HOUSTON (KTRK) --In less than three months, Houston will be rolling out the red carpet for the Super Bowl. A lot has changed around the Bayou City since the last the last time we hosted the big game, back in 2004.
"We are definitely looking to wow every visitor that comes to the city," A.J. Mistretta of Visit Houston said.
Mistretta believes the city is more prepared than ever to host a party of this magnitude, citing better infrastructure and new event spaces.
"When we hosted the super bowl back in 2004, discovery green didn't actually exist," he explained.
This time around, Discovery Green will be ground-zero for free fan events. The Super Bowl Live festival is expected to draw 1 million people -- a big jump from the 200,000 attendees at the George R Brown, back in 2004.
There are even more changes to the downtown landscape. Avenida de las Americas is also undergoing a major transformation. Five of the eight driving lanes are being eliminated to allow for a more pedestrian friendly promenade, which will be lined by four new restaurant concepts in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Those establishments are among the thousands of restaurants that have opened in Houston since the last Super Bowl. Houston's 6,000 dining establishments in 2004 boomed to 10,000, all eager to host Super Bowl crowds.
"We plan on sleeping here that week," Ben Berg, Owner B&B Butchers said.
Newcomer B&B Butchers steakhouse is pulling out all the stops. Berg even built a custom restaurant shuttle for guests trying to navigate Houston's streets. The shuttle's interior reflects the interior of the restaurant - from the white subway tiled walls to the leather booths.
"We just want to make it more enjoyable for the guests to eat and to go and not worry about parking and getting in and out, it's about hospitality," Berg explained.
Then there are the hotels. Back in 2004, Houston had 44,000 hotel rooms. By Super Bowl 2017, there will be 84,000, nearly twice that. Among them, the brand new Marriott Marquis connected to the convention center, and the Four Seasons, which is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation to get game-ready.
The goal is not just to impress outsiders, but to make Houston an even better place for all of us, well after Super Bowl 51.
"The Super Bowl puts a spotlight on Houston like no other, and we are going to be able to take advantage of that," Mistretta said.