- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2000

It was more a battle of the ads than a battle of the football teams at MicroStrategy's Super Bowl party on Sunday, "The Football Party of the Millennium," at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

The hands-down winner: E-Trade, with its commercial showing two old guys and a monkey, followed by the admission that it blew $2 million for Super Bowl advertising time. "What are you doing with your money?" the ad asked. (Runner-up was "Federal Express' " fantasy delivery scene from the "Wizard of Oz.")

"I'm in a women's fantasy football league, and I wouldn't recognize any of my players up there," said Adria Deasy, looking up at the wide screen television in the thickly clouded humidor cigar bar. "Probably most of the women here don't know anything about sports. I come for the fun and the fashions."

"The fashions?" her friend Andrew Riccobino said incredulously. He then got up to get more free beer.

"This is every guy's dream of what his basement would be like," said their buddy, Rand Wilson, looking at all the people seated in comfy chairs and sofas scattered around the bar, all facing the wide screens.

A few thousand of the 7,000 invited guests braved the snow-topped streets laced with ice to watch the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in the best nail-biter in a long time. Most of the crowd seemed to be loyal Washington Redskins fans, but their grunts in unison suggested that perhaps some Super Bowl wagering had been going on in the nation's capital.

Guests were treated to burgers, fries, hot dogs, crab cakes, chicken wings and a huge cake in the shape of the Redskins football field.

"This is probably the most food I'll have all year at one time," said a German native who asked not to be identified. "So I'm taking small bits so it looks like I'm not eating a lot."

There was a massive kids' play area, free video and other arcade games and tours of the Redskins' carpeted locker rooms.

"Don't they have dividers here?" a fan asked about the coaches' shower room.

"Noooooo," staffer Tim Pollard of Fort Washington, Md., said with a laugh.

Even a few of the more adventurous dashed out to the sleet-caked field to kick field goals with the black-and-red MicroStrategy foam footballs.

MicroStrategy Chief Executive Officer Mike Saylor, who spent much of his time glad handing and getting business cards shoved at him, kept his eye on MicroStrategy's first-time, late-game TV ad.

"I have a $2 million bet on that ad," he told employees celebrating on the stadium's third level while VIPs, including Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont Republican, and 1970-82 Redskin Ron Saul, partied on the fifth level.

Actually, the high-tech firm, which is based in Tysons Corner, Va., paid $4.1 million for six ads: four before the game, two during. Naturally, the commercials for MicroStrategy sparked thunderous cheers.

The game, of course, wasn't decided until the very last play.

"They'd better score before you get a heart attack," said Albert R. "Butch" Hopkins, president of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp. He was laughing with his friend, Titan fan Annette Gibbs, as they watched the game in MicroStrategy's skybox, which served as the event's VIP suite.

"Watch out," Ms. Gibbs screamed with five seconds left. "Here it comes."

Final score: 23-16.

"It was a great game, but my heart is broken," Ms. Gibbs said.

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