Sports Illustrated Returns to Super Bowl

Sports Illustrated is getting back into the competition for best Super Bowl bash, bringing back its party after a two-year hiatus.

SI sat out the event the past two years, a period when other magazines also canceled or scaled back their affairs because of the sluggish economy (SI said it was focusing on events around its Swimsuit Issue, which follow just days later).

This year’s won’t be an intimate affair, either: SI is expecting 3,000 at an event in Dallas Feb. 4 featuring The Black Eyed Peas and appearances by SI Swimsuit models, athletes and other stars.

That would approach the number Playboy had at its parties in the good old days, and handily outdo the 1,200 archrival ESPN expected last year. SI has lined up Bacardi, Nivea for Men, BlackBerry and Under Armour as sponsors.

ESPN, Playboy, Maxim and GQ are also throwing parties to capitalize on the Super Bowl XLV.