The folks in Indianapolis must have loved the events in North Texas over the last week. They have to be thinking: No matter how cold it gets here in February 2012, we’re bound to be an improvement over Dallas as a Super Bowl host city.
North Texas is being widely panned as a Super Bowl host, calling into question whether Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will get his wish to make his billion-dollar football palace a regular host of America’s biggest sporting event. Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has a good column today taking aim at the excesses of what she refers to as “Jerry World,” while Jarrett Bell of USA Today points out that Dallas made a lot of mistakes it will need to learn from if it’s ever going to host another Super Bowl.
I point out the reports from Jenkins and Bell because they’re particularly well done, but you’ve no doubt seen plenty of similar reports. At this point it would be easy to dismiss all of us in the media as whiny sports writers who don’t realize how lucky we are to get free trips to the Super Bowl. I would counter that we feel fortunate to have jobs that send us to the Super Bowl. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t challenge statements like Roger Goodell claiming that the North Texas “community has responded favorably” to the bad weather. That claim simply doesn’t hold up to the facts on the ground of streets and sidewalks that remained an icy mess for days after the Tuesday storm.
It bears repeating that this is not a complaint about the weather. Goodell is correct when he says that the host city can’t be blamed for a storm that affected most of the country. But he’s wrong when he says that the response to the weather was acceptable. It wasn’t, unless you think the correct response to an ice storm is, “Wait until the temperature gets above freezing.”
And even if the weather had been perfect, there were all kinds of other problems in North Texas over the last week. The broken hotel elevators. The false fire alarms. The bus drivers getting lost on the way to the stadium. Almost everyone who attended has a horror story to tell about getting stuck somewhere, getting lost somewhere, getting treated badly somewhere. Are all of those Dallas’s fault? Of course not. My horror story involved shoddy treatment by a security guard at the Dallas airport who works for a company called Flight Services & Systems. That same shoddy treatment could have happened at any airport staffed by Flight Services & Systems. And yet it seemed like you couldn’t talk to a soul in Dallas without hearing a similar story during Super Bowl week.
When we found out on Super Bowl Sunday that 400 ticket holders wouldn’t have seats for the big game, that felt like a fitting end to a bad week.
Jones will continue to claim that the last week was “an experience that will begin the process of bringing future Super Bowls to North Texas.” That’s fine. No one should expect anything different from the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
But for the the vast majority of visitors, this Super Bowl will be remembered as a great game coming at the end of a week that North Texas botched.