NFL Challenge brings focus on Cayman

Thousands of new eyes are to be focused on the Cayman Islands thanks to this weekend’s 2007 NFL quarterback challenge, which will be filmed for viewing on major US sports stations ESPN and NFL network.

NFL challenge

Standing from left, Deloitte Partners Jeremy Smith, Taron Jackman, Mike Pilling, Norm McGregor, Ian Wight, Stu Sybersma. Seated from left, Shomari Scott, Department of Tourism; Alee Faamoe, Deloitte. Photo: Submitted

The competition will be filmed Saturday at Cayman Islands International School Park.

It will first air 7-9 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 3 on ESPN, followed by additional airings in August, September, and October 2007. NFL Network also will air the two-hour special throughout August, and projected viewer ship could very well climb into the millions, said a press release from the Department of Tourism.

‘There is no doubt that the event will focus thousands of ‘new eyes’ on the Cayman Islands, and in the second and third years of the partnership it could see hundreds of ‘new bodies’ visiting the Cayman Islands – either for the Quarterback Challenge or for a vacation,’ the release stated.

The NFL is bringing approximately 60-65 people to the Cayman Islands to produce the 2007 DirecTV NFL Quarterback Challenge. These include staff members from the League’s Event Group, those responsible for organising and orchestrating tall events put on by the NFL (e.g., the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and, of course, the QBC); NFL Films who will be producing, filming, editing and broadcasting the programme; representatives from Party Planners West, the event planning consultants used by the NFL and the players and broadcast talent.

In addition to these 65, the NFL is bringing approximately 50 guests who include league management, representatives from Players, Inc. and sponsors.

The Department of Tourism is bringing approximately 10 international sports media to cover the event, and their stories will be heard, seen and read by hundreds of thousands of potential guests, the release noted.

‘Even with the compressed timeline from announcing the deal to producing the event, vacation packages have been advertised to potential guests and spectators in two cities with direct air lift to the Cayman Islands (Atlanta and Miami) and outreaches to media in all the home towns of the teams who will be represented has also taken place,’ said the release.

This will be the first time the Quarterback Challenge has been filmed in an international location, and will see great quarterbacks such as Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins), Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers), Charlie Frye (Cleveland Browns), Tarvaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings), Brad Johnson (Dallas Cowboys), Byron Leftwich (Jacksonville Jaguars), Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers), and Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons) competing.

To add to the excitement they will be completing passes to show stopping wide receivers such as Braylon Edwards (Cleveland Browns), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cincinnati Bengals) and Chad Johnson (Cincinnati Bengals), and Brandon Lloyd (Washington Redskins).

The press release notes that ticket sales are brisk and the entire community is coming together to support what promises to be the largest international sporting event ever to take place in the Cayman Islands.

With opportunities for everyone to be involved, members of the business community have already signed contracts to sponsor the event. Deloitte is the first major sponsor to sign on. Ian Wight, Deloitte’s Managing Partner, said ‘Deloitte could not miss the opportunity to be a part of something so important for our youth’.

The second reason given is for NFL to reach the target tourism market and provide additional exposure for the Cayman Islands’ tourism product on the lead-up to high season.

Tickets will be available from the Department of Tourism offices, located at Regatta Office Park on Friday 11 May and cost $25 for adults and $10 for children.