This venue was my second home leading up to the big game. Wedged between two restaurants on the corner of 33rd St. and 8th Ave (right across from Penn Station) was a tent so large and bustling that it was hard to remember that it was temporary. The Connect Group's 50 Yard Lounge provided ticketed guests with an open bar, food samplings, live music and DJs, access to giveaways, lots of fun, and networking opportunities. Each day from January 29th to February 2nd the venue featured top chefs including Marc Forgione, Johnny Iuzzini, and Alex Guarnaschelli, and a range of culinary choices from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. NFL greats Joe Theismann, Chris Carter, Doug Flutie, and Matt Light were just some of the athletes that participated in meet and greets during the week.
A typical day at 50 Yard Lounge began with breakfast—bagels and pastries from Bantam Bagels and Bomboloni, or maybe a more ethnic breakfast from Rosa Mexicano and Maharlika. Lunch was equally diverse—anything from pastrami on rye to ramen dishes were served up by restaurants such as Buddakhan and Katz’s Delicatessen. For dinner, I tried everything from macaroni and cheese to burgers to beef short ribs. There were plenty of passed samples and passed cocktails, and I was a happy girl. Those who stayed for the late night party (ahem) enjoyed pizza, tacos, or more burgers, depending on the night.
The music was great—bands such as Evan Brum and The Royal High, Catey Shaw (love her song “Brooklyn Girls”), and Idgy Dean encouraged us to party on, and led many Jets House attendees to head over to the 50 Yard Lounge next door and stay there. Celebrity Cruises brought different ice sculptures each day for guests to take pictures with, and Rums of Puerto Rico passed out drinks, hats, flasks, and shirts. 888 Poker offered nonmonetary casino games, and FIJI Water kept us hydrated (thank goodness). This was a great event that I wish didn't have to end.
The Connect Group was founded in 2008 by Lonny Sweet, who has over a decade of sports marketing and event experience. Lonny formerly worked at sports powerhouses SFX and IMG where he managed off-field endeavors for some of the biggest sports personalities in the country, including Shaun Alexander, Jerry Rice, Matt Light, Lindsey Jacobellis, and Kirk Herbstreit. Today, the Connect Group works in the sports, entertainment, and culinary industries, and drives to create “win-win-win” partnerships for clients and partner brands.