Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The National Football League does what it does best – makes more money

In what can only be termed a classic business move by the money making machine better known as the National Football League, the NFL awarded Super Bowl XLV, the 2011 game to the Dallas Cowboys and their new state-of-the art billion dollar stadium. When he spoke at the press conference that announced Dallas would host the game on February 6, 2011 Cowboys owner Jerry Jones never one to shy away from a microphone was ‘pleased’ to hear the news.

"This may be by that time the most visible Super Bowl we've ever had," said a jubilant Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose vision to build something bigger and better than any stadium in the NFL paid off in attracting the first Super Bowl to this area.

Once Phoenix was eliminated, Dallas claimed a fourth ballot victory over Indianapolis with the final vote total a surprisingly close 17-15. Dollars likely played a determining factor in the final vote by NFL owners. Currently the face value for Super Bowl tickets stands at $600 and $700. Four Super Bowls from now its likely Super Bowl XLV tickets will be priced at $900 and $1,000. Now factor in size of the Cowboys new stadium – 100,000 seats, 200 luxury boxes and you have what will be the biggest ticket generating revenue in Super Bowl history. Super Bowl XVL will generate somewhere between $25 million and $30 million in ticket revenues. Game, set, match.

"We'd all be a little naïve," Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach allowed after the vote, "to think the (disparate) revenues weren't a key to some of the (other owners)."

"We're going to work real hard to live up to the responsibility we have of winning this bid to make it the best Super Bowl that's taken place in 45 years," said Staubach, chairman of the bid committee. "We're thrilled about it."

In fact, very few Super Bowls have been held in open-air stadiums outside of the states of Florida, California or Arizona. Three have been played in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans and one at Rice Stadium in Houston. But that's about as far north as a Super Bowl has ventured without a dome stadium or geographical assurances of temperate weather.

"To put on a Super Bowl you have to have a world-class stadium," said Tara Green, director of sports marketing for the Dallas Convention and Business Bureau, who has been on loan to the North Texas bid committee, which by the way, suddenly becomes the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee.

But still, it doesn't hurt to have the largest seating capacity, either.

"Everyone has always told me, 'I wish we could get more fans in the Super Bowl,'" Jerry Jones said. "Everyone has always told me that," and went on to point out how those thoughts played into the plans when designing a stadium that could offer expanded seating for major events.

But the Cowboys owner also was quick to point out the now host committee and his organization has a responsibility to put on one of the best, if not the best Super Bowl event ever held. He speaks of the fan experience, and the committee estimates while there might be 120,000 attending the game, as many as 250,000 are expected to infiltrate the four-county area during the week of the game for all the surrounding activities.

"Numbers are important," Jones explained, then went on to quote the franchise's initial president, saying, "Tex Schramm told me a long time ago, the NFL can not be a studio game - I can almost quote him on this. He said, this, it has to have the pageantry of stadiums, throngs of people, that's the NFL, that's what we have."

Whether they are a stadium hosting a Super Bowl seats 75,000 or 100,000 the secondary ticket market is already looking forward to a larger than life Super Bowl XLV ticket.

Don Vaccaro, chief executive of the online broker firm Ticket, said supply and demand determine price.

"At least 30 to 40 percent of all tickets to the Super Bowl end up on the secondary market," he said. "That means there could be well over 30,000 tickets available."

Many of the tickets that end up for sale online are initially given to VIPs, corporate sponsors and advertisers of the NFL, individual franchises and the competing teams.

And what about the Cowboys new stadium, clearly as Jerry Jones is fond of saying “How Bout dem Cowboys” or in this case a stadium that might indeed set the standard in the evolution of modern day football places.

The new sports and entertainment venue, which will be located in Arlington, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, will become the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the country’s most-watched NFL team, beginning in 2009. The largest NFL stadium ever built is designed to enhance the international Cowboys brand with its modern progressive architecture while incorporating elements of the Texas Stadium Cowboys heritage such as the shape of the roof’s opening and the Ring of Honor.

The 2.3 million square-foot stadium will have an approximate capacity of 80,000 and the flexibility to accommodate up to 100,000 fans (an important factor in the awarding of Super Bowl XLV). The stadium features signature monumental arches, an expansive retractable roof, massive glass retractable end zone doors, a distinguishing canted glass wall, and the world’s largest center-hung video board.

“The challenge for us with this new stadium was to innovate, but at the same time never forget to acknowledge tradition, said Jerry Jones, owner and president, Dallas Cowboys. “This new stadium embodies the spirit of the Dallas Cowboys and that starts with the familiar ‘hole in the roof’. What we have designed is a building we believe is both architecturally significant and also reflects the emotion and competition that goes on inside.”

The stadium is designed by HKS Architects, ranked one of the top-five sport/stadium designers in the world.

“Our goal is to create a venue that lives up to and enhances the celebrated Dallas Cowboys brand,” said Bryan Trubey, principal designer, HKS Architects Sports & Entertainment Group.
“The new stadium palette of forms and materials create a modern and progressive architectural expression. The overall form of the stadium was developed to create a sense of power and motion. The simplicity of the form is key to its strength as a monumental building.”

Some of the key stadium design highlights include:

The stadium features two monumental arches, soaring 320 feet above the playing field, which support a retractable roof. As the longest single span roof structure in the world, each boxed arch is 35 feet wide by 17 feet deep. Weighing 3,255 tons each, these impressive structures span 1,290 feet in length. As one of the first components to be constructed, the arches will form a striking silhouette on the Arlington landscape as sunlight reflects against the metallic surface during the day and a tailored lighting system reflects the form at night.

Designed to be open or closed, depending on weather conditions, the expansive retractable roof is the largest of its kind in the world and measures approximately
661,000 square feet. When closed, the roof encompasses 104 million cubic feet of volume, making it the largest enclosed NFL stadium in the world. The retractable roof is designed specifically to emulate the current Texas Stadium opening which is recognized around the world and allow views inward and outward. Each panel can open or close in 12 minutes. The entire playing field can be seen from directly above.

The stadium features the largest retractable end zone doors in the world. Each has a five-leaf, clear, retractable opening measuring 120 feet high by 180 feet wide. The five 38-foot panels take only 18 minutes to open or close. By using clear glass for the door panels, spectators experience panoramic vistas from within the seating bowl and when circulating through the stadium concourses. Moreover, the operability provides air circulation during game-day and non-game-day events.

One of the most compelling architectural features of the stadium design is the canted glass exterior wall. The 86-foot high glass, curtain-wall surface slopes outwardly at a 14 degree angle to create a luminescent glow day or night. A fritted glass system transitions up the elevation to create a dynamic, ever-changing aesthetic depending on the time of day. At night, a series of internal lights gently wash the glass wall to create a glow across the façade.

Within the seating bowl, Cowboys fans will be provided with a one-of-a-kind feature unlike any other in the world, a center-hung video board. Hanging approximately 110 feet above the field from the roof structure, the innovative video center spans between the 20-yard lines and features four individual boards – two facing the sidelines and two facing the end zones. The sideline boards measure 180 feet wide by 50 feet tall while those facing the end zones measure 48 feet by 27 feet. All four boards are angled toward the stands for optimal viewing. The stunning combination of these boards will immerse spectators with video imagery, creating a premium on upper level seats and presenting the game in a way never before experienced.

The design includes 200 suites that have been decentralized and are in eight locations distributed across five separate levels of the stadium. The most unique will be the field-level sideline suites for up-close and personal viewing of the games.

Reaction from Dallas was predictable – a touchdown for a region where football and Godliness are often intertwined.

"It's a great day for the metroplex," said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth. "I have just one thing to say: How 'bout them Cowboys!"

A report in The Dallas Morning News served as an all too friendly reminder – he who takes that leap of faith is rewarded with the opportunity to host a Super Bowl. It is well worth remembering there was so much interest in where Jones would build the Cowboys new stadium. Unlike most sports franchises who in recent years have had to battle for taxpayer dollars – Jones leveraged one Dallas area county against another until he negotiated the best deal he could for the Cowboys.

But for Dallas lawmakers, reality set in courtesy of Rep. Terri Hodge. The Dallas Democrat slammed Mayor Laura Miller and former County Judge Margaret Keliher for being "shortsighted" and not reaching a deal for the stadium to be constructed in downtown Dallas.

"Did you know that the original place that the stadium was going to be built would have been downtown Dallas, my district?" she demanded as Rep. Paula Pierson, R-Arlington, basked in the glow of success, surrounded by other Tarrant County representatives. "And did you know that at the time, we had a mayor whose vision was shortsighted, along with our county judge, that we the city of Dallas lost this wonderful game?"

Ms. Miller and Ms. Keliher could not be reached by the Dallas Morning News for comment.

Ms. Pierson told Ms. Hodge that she was "pleased that it's Arlington, and I'm sorry for Dallas."

Ms. Hodge went on to congratulate her and the "rest of Tarrant County for being so smart." She added that she was "sure proud that the Dallas Cowboys will host the Super Bowl in Tarrant County."

Originally estimated to cost $650 million, the stadium's current construction cost is in excess of $1 billion, which will make it one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. To assist Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones in paying the construction costs of the new stadium, Arlington voters approved the increase of the city's sales tax by one-half of a percent, the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent, and car rental tax by 5 percent. The City of Arlington will provide $325 million in funding, and Jones will cover any cost overruns. Also, the NFL will provide the Cowboys with an additional $150 million, as per their policy for giving teams a certain lump sum of money for stadium finance.

Although the stadium has yet to receive a naming rights sponsor, in reference to Jones, many fans have taken to referring to the project as "Jerry World”

A nearly 300-foot-tall arch will span the length of the stadium dome, anchored to the ground at each end. The stadium also will have a retractable roof as previously announced, and doors will allow each end zone to be opened. When the design was officially unveiled on December 12, it showed that the roof would look exactly the same as Texas Stadium's roof, with its trademark hole. However, it would be covered by the retractable roof panel should it rain or if the heat conditions are unbearable.

A Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame is planned for the appropriately named Hall of Fame level. The drawings also include a site for a large sculpture northeast of the stadium, close to Randol Mill Road.

Excavation work at the stadium site began in May 2006 near Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Until it opens, the Cowboys will continue to play in Texas Stadium.

The Cowboys are slated to start playing at their new home in time for the 2009 NFL season. The Cotton Bowl moves from its current located at the Texas Fair Grounds (in the stadium named for and after the game) in 2010. And Tuesday, the National Football League awarded the biggest prize of them all to Jerry Jones, the right to host Super Bowl XLV – the first Super Bowl to ever be played in the Dallas area. Remember at the end of the day – its all about the dollars.

"The weeklong party will be as big as the region wants it to," said Brian Mayes, a spokesman for the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Bidding Committee. "In a football-crazed place like North Texas, this could be the biggest party the region has ever seen."

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: The Dallas Morning News, ESPN and Wikipedia

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