The Super Bowl, and everything that surrounds it, has been designed for maximum entertainment benefit, and for maximum profit benefit for everything that touches it. It’s not really built for the typical NFL fan of modest means who must plan ahead and save up in order to be able to experience actually going to the game and watching it live, though they are the backbone of the NFL’s popularity and support. Ultimately, only a small group of any individual franchise’s fans can attend, due to the exhorbatant cost of a seat in the stadium, travel to and from the host city, and the grossly inflated cost of hotel rooms, food, taxis and rental cars, and just about everything else needed to take in the experience.
Living in Houston for the past 16 years, the only brush we’ve had with the Super Bowl was when it came to town a few years ago. We got a taste, then, of what it might be like for someone attempting to come there to watch the game from one of the cities lucky enough to have their team make it. Judging from the increases in hotel rates, and the lines that formed for tables in restaurants, along with “special menus” and special prices to match, I’d guess you’d probably have to count on spending three to four times as much for a three day weekend in the city than you would have paid on any other January weekend. We heard that golf courses were booked solid weeks in advance, and were charging five times as much for a round of golf as they would normally get.
So, for the relatively small number of typical football fans who are able to save up and enjoy the experience, the host city, and all those who are going to receive a nice fat paycheck for providing services, should probably work hard to make it a good experience. But from the reports now coming from both Green Bay and Pittsburgh fans who made the trip to Dallas to enjoy this Super Bowl, a good experience wasn’t a common one.
The seat fiasco was probably the most disappointing aspect of this Super Bowl experience. With all the excitement and splash made by Jerry Jones trying to break the Super Bowl attendance record, no provision was made for the fans, mostly season-ticket holders of the Steelers and Packers, who were booked into those temporary seats that were not allowed to be filled. Most of them didn’t know that their seats had been blocked off until they tried to enter the stadium, and encountered an army of ticket takers and ushers who didn’t know what they were doing. Was it worth disappointing several thousand fans, and sending them on a wild goose chase around the stadium to try and set some meaningless record? The Super Bowl would sell out whatever stadium it was played in.
Apparently, stadium officials had a clue that there was a problem with the temporary seats as far back as a week ago. The outcome of notification and communication then wouldn’t have been great, but it would certainly have been better than what transpired.
Texas hospitality wasn’t evident in the hotel business in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, either. Of course, in free market economics, the prices are set by what the market will bear, but it appears that, in many cases related to this super bowl, the hotels were inhospitable when it came to rates and services offered. One of the biggest scams hotels perpetrate on their guests during events such as this is the requirement to book three nights in order to get the “special” event rate. However, at many hotels in the area, the special rate was only available for two nights, requiring guests to book a third night at the regular rate to get it.
The Cowboys Stadium and Rangers stadium are both in Arlington, Texas, a sprawling suburb halfway between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Hotel rooms there are limited, and not always high quality, but guests were paying well over $300 a night during the days before the Super Bowl. Hotels in the downtown areas were charging their guests $100 for a bus ride to and from the stadium. A cab ride from downtown Ft. Worth to Arlington is normally $40, however, on a radio talk show here today, we heard that the meters were off, and the ride was $100 each way. Welcome to Texas, and let us get our hands into your wallet right away.
Of course, the local arrangements groups didn’t have any control over the weather, which left a lot of people looking for alternative activities when they’d planned to be on the golf course, or outside doing something. Who’d have guessed that Dallas would experience bitter cold, an ice storm and six inches of snow the week before the Super Bowl? You’d expect that when it is played in New York, but when you go to Dallas, you take your golf clubs with you.
For Pittsburgh fans, the experience would have probably been a lot better if the outcome had been different. And a lot of the people from here who went reported having a good time at the NFL Experience, and other stadium venues. But future super bowl host cities might do well to pay attention to what a lot of fans from both teams are saying about the inconveniences and expense of this year’s Super Bowl, number 45, and learn from it.