An exciting Super Bowl game couldn't rescue North Texas from a disastrous Super Bowl week.
Packers 31, Steelers 25, North Texas 0.
This pains me to write because I know a lot of good people did a lot of great work in preparing for Super Bowl XLV coming to the metroplex. But as the thousands of visitors left our towns in the wake of last Sunday's ultimate NFL game, they packed this perception: Everything is bigger in Texas. Even Super Bowl disasters.
The big week was so littered with fumbles and fuck-ups that we even forgot that our beloved Dallas Cowboys weren't playing as we once all expected. No way around it, Super Bowl XLV in our backyard was a failure.
Where to start? Oh yeah. How about, right off the bat, getting kicked in the ice.
Somehow Old Man Winter got an all-access pass to XLV. And I know, three years of planning and praying can't stop a bizarre ice storm, followed by an uncharacteristic snow dump. But it wasn't the action, it was the paltry reaction.
Snapshot of XLV: After watching media members gingerly tip-toeing on the ice outside the NFL Media Center—the downtown Sheraton—for days, the help came too little, too late. Seriously, the ice storm arrived late Monday night. For the next four days dangerously slippery sidewalks outside the hotel made us all navigate the treacherous terrain by walking in tiny disjointed steps not unlike Tim Conway's old man character on the old Carol Burnett Show. Then, last Saturday afternoon, with maintenance crews breaking down tables and packing up boxes and with the temperature finally over 32 after 103 consecutive sub-freezing hours (our longest stretch since 1997), guess who showed up? Yep. Street crews that began shoveling snow.
Sorry. That barn door had long been ajar. And those horses forever ago scattered. I've never heard so many folks utter the term "rock salt" preceded by so many colorful adjectives.
Speaking of the weather, also a horrible week for our forecasting gurus. They didn't foresee the initial storm's strength (something about not accounting for all the Gulf of Mexico moisture) and then on Super Sunday, they missed temperatures—predicted to stay in the 30s, it topped out in the 50s—by a whopping 20 degrees.
North Texas Super Bowl XLV organizers knew that transportation would be a key to their event's success. Not a lot they can do about icy roads, a situation exacerbated by temporary closures of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and DART and, yikes, a taxi drivers' strike. I was told by media folks that two-hour waits for cabs were not uncommon, reducing hotel lobbies from exotic launching pads to drab destinations. Others in downtown hotels—in the midst of sub-zero wind chills—lost power and/or heat while caught in the middle of rolling blackouts throughout the area.
And that cutesy outdoor experience in Fort Worth's Sundance Square? By Thursday ESPN radio had moved indoors to Dallas for a warm, cozy spot along radio row. At least we were spared the locusts.
Tweeted veteran NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated about the ramp-up to XLV: "debacle."
And just when we thought the worst was over, somebody almost got killed. Last Friday as the ice began to melt, large chunks fell from the roof of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and landed...on people. Six were injured, the most severe a photographer for Getty Images who suffered a broken shoulder and immediately flew home to Washington, D.C., for surgery. Again, if you're going to host America's biggest sporting event and you have three years to plan, don't you think of everything and then triple-check it twice?
Ice on the roof shouldn't have surprised anyone. A year ago on an early February weekend it snowed during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Dallas and Arlington. So yeah, it can and does happen. Also, wasn't it just a month or so ago that the Minneapolis Metrodome's roof caved in under the weight of a snowstorm? How this could be excused as an unpredictable act of Mother Nature is disingenuous. And, yes, the sight of firemen literally trying to chip ice off the stadium roof after the injuries—using a 2-by-4, no less—magnifies the image of us all being country bumpkins. And I almost forgot, the roof leaked on a stadium concourse during the game.
The weather even affected our Super Bowl parties and canceled some events. Rapper Ludacris and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's dedication of a new football facility in Pleasant Grove was postponed three times. An ice-covered tent collapsed at the Cotton Bowl, canceling a concert. And then there was The Event, a concert featuring Prince and Erykah Badu. Tickets were sold for $1,500 a pop to the party, which was originally scheduled under a tent on Reunion Arena's old site, then moved to Addison's Hotel Intercontinental and then ultimately canceled when Prince simply failed to show up. Again, that one isn't the fault of anyone officially connected with XLV. It just looks bad, ya know?
As does Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway inexplicably awarding a key to our city to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and notorious dog killer Michael Vick. If everything else hadn't fallen apart, this would be making bigger headlines. So I guess there is a silver lining.
Despite Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spending $1,000 at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar in Fort Worth earlier in Super Bowl week, the blanket of ice and snow that snarled transportation is certain to dent a predicted economic impact of more than $500 million. And during last Saturday's Hall of Fame induction announcement, even Cowboy Charles Haley was snubbed. Nothing, it seemed, went right. But surely the crowning jewel—Cowboys Stadium—would rebound from almost killing a guy to be a spectacular host that would shake the Etch A Sketch of a horrible week.
In a desperate attempt to appease owner Jerry Jones and set a Super Bowl attendance record, the NFL—let's make that clear, the league controls everything about the stadium on Super Sunday—sold tickets to stand outside and crammed extra seats inside. Problem: Just before kickoff, 1,250 of those seats were deemed unsafe, forcing the NFL to find other spots for its patrons. Some were standing behind the Steelers' bench. Some were jammed in the media seating. And some were just not seated, offered an apology and triple the price of the $800 ticket to compensate them for their loss. But what about the flight to Dallas? The lodging? The once-in-a-lifetime experience?
"We regret the situation and inconvenience that it may have caused," the NFL said in a statement. "We will conduct a full review of this matter."
Outside it wasn't much better as ticket-holders waited hours in security lines that were condensed and overcrowded because three gates were still closed out of fear of falling ice. At one point, a group of impatient fans began shouting "Jerry Jones sucks!"
Even worse, Jones and the NFL didn't get their precious record, falling 766 short of the mark set at The Rose Bowl in 1980. Ouch.
Christina Aguilera flubbed the National Anthem and a section of lights stopped working on The Black Eyed Peas stage during halftime and the hated Packers hoisted a trophy on the Cowboys' home field and now there's an NFL lockout looming.
I hope you enjoyed your Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it may not be coming back.
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