For the past year Danny Boockvar has been preparing for the launch of the NFL Experience Times Square, or NFLX, a four-floor, 40,000-square-foot venue with an immersive 4-D movie theater and virtual-reality effects that allow visitors to see themselves in uniform and calling a play in the Super Bowl. The venture, to open Nov. 30, is managed by Cirque du Soleil, with content and player likenesses licensed from the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The project was developed in part by the Witkoff Group.
You have a lot of competition in Times Square. Why will people come here?
There are 100 million NFL fans and only 5% ever get to a game. What a chance for them to experience football in a way they could never experience it anywhere else. Think of it as the Hall of Fame meets Epcot meets a little bit of Dave & Buster’s—with a liquor license—in Times Square, at 47th and Seventh.
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Will it be challenging to attract tourists who might not be football fans?
Obviously it’s a home run—err, a touchdown—with domestic tourists. The U.K., Canada and Mexico are the top feeders of international tourism. With those markets our brand is well on its way.
Given the real estate costs, how long does this have to succeed?
It’s a responsible business plan with realistic expectations, but it is the first one, so we’ll be under a microscope.
Are you worried about the president’s criticism of the anthem protests?
We expect NFLX to be very popular with fans.
Is concern about brain injuries dampening enthusiasm for the brand?
We’re confident NFLX will deliver a unique experience given the high-level interest in the NFL and football in general.
How much are tickets?
The prices will vary from $39 to $55 depending on the time you come.
WHO HE IS President,
NFL Experience Times Square
DEVELOPMENT COST $30 million
GREW UP Hewlett, Long Island
RESIDES Upper West Side
EDUCATION Bachelor’s in international relations, University of Pennsylvania; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School
CAREER ODYSSEY Boockvar worked as a lawyer at Simpson Thacher before joining Weight Watchers, where he rose to senior vice president of U.S. operations. He joined Girl Scouts of the USA as chief operating officer, then took the top post at New York Cruise Lines, parent of the Circle Line.
FUTBOL TOO A state champion soccer player in high school, Boockvar coaches the West Side Red Bulls travel teams that his teenage son and daughter play on.
FAVORITE GIRL SCOUT COOKIE He likes to eat Thin Mints, frozen.
If you come at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday in August you will pay more than at 10 a.m. on weekdays.
Will all your revenue be from ticket sales?
The potential private-event business in Times Square, even outside of New Year’s Eve, holiday parties and the like, is out of this world, whether it’s slumber parties, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs. That’s a very big part of the business model.
How will you attract people in the offseason?
That’s a bit of an unknown. But what the NFL does so well now is that it’s 365 days a year. The minute February’s done and the Super Bowl is done, you turn around and it’s the draft.
The truck attack was deemed terrorism. What’s your outlook on tourism?
It’s very encouraging. NYC & Co. has a marketing campaign to attract international tourists and make sure they feel safe. It really is the safest big city in the world, and from the Bloomberg administration to the de Blasio administration, they have done a good job to preserve that.
What’s the common theme in your career?
It’s not a career path for the faint of heart. Being a Long Island kid, you’re supposed to be a lawyer or a doctor. I have an identical twin brother who’s a doctor. To call my mom and say, “I’ve left Simpson Thacher to work at Weight Watchers,” wasn’t easy. The common thread is mission-driven brands headquartered in Manhattan.