On the (Icy) Ground at Super Bowl XLV
Over the past week anyone watching TV or surfing the Internet has been consumed by images of widespread protests and unrest in Egypt and by the equally widespread blizzard here at home. For the first time in a long time, the Super Bowl is (almost) taking a backseat to more meaningful global events. But for diehard Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers fans and the rest of us hardy souls braving the frigid conditions in North Texas, there are an abundance of solid Super Bowl storylines to follow. From the economic impact on North Texas to the more than 100 official parties being thrown in the area, here's a look at what's going on in and around Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
1. Economic Impact on the North Texas Region
Everything's bigger in Texas, and the economic impact from Super Bowl XLV is no exception to the rule. According to a report commissioned by the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee, the big game will generate $611 million in economic impact for the region. The game is projected to bring almost 150,000 visitors from outside the state, with only 9 percent of tickets going to Dallas-area residents. The NFL alone booked 24,000 hotel rooms, with 130 corporate sponsors and advertisers expected to wine and dine their top clients. Seven hundred private jets will fly into regional airports.
According to Bill Lively, who heads the Super Bowl Host Committee, the North Texas region is the biggest ever to host a Super Bowl, stretching over 13 cities and four counties. On top of its $40 million operating budget, the host committee has lassoed 10,150 volunteers.
The NFL has reportedly issued in the neighborhood of 5,500 media credentials, the most ever. In nearby Fort Worth, ESPN is headquartered in Sundance Square; its sprawling set there will be the mainstay for more than 80 hours of planned programming. More than 150 radio stations from around the globe will be set up on "Radio Row" at media headquarters in downtown Dallas, and the BBC is even planning a two-hour documentary on all the regional goings-on, to help Britain prepare to host the Summer Olympics better next year.
While the Super Bowl will be a big boost to local businesses, some economists debate the legitimacy of economic impact studies. Figures from last year's Super Bowl/Pro Bowl combination in Miami ranged from $150 million to $500 million. Regardless, with Dallas being less of a February vacation destination than Miami, the year-over-year increase in tourism dollars is welcome.
"I believe that Super Bowl XLV will be a new standard against which all others are judged," says Frank Supovitz, the NFL's senior vice-president for events.
2. The Venue: Cowboys Stadium
Jerry Jones' Cowboys Stadium no longer is the newest or most expensive stadium in the NFL. Both distinctions go to the New Meadowlands Stadium. And at a capacity of 80,000, Cowboys Stadium is far from the biggest in the NFL—FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., has 11,000 more seats. Nonetheless, what the stadium "lacks" in price tag and size, it makes up in prestige. With its cutting-edge design and famous 72-ft. center-hung video board, Cowboys Stadium has solidified its status as the preeminent facility in American sports—and a peerless host of America's premier sporting event.
Cowboys Stadium was designed and built to host one the largest celebrations in the world: Sunday's Super Bowl XLV. The 3 million-sq.-ft. sports and entertainment venue in Arlington—designed by HKS Sports & Entertainment Group—is the largest NFL venue ever built and boasts the most spectacular column-free room in the world.
The stadium has already proven to be a significant economic force for North Texas as the host for concerts, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, World Championship Boxing, soccer's Gold Cup, the NBA All-Star Game, and more. As the venue prepares to host Super Bowl XLV, it has already shown that the home of the Dallas Cowboys is an attraction for the world to experience.
"The open plazas, end-zone decks, and operable walls provide flexibility for the Super Bowl," says Bryan Trubey, principal designer at HKS. "The entire venue and site are designed to host destination events of all types for North Texas and the world. To host Super Bowl fans, temporary fixed seating will be added throughout the seating bowl, including the end-zone platforms and open concourses."
For the Super Bowl, seating will be provided at six end-zone platforms. With stunning views of the playing field as well as of the exterior plazas, the platforms offer some of the most distinctive and valuable viewing elevations in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys' popular standing-room-only admissions policy for fans will be extended to Super Bowl XLV as well (although the $1,500 tickets are considerably more than the $25 price for regular season games), and additional standing-room-only tickets will be sold for a temporary outdoor plaza adjacent to the stadium's east Game Day Fan Plaza. There, for $300, Dallas Cowboys season-ticket holders and other fortunate fans will be able to soak up the atmosphere and watch the game on outdoor video screens, all about a football field's length away from the actual contest.
If that's still too steep for you, the Cowboys and the NFL are also conducting stadium Super Bowl tours that give even more fans a taste of the whole Super Bowl experience. Tour tickets are $35 to $40 per person; tours will run through Feb. 10.
Parking's always a premium around the Big Game, but Super Bowl XLV may well be setting records in that area as well. For a mere $990, you can park directly across the street from the stadium—at a Jack in the Box restaurant. And we just have to ask: Do you get fries with that?
3. The Parties
No Super Bowl week would be complete without parties—and we're not talking about the one at your neighbor's with chips and a seven-layer dip.
After two years bowing to the recession and a government-led crackdown on corporate hospitality, Super Bowl parties are back in Dallas with a vengeance. More than 100 official and unofficial Super Bowl parties will be scattered across 40 Dallas locations. The events range from the NFL Commissioner's Ball to fundraising parties for charities of choice, hosted by such luminaries as Adrian Peterson, Lil' Wayne, and Hilary Swank.
The NFLPA, perhaps as a show of strength in the face of escalating collective bargaining talks, is holding events over the span of five days rather than its traditional two Super Bowl parties. Sponsors such as Reebok, Nike (NKE), and EA Sports (ERTS) have been secured to cover the cost of the events, as well as bring in revenue for the players' union.
When he's not busy drawing $25,000 fines for yelling at refs and bashing Commissioner David Stern, NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban presides over a film production company, a movie theater chain, and cable TV net HDNet. On Saturday night, Cuban and business partner Todd Wagner are hosting a tented private bash downtown featuring Usher, celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson, and Hollywood types who include the stars of HBO's Entourage (Cuban had a cameo on the show last season).
No stranger to either controversy or cameos, longtime NFL agent Leigh Steinberg (think "Jerry Maguire") is hosting what his agency is calling his 25th, and final, Super Bowl party on Saturday. Like the NFL draft itself, the Steinberg bash will stretch over 12 hours; 3,000 to 4,000 attendees are expected.
Sports media entities also throw A-list parties. After a two-year hiatus, Sports Illustrated is back, hosting a Friday night bash for 3,000 (at $3,500 per ticket) that will feature Super Bowl halftime performers the Black Eyed Peas and SI swimsuit models—sponsors include such familiar magazine advertisers as Under Armour (UA), Nivea, and Bacardi. ESPN's events at the River Ranch in Fort Worth include a private party for 2,000 on Friday night and a free public event on Saturday, both featuring Kid Rock. And despite the frigid temps, DirecTV (DTV) will hold the 7th incarnation of its Celebrity Beach Bowl. (Let's hope the participating celebs remember to pack sweatshirts to go with the bikinis and board shorts they normally sport on the faux beach.)
One of the hottest parties at the Super Bowl each year is Maxim magazine's annual bash, and the North Texas event is sure not to disappoint. Now in its 11th year, the Maxim Party, powered by Motorola Xoom, is an invite-only event with 1,500 partygoers expected to descend on the Centennial Building at Fair Park in Dallas on Saturday night. Patrón Tequila returns for the fourth year in a row as the exclusive spirits of the party and will have a unique red carpet presence featuring Maxim's 2010 Hometown Hotties winner, Melanie Iglesias. In keeping with tradition, Patrón Tequila has created a signature cocktail for the event, the Big Tex Margarita, made with agave-flavored cotton candy and will be served from a custom-built, cotton-candy-themed bar. In keeping with the location—the largest state fairgrounds in the U.S.—the décor and party attractions will also include Virgin Gaming's $25,000 EA Online Tournament inside a custom-built gaming lounge, traditional midway games, bumper cars, and a Ferris wheel.
Traditionally a celebrity magnet, the expected 2011 guest list includes ESPN's Erin Andrews, Michael Phelps, Mark Sanchez, Mario Williams, NBA legend Pat Riley, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and reality TV stars Gretchen Rossi (Real Housewives of Orange County) and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino (Jersey Shore).
While Maxim won't disclose the costs of producing the annual Super Bowl party and other Maxim events, Chief Revenue Officer Ben Madden was clear on the goal. "In terms of sponsorship and advertising revenue, the Maxim Party drives millions annually," Madden says. "This year we're thrilled to have a title sponsor for the event for the first time, Motorola Xoom, and other key sponsors, including AOL and Jeep. Maxim events are all about bringing the brand to life, and subscribers and readers are drawn to them for just that reason—that's why this year we've extended the party with three satellite events in Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, and San Diego. You can't put a price on the half-billion media impressions the Maxim Party drives.
"The Maxim Party, powered by Motorola Xoom, epitomizes this brand: celebrities, athletes, industry VIPs, and media moguls all interacting with the seamless integration of our sponsors' products and messaging," Madden concluded. "What's made Maxim powerful from the very start is that we are completely focused on our readers, their lives, dreams, and ambitions."
Rick Horrow is a leading expert in the business of sports. As chief executive of Horrow Sports Ventures, he has been the architect of 103 deals worth more than $13 billion in sports and urban infrastructure projects. He is also the sports business analyst for CNN, Fox Sports, and the Fox Business Channel. Karla Swatek is vice-president of Horrow Sports Ventures and co-author of Beyond the Box Score: An Insider's Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports (February 2010).