And to think, all this could have been staged smack dab in the middle of downtrodden Dallas.

From April to July 2004, Jones held talks about a new stadium with then-Mayor Laura Miller. They talked about a site in Fair Park and another around the farmers market. Ultimately, Miller scoffed at spending $325 million on a project into which Jones eventually dumped $800 million out of his own pocket.

Staubach is too noble to criticize, much less trash-talk city leaders, but he does roll his eyes at what could have been for Dallas.

Roger Staubach
Brandon Thibodeaux
Roger Staubach
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief told the Council of Mayors committee in November that Cowboys Stadium and the upcoming Super Bowl are giant wins for Arlington.
Brandon Thibodeaux
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief told the Council of Mayors committee in November that Cowboys Stadium and the upcoming Super Bowl are giant wins for Arlington.

"They could've pulled this Super Bowl off in a stadium built on the farmers market site," he says. "It would've been an economic driver that would've revitalized downtown. There are just so many positives that go along with the stadium...with the game...I just think by the time Dallas figured out what it could have, the ship had sailed."

Speaking at a Council of Mayors Committee meeting at Cowboys Stadium in mid-November, Moncrief said it's impossible to look at the stadium and the impending Super Bowl influx as anything but a gargantuan victory for Arlington.

"Dallas let Jerry get away based purely as a business move," he says. "But I can't say anything because we didn't have our bait in the water either. We might have been in the room during negotiations with the Cowboys, but weren't exactly on the table."

Don't look now, but everyone stands to benefit from XLV.

The game, for example, will touch four counties (Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin), 114 cities and 6.5 million citizens. It will require police officers from Roanoke, hotels in Sunnyvale and an airport in Garland. There are plans to rename Interstate 30 "Tom Landry Super Bowl Highway," to use the Union-Pacific railroad corridor for transportation and Lone Star Park for parking. In Tampa—again, much smaller scale—the Super Bowl generated 7,200 taxi rides, necessitated 5,200 limousines and produced 32 takeoffs an hour at the airport.

The game will be played in Arlington, but Fort Worth will host the AFC team and the NFC team will stay in Irving (Dallas is officially designated the NFC Host City because it's the location of the NFC Fan Party). The international media center will be the Sheraton Dallas, the NFL Fan Experience will take up the Dallas Convention Center, and we haven't even begun to touch on the countless, colossal parties thrown by Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Playboy and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

But the biggest winner may be North Texas' image, which, according to Olympic gold medalist and host committee ambassador Michael Johnson, could be finally, shall we say, modernized. Super Bowls, remember, are where stereotypes go to die. Or at least receive extreme makeovers.

Not that there's anything wrong with horses and oil derricks and muckraking millionaires named J.R. and, well, cowboys. Texas, for better or for worse, will always be associated as much with cattle drives as winning drives.

But with the arrival of Super Bowl XLV comes the chance for the metroplex to not only soften well-worn stereotypes, but also sharpen its worldwide image as a progressive, modern area highlighted with more technology than tumbleweeds, more global headquarters than 10-gallon hats.

"It's amazing what a lot of the world thinks about North Texas," Johnson says. "Trust me, the TV show Dallas is still huge is Europe. Still. So many people see us as oil wells and cowboy hats, riding horses to work. I'm not saying there's not a certain charm to that, and it's definitely a part of our culture. But we're so much more than that. It's a progressive, vibrant place with cutting-edge companies and new urbanism. It'll be nice to be able to put that part on display for the world to see for a change."

To accomplish that radical reconstruction, Lively says, it's imperative that XLV include all surrounding cities, towns and cultures in the process.

"This regional concept can't just be lip service," he says. "It can't be a charade. So far we're getting about 88 percent attendance at our committee meetings, and all the mayors are on board for a common goal. It genuinely warms my heart."

For having let the Cowboys walk twice in its history—to Irving in 1971 and to Arlington in 2004—Dallas is getting more than its fair share.

"Super Bowl XLV is proof of what the cities in this region can do when we pull together for a common goal," Mayor Tom Leppert says. "Not only will it bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to North Texas, but the game will also provide an unsurpassed showcase for the region and everything going on here. We are confident this will not only be the best Super Bowl game to date, but the first of many that will be held in North Texas."

Adds Moncrief, "We do this right, we set the template for how to work together in the future, and you can see not only multiple Super Bowls here but, at some point down the road, maybe even the Olympics."

After a champion lifts a trophy at Miami's Land Shark Stadium on February 7 and the confetti stops raining down on the field, Super Bowl XLV in North Texas will officially be "on the clock." As if his legacy needed a boost, Staubach is ready for one last perfect two-minute drill spanning 12 months.

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