NFL Super Bowl finale on Wollongong menu

Kelsey McIntosh and Jimmy Butcher practise for the Super Bowl showdown on Monday. Picture: GREG TOTMAN
Kelsey McIntosh and Jimmy Butcher practise for the Super Bowl showdown on Monday. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Football fever will take over Wollongong on Monday but for once, it isn't the Dragons on centre stage.

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will contest the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, with hundreds of millions of people around the world to tune in from 10.30am (AEDT).

It may be 16,000 kilometres and 16 time zones away but the Illawarra will embrace the unfamiliar concept of American football with several local bars hosting viewing parties.

"We decided to do a party a few days before last year's game, and we got a big turnout," said Stan Crinis, owner of Dagwood on Market Street. Dagwood - with an American-themed decor and menu - will open early to welcome NFL fans.

"There's definitely interest in American sports here. We show the NBA too, and lots of American students or people who have travelled to America come watch the games."

North Wollongong Hotel and Towradgi Beach Hotel will also host Super Bowl gatherings, and they will not be alone.

"Super Bowl Sunday" is one of the biggest days on America's party calendar, with 1.25 billion chicken wings, 5.5 million kilos of potato chips and 52 million cases of beer consumed across the United States mainland.

Wollongong will embrace the trend, as bars offer the appropriate menu including hot dogs, wings and American beer.

"It's about the party and social aspect of it all," Mr Crinis said.

But it is not only food and drink spurring the region's love of American football.

James Caputi, coach of the Wollongong Brumbies gridiron team, said Australian TV networks had gradually embraced the sport, with a growing local audience.

"It helped they started live telecasts of the games, so you don't need pay TV to watch it," he said.

"You see people walking around town in Wollongong wearing team jerseys and caps, and they follow the sport."

The Wollongong Brumbies won back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012, had players selected for state and national representative teams, and started the career of US college star Jordan Stalker, whose skills won him a full scholarship to Gardner Webb University, in North Carolina.

"The popularity of the game is definitely increasing here," Mr Caputi said.


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