More than five years ago, the Miami Dolphins unveiled a $400 million plan to renovate what is now known as Hard Rock Stadium. A year later, in May 2016, NFL team owners voted to award the Super Bowl for the 2019 season to south Florida, with Miami just edging out Tampa.
It didn’t take long to put two and two together for David Grutman, owner of LIV nightclub. As we enter the week of festivities for Super Bowl LIV, perhaps no one is happier than Grutman.
“My favorite part of the night now is driving through Miami and seeing all the billboards for Bud Light and this one and that one and seeing LIV all over,” Grutman tells me. “It’s amazing. It’s like, ‘Wow, I couldn’t even pay for this kind of branding.’
“The signs all over Miami, the flags, the actual stadium says Super Bowl LIV. I don’t know how you could even think of something like this. It’s the best thing ever.”
Grutman is the nightlife kingpin of Miami, owning several entertainment spots across South Beach that earned him the sort of popularity to make a guest appearance in the newly released Bad Boys 3. But Grutman’s greatest creation — the one that made him famous — is LIV.
Located in the historic Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, LIV (pronounced like live as in “to live and let live”) has become one of the most popular nightclubs in America since its inception in 2008. Interestingly, the name has its origins in two different places. First, the Fontainebleau opened in 1954, hence the roman numerals LIV for 54. And then there’s the reference to Studio 54, the most historic nightclub in American history.
“That’s an iconic club that wrote the history book,” Grutman says. “So it’s LIV. And to be honest with you, I honestly think LIV is the 54 of our generation. … We try to stay away from any reference to 54 — except for this week obviously.”
This is actually the second Super Bowl to include the numerals “LIV” in that order. And in a stroke of incredible luck, Super Bowl XLIV also took place in south Florida. After the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts in February 2010, several members of the Saints team (including Reggie Bush with his then-girlfriend Kim Kardashian) came to party at LIV, which had opened just two years earlier.
Since then LIV has become a sort of Disney World for champions, Grutman says. The Heat partied there following both of their LeBron James-led titles. The Mavericks sprayed champagne in LIV after upsetting the Heat. Many boxers and UFC fighters travel there for the big Sunday blowouts following their victory on Saturday night.
“And LIV has been very helpful for the Miami Heat as well,” Grutman says. “Because the visiting team that goes out on Sunday, you should definitely bet against them on Monday if they’re playing the Heat. That Sunday visiting team always loses.
“It’s gotten to the point where when a visiting team comes to town, I’ll get a call from the Heat saying, ‘Can you please take them out tonight?'”
Is that a fact?
“Fact! I’m telling you,” Grutman says.
When I first reached out to Grutman, I did so with the idea that the famously image-conscious NFL would have long ago reached out to LIV to ensure there was no trademark or copyright infringement during the lead-up to the big game. I figured he would even have some good stories about an intimidating phone call or two from the league.
No such calls have been made, Grutman says. In fact, he said the host committee called him to let his group know that the Super Bowl Live event in downtown would have the “LIV” enhanced in the graphic and wanted to give Grutman a courtesy heads-up.
“We don’t write the words Super Bowl LIV on anything. This is their mark and their weekend, and we’re just so happy that they’re doing it in Miami,” Grutman says. “We’re not trying to push the envelope on that. We’re very respectful. By osmosis alone we’re getting so much branding. I can’t even … I don’t have to do anything.”
There’s even a LIV club inside Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins took 17 skyboxes and turned that space into a club area. Then they took 400 seats below that and turned them into 220 bucket seats and tables. It’s the whole LIV experience inside the stadium for Super Bowl LIV.
The original LIV in Miami Beach is 18,000 square feet and hauls in upwards of $50 million in revenue annually. It will continue its Wednesday-to-Sunday schedule this Super Bowl week with talent such as Cardi B, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Tiesto and Marshmello.
In Grutman’s world, this isn’t Super Bowl 54. It’s Super Bowl LIV, and he’ll even correct you all while wearing a smirk.
“It’s just so great for Miami. It’s such a great city to host it,” he says. “Usually Super Bowls are in these terrible cities and this year it’s in the best city in America. People are going to be freezing their asses off around the world and they’re going to be coming to beautiful Miami Beach.”