By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Surprise—he's the perfect man for the job.
"He is the most competitive person I know," Jones says. "He absolutely will not settle for the North Texas Super Bowl effort being anything short of the very best that there has ever been."
Cluck says, "If this thing doesn't work with Roger as chairman, then it's never going to work."
"I'm convinced this will be the biggest, best-run Super Bowl of all time. It's going to be absolutely the greatest thing to happen to North Texas in my lifetime. And none of it would be possible without Roger Staubach." —host committee President/CEO Bill Lively
Staubach enjoyed the luxury of Hall of Fame teammates during his 11-year career with the Cowboys. Tony Dorsett. Bob Lilly. Rayfield Wright. Bob Hayes. Randy White. Mel Renfro. Tom Landry. But these days, although XLV is attracting everyone from George W. Bush to Ross Perot Jr., his go-to guy is a mild-mannered, physically unimposing 66-year-old who played quarterback at Adamson High School "because I was the only one who could remember the plays."
"I thank God every day that Bill Lively is Bill Lively," Staubach says. "We'd all be lost without him."
Staubach, Aikman and Jones may be XLV's style, but it's Lively who for years has provided Dallas' substance.
"Put me in a room with those heavy hitters," Lively says, "and I redefine the word 'superfluous.'"
With a history of fund-raising at SMU and, most notably, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts—he raised $334 million, including 130 separate gifts of $1 million or more—Lively is the answer if your question is along the lines of "How the hell do I squeeze more blood from my economic crisis-challenged turnip?" On a mid-November afternoon, Lively is leaving XLV's headquarters offices in Turtle Creek (PlainsCapital is donating the space for two years) and driving his sleek, gray Lexus to the Four Seasons Club and Resort in Las Colinas to make yet another Super sales pitch, this time to the decision-makers at NASDAQ.
"I did this 1,159 times over eight and a half years with the Center for the Performing Arts," he says. "But the Super Bowl? It's a different entity. That was a tangible structure, something people could feel and touch and take a tour of. This is an event, with a football game as a catalyst. But it takes much the same kind of hard work. I'm driving about 1,700 miles a month. I've been to Fort Worth 41 times this year. And we're just getting started."
Lively went to the first Cowboys game at the Cotton Bowl in 1960, where, he says, he paid $1 for a ticket and watched in dismay as fans hurled ice at the halftime entertainment, Roy Rogers. For years at Texas Stadium, he was the director of the Cowboys Band. And he's always appreciated the power and panache of Staubach.
"Roger makes my job easier," he says. "But this job is still filled with rejection. You're crazy if you don't expect to hear the word 'no.' It's like baseball. If you hit on three out of 10, you're a major success."
On the heels of Jones building the country's biggest, best stadium, it's the XLV host committee's charge to not only fill it, but surround it and accessorize it with an unprecedented quantity and quality of star-studded, fan-friendly events. To do that—in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression—they need to raise $30 million to pay for security, transportation and game-related proceedings.
So far, so good. XLV has already secured more $1 million sponsors (11, including T. Boone Pickens, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Jones Lang LaSalle and The Texas Rangers) than any Super Bowl in history. Problem is, the committee recently endured a nine-month drought and will miss its initial goal of having 15 sponsors in place by 2010.
The North Texas event dwarfs anything the Super Bowl has ever seen. Last February in Tampa, 25 committee members worked with a $12 million budget. XLV, powered by America's fourth fastest-growing population, fifth-biggest media market and "everything is bigger in Texas" braggadocio, boasts 282 members and a budget almost three times larger.
"We're basically on pace," Lively says. "But I can't imagine trying to pull this off anywhere right now other than North Texas."
While the region's economy may help, its history of selfish, segregated isolationism will have to be melted. Lively and XLV aren't only asking for unprecedented money, they're requiring North Texas cities to work together on a project for the first time since DFW Airport was built in 1974.
"We're at warp speed, from 150 years of nothing to suddenly coming together as one big community," Lively says. "In that regard we're in virgin territory."
Despite the NFL retaining all revenue from the expected 93,000 tickets—a total approaching $100 million given the expected face value of $1,000 (sorry, no $29 Party Passes to this game)—Jones won't be guaranteed any profit other than international exposure for his stadium and team.
Budget, revenue and profit pale, however, in comparison with the estimated economic impact on North Texas of a staggering half a billion. Though the competing teams won't qualify for the game until late January 2011—no team has ever played in a Super Bowl in its own city—and the halftime musical act (Staubach jokes he wants to see old-schoolers The Lettermen) won't be announced for another 11 months, XLV activities officially kick off March 6 with Faith Hill's benefit concert in Fort Worth.