INDIANAPOLIS – Attention, SB46 fans: Looking for a celebrity? Need a parking spot or a bathroom? How about a place to eat without waiting for hours? The answers could be just a tweet away.
A year after Super Bowl 45 set a record 4,064 tweets per second during the fourth quarter of the game, organizers are aiming to make this year's game in Indianapolis the most connected Super Bowl ever.
Dozens of volunteers are stationed along downtown streets, armed with tablets and walkie-talkies that connect them to the game's first-ever social media command center. There, volunteers mine Twitter, Facebook and other social networks for real-time news that can help fans avoid hassles that could ruin their Super Bowl experience.
More than 37,000 fans are following the host committee on Facebook and through the game's official Twitter account, SuperBowl2012, where pleas for trash removal mingle with requests for tickets to a Lucas Oil Stadium tour. Thousands more have texted SB2012 for weather, traffic and other information.
And yes, in case you're wondering, there's an app for that: The NFL also has created an official "SB XLVI Guide" app for iPhone, iPad and Android phones with a 3D map of Indianapolis that includes road closures and a parking restaurants and events guide. Ticket holders can also type in their seat section and see where they'll be sitting on game day.
Curious? Here's a user guide to digitally exploring the Super Bowl:
Celebrity-spotting has become a social media sport, and it's in high gear this week in Indy. Want to know where to spot Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow or halftime performer Madonna? Search the game's official hashtag, SB46.
Host Jimmy Fallon, taping his "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" at the Hilbert Circle Theatre this week, has used his Twitter account, jimmyfallon, to post photos of him enjoying the city, from a ride on the 800-foot-long zip line that soars above Super Bowl Village to a walk around Monument Circle, the war memorial-and-fountain adorned center of downtown, in drag. He's given a boost to local restaurants, tweeting about the food and staff. And fans hoping to catch the show live have been checking Twitter to see how long the line is and whether standby tickets are available.
But star watchers, beware. Twitter never promised accuracy.
At one point this week, actor Ryan Gosling was seen at a downtown restaurant, somewhere in nearby suburb Zionsville or an hour away in Columbus, Ind., with Brad Pitt, all around the same time.
GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR:
Last week, a spike in complaints about not being able to find parking led to the creation of an interactive downtown parking map (http://4rd.ca/aaaDPJ), which pinpoints every garage in the area for desperate drivers. But those stuck in traffic might be served just as well to pick up their smartphones.
While driving from Bloomington with her friends Wednesday to see a taping of Fallon's show in Indianapolis, Laura Hunsucker checked the SuperBowl2012 Twitter account for advice on the best routes.
The directions she found there took her group straight to a parking garage with plenty of spaces just a few blocks from Super Bowl Village.
"I never would have thought to take that route if I hadn't seen it on Twitter," Hunsucker said.
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY:
Local restaurants are participating in the host committee's "Text Times" program. When restaurants have wait times of less than 45 minutes, they text the command center, where volunteers relay the actual wait time to street teams armed with tablets and wearing large orange Super Bowl flags to make them easy to find in crowds.
Volunteer Scott Blake sports a walkie-talkie with an earpiece that gives him a direct connection to the command center. When a visitor has a question he can't readily answer, like where the nearest karaoke bar is, Blake can call and get an answer in minutes.
It's also his connection to the "Text Times" program. Earlier this week, a couple stopped to ask where they could eat nearby. A quick check with the command center and they were on their way to the nearby Colts Grille, where there was no wait.
"My job is to help people with whatever they need and welcome them to downtown," Blake said.
TALK TO THE PLAYERS:
Even the teams are getting in on the act. On Thursday, four Giants players took part in the team's Social Media Night. Fans had a 15-minute window with each player, posting questions to Twitter with appropriate hashtags. Safety Tyler Sash fielded questions to askSash about what it was like to make the Super Bowl in his first NFL season, while tight end Jake Ballard (askBallard) was questioned about his pre-game rituals.
The Giants also chose 20 fans for a live video chat with players through Google+.
While the Patriots haven't planned any social-media gatherings, they're not being neglected online. Chevrolet has been tracking Twitter mentions for the two teams on its "Road to the SuperBowl" site, and the Patriots have dominated. Receiver Chad Ochocinco has been mentioned more than 100,000 times, nearly four times the mentions received by the Giants' Victor Cruz.
AP journalists are tweeting from the Super Bowl, too! Follow AP_NFL, or find our individual journalists at http://apne.ws/z7jYCe -BW.