A hotel lobby wouldn't normally be the place to party, but these aren't normal times.
That's where team groupies have been hanging out, hoping--with considerable success--to corner their favorite players for autographs, and to otherwise enjoy San Diego's version of the Mardi Gras.
Consider 20-year-old Michael Hasley, who positioned himself next to the main elevator, holding a collage of photos of Broncos players and getting as many as possible to leave their autograph next to their picture. By midnight Thursday, he had gotten all but three.
Then there was Glee Robey, a Denver season-ticket holder who followed her team to San Diego. Never ever in Denver did she give thought to collecting autographs, but she got caught up in the frenzy at the Marriott as she watched other signature seekers maneuvering through the crowd to grab their targets before they were lost to elevators to guarded floors.
So Robey started asking players to sign her Broncos jacket. Within 2 1/2 hours, she had 13, and now she would not rest until she had them all.
"I never had any idea of how exciting this would be until I showed up here," she said.
If the lobby is busy, pity the switchboard. Night manager Sandra Nordstrom said: "We've had more messages come in for guests in the last three days than we've had in three months. (John) Elway is getting 30 or 40 a day--like from the guy who said he used to play Little League with him and was wondering about a ticket. But mostly they're from girls saying things like: 'Meet me at the bar at 6.' "
The hotel staff doesn't seem to mind all the commotion. It's not exactly a case of grin and bear it. There's more grinning than bearing, it seems.
The lobby bar, Nordstrom said, has been pulling in more receipts nightly than even on New Year's Eve--and this party is lasting all week.
He never touched on football.
And for good reason, it turns out.
As Leno was being walked through a back kitchen toward the stage--having gotten in town only half an hour earlier--he pulled Garvey publicist Jeri Burbank aside.
"He said he doesn't really follow football," Burbank said, "and asked me which teams are playing in the Super Bowl."
Now, that's funny.
Can the Broncos handle the pressure? Can the Redskins handle the pressure? Can the Point Loma sewage treatment plant handle the pressure?
Yes, as long as everyone doesn't flush at once at the start of halftime on Sunday, said Yvonne Rehg, spokesman for the city's Water Utilities Department.
"There may be a momentary drop in water pressure, especially around the stadium," she said. But the system has handled the demands of a full stadium before with no problems.
"There may be more seats at the stadium than ever before, but there's the same number of toilets," she said.
Don't know if that's good news or bad news.
In any event, Rehg suggests that fans at home and at the stadium do their civic duty by spreading out their potty stops during the game. "I, for one, would rather watch the halftime, so I'll be more inclined to flush during the game," she said.
ABC-TV sportscasters Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf got some time alone Friday with a bevy of Super Bowl game referees, including head NFL official Art McNally.
But not by appointment.
They were sharing the same elevator at the downtown Marriott, which got stuck between the third and fourth floors for an hour and five minutes.
Seems that there was room at the inn after all in San Diego County. Friday morning, 3,271 rooms were still reported available by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. Most of the phone calls coming in Friday weren't for rooms, but for information about parties and bus shuttles around town.
Good idea, shuttles.
At Seaport Village, the parking lot was closed at 10:45 a.m.--the earliest in its 8-year history--as party-goers with coolers and Coleman stoves came early to stake out their viewpoints for Friday night's fireworks-laser spectacular.