Four years of preparation and one week of celebration have finally come down to 60 minutes of football.
Super Bowl XXII, long-awaited hereabouts, begins with a 3:17 p.m. kickoff at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
The Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins will be playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the difference between a $64,000 individual winner's share and a $46,000 individual loser's share . . . and Super Bowl rings.
"I don't have a lot of the money I've earned from the games I've been involved with," said Denver Coach Dan Reeves, "but I have the rings."
This will be the seventh Super Bowl for Reeves as either a player or coach.
City's Shining Hour
For San Diego as a city, this is the first Super Bowl--and the biggest event, sporting or otherwise, in its history.
San Diego has been preparing for this occasion since it got the bid at a National Football League meeting in Washington, D.C., May 24, 1984. Actually, preparations began a few weeks earlier just to secure the bid.
This was a plum for the city because the Super Bowl was expected to bring $141 million in business and, of equal significance, worldwide exposure in the electronic and print media.
Virtually all facets of life were encompassed by these preparations, from hotels to traffic to food service to transportation to law enforcement to entertainment. This was to be the most massive influx of people in the history of the city.
All of that planning culminated this week, when waves of fans and hordes of media converged. The Super Bowl, after all, has evolved from a weekend burst to a weeklong splurge. It has been a week of lavish parties, fireworks, shopping binges, dining . . . and building anticipation.
The Redskins have been in town since last Sunday and the Broncos since Monday, but very few of the week's activities were predicated on which teams happened to be in the game.
Even today--game day--the stage is crowded.
Action Starts Early
Today's activities do not really start at the stadium, but rather move there gradually from private homes, hotels and restaurants.
Throughout this week, the stadium has been one of the quieter places in town. It has been expanded from 60,751 to 74,500 seats, with some of the additional seats placed much tighter to the sidelines with others soaring skyward next to the scoreboard.
The field is a brilliant green, one end zone painted Bronco orange and the other Redskin red.
Appropriately, even on this day, there will be activity on the stadium grounds long before there is activity in the stadium itself. Corporate entertaining will continue in a veritable city of tents in the inner circle of the parking lot.
And then, finally, the stadium itself will be the stage.
The pregame show, a salute to Bob Hope, will begin at 2:35 and include more than 1,000 performers. Hope himself will appear in the finale.
With a flag made of 30,000 helium-filled balloons covering a 70-foot by 120-foot section of the field, Herb Alpert will play "Star-Spangled Banner." The balloons will be released skyward, a final raising of the curtain on the game itself.
The game will get the spotlight for a while, before the stadium turns into a stage for the halftime show. It will feature more than 1,500 singers, dancers and entertainers, and involves moving 88 pianos on and off the field. The whole stadium will join Chubby Checker in the "Super Bowl Twist."
Finally, after halftime, there will be nothing to anticipate but the second 30 minutes of the game . . . and celebrations for the winners.