Wed February 9, 2011
Commentary: The North Texas Super Bowl XLV Experience
John L. Hanson, Jr. has been on radio row at more Super Bowls than most Americans get to see on TV. He is the host of KUT's In Black America and now lives in Mansfield, a suburb of Dallas. He offers this recap of his North Texas Super Bowl Experience:
What could go wrong, did go wrong. From the start, the plan to have Super Bowl XLV and its heavy calendar of related events seemed logistically challenged. Dallas and Fort Worth are separated by 30 miles, and with 134 municipalities across the region involved, the last thing they needed was an Alberta clipper.
These were not shining moments. The memories many of the visitors will take home from Super Bowl XLV will not be pleasant.
If it wasn’t slipping (driving and walking) on ice, it might have been the sight of wrecked cars on the freeway, the lack of taxis, heating system malfunctions, broken elevators, and non-professional hotel valets.
Throughout the ice and cold snap, I was surprised and shocked that I never saw plows (until later in the week) or other service vehicles. The area doesn’t use salt; patches of ice covered the roads. It took me two hours to drive from Grand Prairie to the media center in downtown Dallas on Thursday morning.
For 400 fans, the experience was nothing short of lawsuit-worthy. When they arrived at the stadium on game day, they were told that their $900 tickets (face value, that is — many paid way more than that as they obtained tickets on the secondary market) had been condemned and they would be forced to watch the game on monitors or in the standing-room-only sections of the "Dallas Palace."
On the bright side, however, the Super Bowl Breakfast, which features the announcement of the Bart Starr Award for outstanding character and leadership, was the largest ever. The Taste of the NFL also set an attendance and fundraising record with its $1 million-plus total for hunger charities. The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration concert in Fair Park had its largest audience ever. The NFL Players Choir was awesome.
For a brief blue-sky moment, it appeared that Super Bowl XLV's troubles were just a memory. Business boomed at the NFL Experience on Saturday, and Fort Worth's Sundance Square was finally packed with the crowds local officials had dreamed about all year.
What could go wrong, did go wrong. But on Sunday, with the weather - for the first time all week turning out better than the forecast, and the game - a nail-biter that came down to the final minute, we all forgot about what went wrong. And, along with 111 million people watching at home, we were engulfed by the spectacle – the most-watched television program in history.
John Hanson's radio re-cap of the Super Bowl will hit airwaves the second week in April. You can access the show here.