From Moscow to Mogadishu, Americans Gear up for Super Bowl
LONDON (AP) _ For football fans outside the United States, Super Bowl Sunday is more like Super Bowl Monday. The game starts after midnight in most of Europe and ends around 4 a.m., making for a bleary-eyed start to the week.
Despite the time difference, Americans around the world will be following the game as they do every year - on television and radio, at home and aboard Navy ships, at special Super Bowl parties in bars, restaurants and hotels.
From Moscow to Mogadishu, Americans will have the chance to monitor the spectacle in Pasadena between the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.
For some, it will be easier than others.
Only a handful of the more than 24,000 American troops serving in Somalia will be able to see the game live because of the lack of communications links in that east African country. The rest will have to settle for radio broadcasts or wait to watch the game on tape.
Only the headquarters units of the various services - Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force - have sophisticated satellite receivers that would permit downloading of the live TV signal.
Marine Col. Fred Peck, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Somalia, said American forces were exploring the possibility of arranging a satellite link allowing for the game to be taped aboard the U.S. command ship Tripoli.
″We expect at the very least to have it flown in here on video tape, which is probably the most efficient way to see it,″ Peck said.
Peck said there was a competition among the services to see who can get the tape of the game to Mogadishu first.
″The deputy commander today promised that whoever gets it here first will get our thanks, but if they don’t share it immediately, they’ll also be the last to leave,″ he said. ″They can sit here and watch it over and over again on their VCRs.″
The crews of five U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean - the USS Kennedy, Gettysburg, Leyte Gulf, Guam and Puget Sound - will be able to watch the game live through the telephone satellite sytem INMARSAT. The image, produced by converting telephone signals into television signals, appears as a choppy video on televisions on board the ships.
″It’s not a perfect live signal, but it’s the closest we can get,″ said Lt. Greg Smith, a spokesman for the 6th Fleet in Gaeta, Italy. ″It’s certainly better than nothing, and it’s a real morale-booster for the crew who would otherwise just have the radio.″
In much of the world, Americans will be able to watch the Super Bowl on live television, just as if they were back in the States.
London, with its large American population and considerable NFL following, usually attracts a number of special Super Bowl gatherings.
This year, the Hard Rock Cafe is hosting an exclusive party for 150 guests, organized by NFL Properties and the Channel 4 TV station which will broadcast the game live.
″We’ve been absolutely amazed by the amount of people who want to come,″ said Sally Silvester, promotions coordinator for NFL Properties. ″This party is by invitation only for our licensees and sponsors, but we’ve had people coming out of the woodwork looking for tickets.″
Parties are also planned at Casper’s bar and restaurant in the West End and Kenny’s, a popular hangout for American ex-pats in the fashionable Hampstead neighborhood. For $15, patrons can watch the game and gorge themselves on hotdogs, hamburgers and other American fare.
In Paris, more than half a dozen American restaurants will show the game by satellite on large screens and some will feature all-you-can-eat buffets. One restaurant, Chicago Meatpackers, is planning to bring in pompon girls to add to the atmosphere.
In Germany, bashes are planned in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf. Up to 1,500 people are expected at the Music Hall in Frankfurt for a party sponsored by the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football and Premier pay-TV.
In Spain, a Chicago-style pizzeria in Madrid is offering the game on a big screen and a buffet dinner for $18.
In Moscow, Americans can watch live coverage via satellite at a party at the Radisson Slavyanskaya hotel. The party is sponsored by an American beer company and a local Moscow radio station, with tickets going for $15 apiece.
Not all Americans are in the party mood, however.
Bob Payton, an American restaurateur who opened a string of establishments in London, said he’s not organizing any festivities because of the late hour of the game and restrictive licensing laws.
″It’s just too late all the time,″ he said. ″Why not just lie in bed and watch it on TV? I think the Americans will buy all the popcorn in London and sit around as long as they can stick it out.″
Payton has another solution - he’s flying to Pasadena to watch the game in person.
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