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Dallas lessons should strengthen Super Bowl in Indy

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DALLAS—There’s a lot Indianapolis can learn from the folks here in Dallas about hosting a Super Bowl.

One of the biggest lessons: Plans are important, but they’re not everything.

Just ask organizers of Sunday’s game, who had to deal with about 400 fans that had tickets to the game but no seats because of an auxiliary seating area that did not pass muster. Spectators who did get in, meanwhile, found themselves waiting in super-sized lines for everything from concessions to rest rooms.

And all that was on top of a week of snow and ice that complicated travel, slowed visitor spending and turned critics’ eyes to the 2012 event scheduled for Indianapolis—900 miles north.

“The takeaway is, things just don’t go as planned,” said local host committee Chairman Mark Miles, who was in Dallas for the game. “We have to deal with things as they happen. Communication is key to let everyone in critical roles know what is happening almost real-time.”

Indianapolis’ host committee had members embedded in every aspect of Dallas’ game-day initiative, and Miles said that information would be processed in the coming week so it can be put to use.

The seating problems at Cowboys Stadium certainly caught their attention. Lucas Oil Stadium Director Mike Fox already is working closely with the National Football League to make sure the auxiliary seating in Indianapolis goes in without a glitch. Both stadiums were designed by Dallas-based HKS Sports & Entertainment Group.

Organizers also have to address an influx of vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the stadium on game day—something the local committee has said will be mitigated by Indianapolis’ compact, walkable downtown.

Then, of course, there’s dealing with whatever Mother Nature delivers.

The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee will announce in two weeks how it plans “to be prepared for a full range of weather contingencies,” for the Super Bowl run-up next February, Miles said.

“We will be taking this more seriously than the city has ever had to for any weather contingency,” he said. “We’re going to be taking a little broader perspective. It’s not just shoveling sidewalks.”

“Senior leadership” from within city, state and host committee ranks will be working together to deal with weather, he said.
 
Weather—and how officials dealt with it—continued to be the most pressing issue among area merchants in the Dallas area.

Before a furious winter storm racked North Texas last week, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP estimated that Dallas would ring up the biggest direct spending in the Super Bowl’s 45-year history.

The previous record was set during the pre-recession 2007 Super Bowl, which pitted the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears in Miami.

During that Super Sunday and the week leading up to it, the consulting firm calculated that visitors pumped $195 million into the greater Miami economy. When economists use spending multipliers—factoring in the money spent by people and companies in the community where visitors dumped cash—total economic impact estimates hit nearly $400 million.

This year, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that direct visitor spending would exceed $200 million for the first time in Super Bowl history.

But the inability of the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington to deal with snow and ice hurt. PricewaterhouseCoopers is in the process of re-evaluating, but most merchants say sales are up to 20 percent lower than expected.

Area stores and malls opened late and closed early Tuesday and Wednesday due to foul weather. Merchants said business was exceedingly slow those days and picked up only slightly Thursday before ramping up Friday and Saturday.

Even on Saturday, sidewalks in downtown Dallas were still covered with ice, hampering pedestrians from reaching restaurants and retail outlets.

Expectations were fueled by last year’s NBA All-Star weekend held in Dallas, when retail sales at area malls were up 40 percent to 50 percent, said Angie Free, Galleria Dallas Mall’s general manager.

But this year’s Super Bowl didn’t even come close, said Suzanne Campbell, manager of Pinto Ranch, an upscale western wear store in NorthPark Mall.

“It was very slow the first part of the week,” Campbell said. “But we’ve seen business pick up the last part of the week. We just wish the fans were staying until next Wednesday.”

Vendors at the stadium Sunday seemed to be doing better.

Business was off “maybe 5 percent” from previous Super Bowls, said Rick Arndt, who was selling a variety of Packers and Steelers gear outside Cowboys Stadium.

“But there’s still time for it to get better,” Arndt said 90 minutes before kick-off.

National Football League officials said they expected to sell $5 million worth of concession items and Super Bowl memorabilia inside the stadium on game day. The NFL Pro Shop was wall-to-wall fans more than two hours before the game.

Sports business experts estimated that vendors outside the stadium would sell another $3 million to $5 million worth of goods on game day.

That number could be bigger in a downtown setting like Indianapolis, sports business experts said, due to the ability of more authorized and unauthorized vendors to seek out locations in an urban setting to profit from the big game.

“The NFL tries to control it, but in a setting like New Orleans, or even Detroit, the vendors came out of the woodwork,” Arndt said. “I’d expect the same thing in Indianapolis.”

The hit to this year’s economic impact was not solely blamed on the weather. Part of it was attributed to the two small-market teams—Pittsburgh and Green Bay—that made the game, said Richard Sheehan, a University of Notre Dame economist and an author who has written books on sports business.

Many Dallas-area merchants were salivating over the possibility of a New York vs. Chicago Super Bowl.

“The big markets are likely to bring more wealthy people,” Sheehan said. “That’s simply because they have more wealthy people in those markets to draw on.”

The Super Bowl in general brings in a number of big spenders. Several Dallas retail stores ordered special lines of high-priced goods just for the Super Bowl, including one that brought in thigh-high python-skin boots selling for $5,549 and another that brought in Jimmy Choo handbags selling for $4,995.

Retailers told the Dallas Morning News those items weren’t flying off the shelves nearly as quickly as expected.

Arndt said different fan bases have different spending habits.

“New York and Chicago fan bases are known to spend their cash,” Arndt said.

Indianapolis Colts fans?

“They’re historically frugal,” Arndt said. “I know the fans there [in Indianapolis] won’t want to hear this, but the Colts making the Super Bowl next year in Indianapolis is about the worst thing economically that could happen to the city. First, they won’t bring in the travel dollars, and they just don’t spend like other markets.

“Last year, Saints fans outspent them two [dollars] to one,” Arndt added.

So why was the 2007 spend so big?

“First, having the Super Bowl in Miami just brings in more high-rollers,” Arndt said. “Corporate spending hadn’t tanked yet, and the Chicago fans made up for the fans from Indianapolis.”

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  • Indy
    I lived in Dallas for 10 years and now live in Indy. Actually, Dallas gets more ice storms than Indy...mostly snow in Indy. However, Indy was effective in dealing with 3 inches of ice/sleet last Tuesday. Yeah, the schools closed 4 days because of lawyers. Indy's downtown businesses had ice chipped off the sidewalks in a day (and it will be quicker when the SB is here). Dallas and Miami Super Bowls are spread out over too many miles to take in the whole experience. When the weather hit N. Texas it was impossible to travel between the spreadout events. National sports writers and broadcasters write/talk about Indy's downtown being compact, and therefore conducive, for big events (NCAA Final 4s, 500 and BY400). Next to New Orleans, Indy is the easiest & best place according to these sports writers/broadcasters. Bring on SB 46!!!
  • Indy hosting
    Indy has hosted early round NCAA Basketball Tournament games, NCAA Basketball Final Fours, Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament, Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and the Pan-Am Games way back. The Super Bowl Committee has a great list of resources to assist if needed. Between that and what they learned in Dallas there shouldn't be any excuse if things don't go as planned.
  • Response to Michael
    Spot on assessment about Indy wanting to be a "southern city". Can't for the life of me figure out why, though.
  • It Is Just A Football Game
    â??We will be taking this more seriously than the city has ever had to for any weather contingency,â??

    Yep, the Super Bowl is more important to the movers and shakers than are Indianapolis/ citizens.
  • Ice storms are not freaks of nature Dallas, they seem to happen at least every ten years. Dallas did not use salt, and were widely panned for it. Dallas should have had salt reserves ready in case. Sand does little to get rid of ice.

    streets in indy were in good shape within 24 hrs of the storm. schools were closed.because school districts refused to use....wait for it.....salt.

    indy could get a major snowfall before the game and have it cleared quickly because we have knowledge. experience and a compact area to clear.

    I like how 50 degrees was considered balmy for a "warm weather" site. Indy will do well because we are planning worst case scenario.
  • Not snow but ice
    I've lived in both Dallas and Indy. I love Indy and would welcome the chance to return. That being said, the happenings in North Texas last week was a fluke. Firstly, I see people mentioning the snow wrecking havok. But it wasn't caused by snow really. It was the two inches of ice, 100 + hours of consecutive sub freezing temperatures, and 6 more inches of snow to fall on top of that combined. Part of the same storm that caused havoc in the mid-west, specifically Chicago. North Texas was as prepared as could be, calling in ahead of time hundreds of extra sand/salt trucks and even plows...which you won't find here. The Metroplex consists of hundreds of booming suburbs in a 100 mile radius. There was no way to prepare for the freak of nature that occured, as you would have to have thousands of trucks hit every major highway. This kind of weather does not happen in the area. It would be similar to Indy getting 22 consecutive days of 100+ weather in the summer. Something that Indy isn't accustomed to. There are other issues that made the SuperBowl embarrassing for North Texas, but you can't blame the bad timing of the worst storm in 20 years, and their first EVER hard freeze in history. True, they did not know how to cope with it all. I actually feel bad for them,
  • PLANNING?
    "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Dwight Eisenhower
  • Snow/Ice Handling Ability
    True, the handling of last week's storm left something to be desired from the standpoint of our schools and side streets, but no Super Bowl visitors will be attending classes or taking neighborhood sides streets.

    I was downtown on Monday night for a Pacers game and while it was a bit icy and slower going on the roads, it was nothing that wasn't handled appropriately. At no time did I feel I was going to be unable to get home from DT.
  • Time for Indy to shine
    We have a unique opportuity here now that the Dallas superbowl was such a failure in so many ways. We will have the national media here to show off our ability to handle the event and they will report on all aspects they come in touch with. It is imperative we showcase our great city in all aspects from accessibility to cleanliness to hospitality in premiere fashion. This one week in the year can build an invaluable good public relations image to our city and bring in new businesses, new travel revenue, and gain national aclaim.
  • Indy deals with snow...
    Yeah, Indy deals with snow every year. But it doesn't mean they deal with it well. Indy thinks that we are somehow in the South and is always surprised at ice and snow. Last week was a warning - 4 days out of school? Seriously? This city has a lot of learning to do about snow and dealing with Mother Nature.
  • ok?
    Just asked the kids that missed 4 days of school last week. I would not assume that we've figured it out just yet.
  • Indy
    Unlike Dallas, Indy deals with snow every year so it shouldn't be too much more of a problem then usual.

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