Wednesday, January 19, 2011
North Texas ready to be Super host
By Calvin Watkins
It's been two years since the NFL awarded North Texas Super Bowl XLV.
"Now, it's our time!"
Those are the words of Bill Lively, president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee and one of the key figures in an effort that has the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex hosting America's premier sports event.
Preparations for the Feb. 6 game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington are not limited to the stadium and its immediate surroundings.
Take a drive down almost any highway in North Texas and you will see a billboard reminding you there's a big game coming. Exit a restaurant or nightclub and you might find a flier attached to your windshield about a Super Bowl party.
The host committee has incorporated surrounding cities like Flower Mound, Grapevine, Frisco, Plano, Mansfield and others to host Super Bowl events.
Get off the highway and you'll see small signs sticking out of the grass advertising that people are willing to rent out their house or apartment to fans coming to the Super Bowl.
The media center for the game will be in Dallas. That's where TV, radio, Internet and print journalists will descend for the week leading up to the game. ESPN has set up its headquarters for the event in Fort Worth's Sundance Square.
It's apparent the efforts of the committee have focused on the entire region.
"We started that infrastructure two years ago," said Tara Green, the vice president and COO of the host committee. "When we transitioned from a bid committee to a host committee we put action teams in place to be the regional communication structure for this very purpose. You can't talk to everybody so we had to create organizations and committees that were used as communication tools for the region."
In Arlington, Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion structure is undergoing a face-lift of its own. Huge fences have been erected in a maze-like configuration that will move fans through a security screening into the stadium. The Super Bowl logo is being hung over the main entrance.
Organizers are hoping to host one of the largest crowds in Super Bowl history. Cowboys Stadium can hold at least 100,000 fans; capacity inside the stadium will be more than 93,000. It's uncertain if plaza tickets sold will push that number past 100,000.
"I think our goal from the very beginning in the bid process is to make this a regional effort," said Brett Daniels, vice president of corporate communications for Cowboys Stadium. "To bring the entire region together, knowing full well we're only going to get a certain number of people in that stadium on game day but to have the ability to reach out and touch many of the millions of people across North Texas."
Another effort that will help accomplish that goal is the league's NFL Experience, which is in its 19th year.
Starting on Jan. 27 at the Dallas Convention Center, the league will host an interactive theme park with games, displays, football clinics, autograph sessions and more.
"This is our way to get the word out that the game is coming here," said former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, one of several NFL players promoting the NFL Experience. "It's a major event and we want people who can't show up to the game or don't know this is happening. One thing you have to remember, people love football in Texas and as diverse as our area is this is a great way to get people into the game."
Events like these help to make the Super Bowl more than just a game. And pulling it off smoothly is something North Texas organizers want to make sure happens.
If they do, look for the game to return to North Texas, perhaps in five years, when the Super Bowl celebrates its 50th year.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.