Bourbon Street all but took over Ocean Drive Friday afternoon.
Miami Beach closed most of the popular thoroughfare to traffic, allowing restaurants to spread their tables halfway across the street. Saints fans easily outnumbered Colts fans – the ratio appeared to be roughly 30 to 1.
“Our agenda is to go down the street and party. And find the Who Dat? nation,” said Darlene McGary as she and husband Scott headed south from 10th and Ocean. She wore black-and-gold beads and a Saints t-shirt. He had a Saints visor with fake gold hair. Both are from New Orleans, arrived Friday morning and paid about $5,200 for a pair of lower-level game tickets.
“I was in Tulane Stadium for the first game,” Darlene continued, recalling the start of the Saints’ long-suffering franchise history in 1966. “This is our dream.”
This is the Saints’ first time in the Super Bowl, and New Orleans fans are dominating the ticket marketplace this year. Stubhub.com reports nearly 30 percent of the site’s tickets are going to Louisiana addresses, with less than 10 percent going to Indiana.
Tickets were selling for about $1,200 late Friday afternoon on gotickets.com, a leading ticket resell site.
On Thursday, the cheapest seats on the site sold for about $1,300.
Thursday night, thousands of fans staked their spot in a mile-long line on South Beach, right off of 8th St. and Ocean Dr. They were armed with shirts that read “I love Justin Bieber” and signs that said “You can make me one less lonely girl.”
The crowd was waiting for the VH1 Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam, a free concert that included music artists Bieber, Timbaland and Rihanna.
While the growing crowd waited until the gates to the show opened, Saints and Colts fans, plus thousands of South Florida residents filled the streets and the Super Bowl Fan Zone.
Miami residents Arianna Rivera and Emily Nankervis, both 13 and donning “I love Justin” shirts, walked up anxiously to the Sprint Phone-A-Friend booth at the Fan Zone, where fans can have an NFL player call a friend. Awaiting them was 6-foot, 250 pound Denver Broncos linebacker DJ Williams.
“Is he cuter than me?,” Williams asks referring to Bieber.
“I can’t really say that because he’s closer to age with me,” Nankervis responds.
“What? Well guess how old I am?,” Williams replied.
“16 and a half?,” Nankervis said.
“Close! I’m 18 actually,” Williams, 27 ,shouts and laughs.
This is Williams’ second year with the Sprint Phone-A-Friend booth.
“I love being with the fans and switching it up. I play pranks on people and even leave messages when they don’t pick up,” Williams said.
The Super Bowl Fan Zone was also home to mementos of past players and football games at the Hunt Auctions and Sports Memorabilia tent.
“We have a Dan Marino jersey out here, it’s going for around $8,000 right now,” David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions said. “You can place a bid here or go online where there is even more memorabilia”.
While there are many game winning jerseys on display, there are many fans who hope their jersey will be of the winning team in Sunday’s game.
“We know we’re going to win!,” yelled Donna Roscher, from New Orleans. “We have divine intervention, we’ve been waiting so long, it’s our year.” Roscher drove all the way from New Oreleans with her husband Bill and their two friends, Judy and Rusty Ricks.
When it comes to game time, Rusty Ricks swears by one tradition: “I wear No. 9, Drew Brees jersey for every game.”
While Saints fans shouted their chant “Who Dat!” in the streets, Colts fans were a tad tamer, however they do have one superstar on their side.
“(I’m) for the Colts,” Justin Bieber said as he was preparing to perform in front of a crowd that had amassed to over 30,000.
While fans waited for Bieber to take the stage, hosts Nick Cannon and Nancy O’Dell entertained the crowd. “You want me to bring Mariah out here?” Cannon joked referring to his wife, Mariah Carey.
Before the show started Cannon played the game “Cannon says” with the crowd in attempts to move the large crowd away from the stage. “Someone just fainted, I was up in the front with my daughters too until someone vomited, I was afraid we were going to get trampled,” Donna Eichner said as police attempted to get a girl who was lying on the sand near Eichner to the medics on site.
With the girl safe and the crowd moved back a roar came over the audience when Bieber came on stage. One of his new singles, “Love Me” began playing and the tears from pre-teens started pouring.
After Bieber left the stage a mass of 10-16 years-olds left the audience with their mothers and fathers. “It’s all about Rihanna” Hector Ramos, 19 said.
Before Rihanna, the crowd was treated to Timbaland and his special guests, Keri Hilson and JoJo. Then Ramos’ six hour wait paid off as Rihanna popped out of the center of the stage and performed a full set of songs ranging from, “Umbrella” to her latest single, “Hard”, and Young Jeezy even made an appearance .
“Oh my gosh, she was so provocative,” Ramos said as he walked out onto Ocean Drive, where the concertgoers had already spilled on to the streets.