIX, downtown Phoenix is playing a key role in the pre-Super Bowl festivities, thanks to the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a nearly week-long party that has converted downtown into a pedestrian-friendly oasis of live music, snacking, and copious day-drinking.

In the days leading up to Super Bowl weekend, downtown turned into a round-the-clock construction zone as workers set up stages, billboards and giant roman numerals.

Here are some snapshots of Phoenix being transformed into Super Bowl central, followed by four free or cheap things to do in Phoenix this Super Bowl weekend.

Giant football in downtown Phoenix

The giant Super Bowl XLIX football was installed in downtown Phoenix back in November 2014 in anticipation of Super Bowl 49. All Photos: Dave Maestas

City Skate Phoenix Downtown ice rink

The City Skate Phoenix ice rink in downtown Phoenix is staying open until February 1st this year. Patriots and Seahawks fans, bring your ice skates!

The Pepsi "Hyped for Halftime" stage under construction in downtown Phoenix.

The Pepsi “Hyped for Halftime” stage under construction in downtown Phoenix.

Can you tell Pepsi is a major sponsor of this shindig?

Can you tell Pepsi is a major sponsor of this shindig?

Cool new art going up on a downtown Phoenix wall.

Cool new art going up on a downtown Phoenix wall.

Super Bowl flags in downtown Phoenix....Purple and orange. Homage to the Phoenix Suns, maybe?

Super Bowl flags in downtown Phoenix….Purple and orange. Homage to the Phoenix Suns, maybe?

FREE

The Roots (and other great live music) at the Verizon Super Bowl Central. Saturday, Jan. 31. at the Pepsi Hyped for Halftime Stage, near the intersection of First and Washington Streets in downtown Phoenix. I mean, when else do you get to see one of the most acclaimed hip-hop/soul groups of all time playing in the streets of downtown Phoenix? Did I mention, free? Showtime is scheduled for 8:15 pm. Along with live music, Super Bowl Central will feature rock-climbing, ice skating, the NFL Experience over at the Phoenix Convention Center, and plentiful food and drink – all for an additional fee, of course.

An ’80s extravaganza at Westgate. Over on the westside, a stones-throw from the University of Phoenix Stadium, a free live show from ’80s one-hit-wonders (better than no-hits, am I right?) like Dramarama (“Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)”), Gene Loves Jezebel (“Jealous”), Bow Wow Wow (“I Want Candy”), and Naked Eyes (“Always Something There to Remind Me”). Westgate Entertainment District, 9401 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale. Free. Show starts at 6 pm.

Scottsdale Fan Fest. ESPN will be broadcasting live from this free, family-friendly festival, which features celebrity cooking demos, an NFL wives’ fashion show, and of course, the thrill of possibly seeing your face plastered on cable news. You can arrive as early as 4 am to watch ESPN’s live broadcasts, which will include “Mike and Mike” and “Sportscenter.” The festival takes place on the north side of Scottsdale Fashion Square, at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Scottsdale Road.

CHEAP

Four Peaks Beer Extravaganza at the Crescent Ballroom. Stay close to the energy downtown – but just outside the fray – at the Crescent Ballroom’s celebration of one of the city’s most beloved breweries. There will be more than 10 Four Peaks beers on tap, along with food trucks, live music, cornhole, and other assorted hipster-approved activities. 308 North Second Avenue. $3

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