Commentary

XLV hosts vow to do better ... next time

CEO Bill Lively: Committee celebrating its triumphs, learning from its mistakes

Updated: February 8, 2011, 12:46 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- The NFL has attempted to solve the fallout from the seating issues that plagued Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV on Sunday by offering the 400 affected fans tickets to Super Bowl XLVI, among other things.

In the middle of last week, the NFL had an idea that the 1,250 seats would not be ready in time for kickoff between Green Bay and Pittsburgh, but wanted to wait and see if it could complete a Hail Mary. Add in the troubles many fans had getting into the stadium and Sunday was not the sparkling Super Bowl debut many hoped to have.

A near-record crowd of 103,219 watched the Packers beat Pittsburgh 31-25, but the gaffes that arose Sunday after a week of wretched weather put a damper on much of the local celebration.

[+] EnlargeAtmosphere
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireNFL commissioner Roger Goodell praised North Texas for its Super Bowl effort. "I think they did an outstanding job," he said Monday.

"The attendance record was not the goal," NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said. "The goal was to use this great building in a way that showcased the NFL, showcased North Texas and showcased some great players that we have in the NFL. And if we can come up with a better installation plan for a future event, we'll do that."

The goal of Super Bowl XLV from Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, to the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee and officials from all across the region was to be part of some sort of unofficial Super Bowl rotation.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who does not have a vote in the process, said the game could return. New England's Robert Kraft and Washington's Daniel Snyder endorsed a return last week before the game was played.

"It's a membership vote, but I think they did an outstanding job," Goodell said. "It was a great event, and I'm sure that they'll be seeking another Super Bowl and I'm sure the ownership will look at that very seriously."

At his Dallas office Monday morning, host committee CEO and president Bill Lively noticed the sun and blue skies outside his window, perhaps wondering where that weather had been for most of last week.

"We're saddened by some of the ticket issues and some of the lines, but that is not what we do," Lively said. "We are affected by it because we care about it."

The NFL runs the game, while the host committee is responsible for the lead-up. Lively said the Super Bowl breakfast had the largest attendance in the history of the game. The Taste of the NFL for the first time will deliver more than $1 million to food banks nationwide. The Gala drew more than 3,000, which also was a record.

"So many big things happened and were celebrated in spite of all the crazy weather, that's my memory," Lively said. "The committee kept its commitments and did what it said. The game was a great game. The stadium looked great.

"The problems there are not insignificant problems, but I have to believe this: The stadium hosted the game so effectively, the revenue generation had to be tremendous for the owners. The television coverage I'm sure was very good. I'm sure the ratings will turn out to be good ratings … that it's going to have a bearing on when the game comes back."

Goodell said preliminary ratings indicate the game will be the most-watched show in the history of television.

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AP Photo/Mark HumphreyBill Lively said that he personally encountered fans from all over the country and 19 countries at Sunday's game. "The pervasive answer was, 'This has been fun. This stadium is just gangbusters,'" Lively said.

For the host committee, the next few months will be about filing reports of what worked well and what needs to be improved, an audit, liquidation of equipment and the dismantling of a staff that worked four years to put the game on.

In June, Lively will move over to his role as president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He and Roger Staubach, who was the chairman of the host committee, promised to work one Super Bowl. It is possible Troy Aikman could take over in Staubach's role as the leader for a future Super Bowl.

"I went around the corridors of the stadium, talking to everyone, 'Where you from?'" Lively said. "I did it before the game, and I did it after the game. I think I counted people from 19 nations and I found people from all over the country, not just Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

"They didn't know who I was. I took my badge off and stuffed it inside my coat. I asked them, 'How did you find the experience?' And to the person it was, 'The hospitality has been superb. It's been great.'

"Some complained of the lines and the cold of last week, but the pervasive answer was, 'This has been fun. This stadium is just gangbusters.' And it is. So the NFL will benefit from this and we'll learn from our host committee model and do it better the next time."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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