2011 Super Bowl goes to Cowboys' new stadium
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Seats matter.
The 2011 Super Bowl will be played at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Texas, where more than 100,000 fans will be able to watch the NFL's showpiece game.
NFL owners voted Tuesday for the North Texas group, which had Hall of Famer Roger Staubach lobbying on its behalf. The Cowboys' $1 billion stadium will open in 2009 and will have about 27,000 more seats than those in Indianapolis or Arizona — the other finalists.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the actual crowd ticketed at the game could reach 120,000, with fans being able to watch video screens at each end zone.
"Everyone has always told me, 'I wish we could get more fans in the Super Bowl. I wish we could do that,'" he said. "I think the fact we can have 100,000 people in the stadium is important because it includes that many more people in our biggest event in the NFL."
During the NFL's one-day spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell:
Met with owners to review medical standards for managing concussions. That means protecting anyone who anonymously reports doctors pressured to clear players or players pressured to play.
Said the league will work with the players' union, the NFL Retired Players Association, NFL Alumni Association, NFL Charities and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in an alliance to coordinate medical support for former players.
Briefed owners on paring down the time it takes to complete the first two rounds of the draft. Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney said he doesn't think teams need 15 minutes per pick in the first round.
Talked about player conduct, including situations involving Tennessee cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, Chicago defensive tackle Tank Johnson and Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick.
Indianapolis' bid for the 2011 Super Bowl featured the Colts' domed stadium opening in 2008 and was backed by a Top 10 list by David Letterman with a presentation by Colts coach Tony Dungy. Arizona hosts the 2008 Super Bowl on Feb. 3 and hosted the 1996 Super Bowl in Tempe.
Tampa, Fla., hosts in 2009, followed by a return to South Florida in 2010. Texas has hosted the Super Bowl twice — in Houston in 2004 in the Texans' new stadium and in 1974 at Rice Stadium.
Jones said the vote went to a fourth ballot, when the winner needs only a majority.
"I think every other aspect of our bid candidly was stronger than Dallas' but for the size of the stadium," said Fred Glass, president of Indianapolis' bid committee. "So based on that, that's the only thing I can think of that was the deciding piece."
Indianapolis also lost to Minneapolis in bidding for the 1992 game, and Colts president Bill Polian said owners told him and team owner Jim Irsay that Indy should bid again.
"I don't think those were idle words of consolation," Polian said. "They were true feelings. The committee did as good a job as anyone could possibly do. We just came up a little short."
Indianapolis came in with a strong bid, apparently overcoming winter weather with its downtown walkways. The committee also came in with $25 million already committed to help pay the costs associated with hosting the game.
Dungy helped tout the city's experience hosting big events like Final Fours, the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 with track president Tony George on hand. Letterman's Top 10 was capped by No. 1: His mom's tailgate party.
Staubach countered with Texas' long football history, especially his 2-2 record as a player in Super Bowls. Temperatures can be chilly in February in Arlington, but the Cowboys' new stadium will have a sliding roof that can protect fans.
"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."
Arizona didn't tap any big names in making its bid to become a part of the Super Bowl rotation like Miami, which hosted the game in February and is on tap for 2010. Mike Kennedy, chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl host committee, said visitors can enjoy the weather.
"Arizona is the best Super Bowl venue in the United States year in and year out," he said.
Unfortunately, Arizona's bid may have been hampered more by staff problems for the game in February and asking the NFL to pay for improvements to a stadium that opened last August.
Player conduct remains a big topic, especially in the town where Jones has been suspended for the 2007 season for off-field conduct Goodell deemed detrimental to the NFL last month.
Jones appealed that suspension in a hearing May 11. But a decision is not expected this week because Goodell said he had been busy prepping for the owners meeting.
As for Johnson, who met with Goodell last week after a two-month stint in jail for violating probation, the commissioner said: "I do not believe there's any information I'm still waiting on. I might be able to move on that faster."
Goodell said the league office was monitoring the case of Vick and the questions of dog fighting on property he owned until recently. Goodell said he is writing back to U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) who asked him to act swiftly in a letter to the commissioner.
"I do share his concern. On the other hand, I want to make sure we understand the facts before we make any decision on this and the acts are still unclear," Goodell said.