Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Will Dallas Ever Get Another Super Bowl?

Maybe I should say north Texas. But I'll call it the Dallas Super Bowl because that's the way the rest of the country views it and it's the rest of the country that's going to make the decision. So, will Dallas ever get another Super Bowl? The answer is yes. Not because Dallas is perfect. It isn't. It's because all cities are flawed. Patrick Kennedy identifies three characteristics the NFL looks for in picking a Super Bowl city:

  1. Lively, interesting city
  2. Warm weather in February
  3. Big, kickass stadium

He then runs through the usual list of Super Bowl cities and points out how each one comes up short in one or more of these requirements (Indianapolis - 2012 - and East Rutherford, NJ - 2014 - obviously fail requirement #2). North Texas is neither significantly better nor worse than other cities in this regard. In no way are we disqualified. We'll get more Super Bowls, maybe not as soon as we'd like or as often as we'd like, but we'll get them.

After the jump, how Patrick Kennedy wants the Super Bowl experience to be simultaneously broader and smaller. Is he trying to have his cake and eat it, too? Maybe a little.

Kennedy wants the Super Bowl experience broader in that he says the "year-long, roaming international party for vapid celebrities ... is not the real Dallas I know. It isn't Oak Cliff. It isn't Deep Ellum. Nor Fair Park. It isn't Lakewood or Little Forest Hills or Oak Lawn or West Dallas or the Design District."

Kennedy wants the Super Bowl experience smaller in that he says that "smearing the entire thing across 60 square miles ... dissipates the energy across too much territory to too many disconnected, isolated places."

Let's face it. That "big, kickass stadium" is in Arlington. So, any Super Bowl in north Texas needs to include Arlington. Let's also face the fact that Arlington is not a "lively, interesting city" so any Super Bowl in north Texas also needs to include Dallas or Fort Worth or both. Cowboys Stadium is in Tarrant County, so that means Fort Worth. Dallas is the bigger city, so that means Dallas. So, any Super Bowl in north Texas inevitably means "smearing" the experience across 60 square miles.

Where does that leave us? Right where we knew we were before Super Bowl week ever happened -- with a big, sprawling metroplex (excuse the word, but it captures the monstrosity of our region better than the term "north Texas" does.) It's the size and diversity of experiences here that adds up to the "lively, interesting city" the NFL demands. Other cities can deliver that experience in a more compact form, but we can't and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Instead, we need to concentrate on building a better transportation system to tie those far-flung outposts together and make them more accessible when you finally get there. That means light rail, streetcars, highways and more complete streets, including bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets. Get the transportation system right and entrepreneurs will make sure there are interesting dining, shopping and entertainment destinations worth going to. Get started on that and the NFL will have confidence to award future Super Bowls to north Texas. And all of us will enjoy the next one more than the last.

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