The Cayman Islands is to host the NFL Quarterback Challenge for the next three years, with the first to take place next month.
Eight top quarterbacks (of the calibre of Payton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts) and four wide receivers along with some alumni players will visit Cayman on 19 May for the Challenge, along with two broadcasters who are former players.
The news was announced Friday to attendees of the Cayman Islands Tourism Exchange at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman by MLA Alfonso Wright on behalf of Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford.
At the same time, the announcement was being made at a press conference at Radio City in New York in which Minister Clifford, Director of Tourism Pilar Bush and Cayman Islands Tourism Association President Karie Bergstrom participated just before the NFL Draft Luncheon.
The Cayman Islands is the first international destination that the NFL has partnered with on this programme, said Deputy Director International Marketing with DoT Shomari Scott at the Ritz-Carlton, Friday morning.
‘So that just shows you how much trust they have in us, the Cayman Islands,’ he said.
The competition will be televised as a two-hour event for the first time ever on ESPN, the most comprehensive sports coverage network in the US.
In addition to showcasing the Challenge, the broadcast will highlight various locations in Cayman such as Seven Mile Beach, Stingray City and Rum Point as the backdrop for interviews and segments profiling the participating NFL quarterbacks.
The show will also be aired on the NFL network, which is currently broadcast on DirecTV to 41 million homes.
The Challenge will bring some of the league’s top quarterbacks to Cayman in the off-season for a competition testing accuracy, speed and mobility, long distance passing and the ability to run the ‘No-Huddle’ drill.
The names of the players that are coming cannot be released yet, said Mr. Scott.
Two locations here are being looked at for the Challenge, but cannot yet be named.
Sponsorships are also being looked into, Mr. Scott added.
In making the announcement Mr. Wright said, ‘This partnership will, over the next three years, allow the Cayman Islands to partner with what is perhaps the single most powerful and well known brand in the US.’
He added that the Cayman Islands will be allowed to incorporate the NFL into the marketing and promotion of its many key programmes such as Cayman Summer Splash.
The name ‘Cayman Islands’ will be included in the title of the event and in all promotions of the event and TV broadcast.
‘By hosting the challenge for the next three years, additional cross-promotion opportunities with other recognisable, powerful brands are expected to occur, facilitated by the NFL. Additionally, top executives from the NFL will come to Cayman, allowing for the possibility of future group visitation within the league,’ said a press release from the DoT.
Mr. Scott said, ‘We are always trying to partner with brands that can expand our marketing dollars because the NFL can actually reach places that we wouldn’t be able to reach with our marketing dollars by ourselves.
‘With NFL what happens is we can get into every household and they’ll start to understand where the Cayman Islands is and what it is about because they are looking at their favourite players and looking at their heroes, as such, in the Cayman Islands.’
To celebrate this partnership announcement, the Cayman Islands had a presence at the annual NFL Draft Day experience on Saturday in NYC featuring a booth highlighting activities and attractions on all three islands. A grand prize drawing will be held for one family to win the trip of a lifetime to the Cayman Islands for this year’s Quarterback Challenge.
The Cayman Islands will get local youth involved and is arranging for approximately 400 kids to experience the event free of charge.
The capacity for seats in the stands that are to be used will be 1,600 and tickets, to be made available through the Department of Tourism, will cost CI$25 for adults and CI$10 for children.