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NFL, Cirque du Soleil to open NYC interactive experience in 2017

Times Square, often associated with giant retail stores and Broadway shows, is adding another image to its portfolio: the NFL.

Teaming up with Cirque du Soleil, the experience will offer a permanent interactive exhibit to football fans visiting New York. The highest grossing professional sports league and world's largest theatrical producer announced the Times Square experience will open in the fall of 2017.

The partnership marks the first sports venture for Cirque du Soleil, which has partnered in the past with names such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson. "We see the NFL Times Square experience as an opportunity to leverage our creativity to bring to life another one of the world's greatest brands and expand our capabilities beyond live productions," Scott Zeiger, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical President and Managing Director told CNBC.

The 40,000 square feet exhibit will span four floors and include a 350-seat theater, showing 20-minute shows that will recreate what it feels like to be part of a game, on the sidelines or behind the scenes.

The NFL Players Inc., which is the licensing and marketing subsidiary to National Football League Players Association, will work closely with Witkoff Group, a real estate development firm and Marriott Hotels.

The exhibit will also feature regular updates.

"It will be a hub full of surprises and excitement," Zeiger said. "NFL Times Square will offer highlights of the previous football season, current and former player appearances and live broadcasts from NFL Network."

Times Square real estate is often perceived as much of an advertisement opportunity as it is a revenue-generating operation. The NFL experience will also show NFL content on a giant exterior digital screen seen by the more than 300,000 pedestrians who pass through each day.

The tourist destination has seen changes over recent years of its flagship tenants, with its recent closing of Toys R Us, which will be replaced by Gap and Old Navy.

The announcement comes at a time when traditional retailers and malls are working harder to create consumer experiences, fighting off competition from online shopping.

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