Super Bowl Class Studies Blitz to Host Big Game
Public Affairs Students Taught by One of the Civic Planners Calling the Plays
Dec. 7, 2010
Next February’s Super Bowl is being billed as the biggest event to ever hit North Texas, and UT Dallas students have gotten a sideline view this fall of how the big game was won.
Dan Petty, a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, also serves on the region’s bid and host committees. He has shared his experiences with graduate students this semester, teaching a public affairs course called “Road to the Super Bowl.”
“The Super Bowl is going to mean so much to North Texas,” Petty said. “I think most people have no idea just how much we stand to gain from this opportunity to showcase our cities with the whole world watching.”
Nobody will know for weeks which teams will compete in football’s annual showdown. But the competition for hosting privileges kicked off in 2006. Putting together a winning bid was a huge undertaking, and it required a region-wide effort, since the Metroplex had never hosted such a major event and was competing against many other eager host cities.
Petty and fellow government and business leaders had to secure financing and a plan for accommodating tens of thousands of game week visitors. They also had to spell out how the Super Bowl would benefit the region beyond game day, outlining several volunteer youth initiatives that would be launched by the Super Bowl and continue into the future.
Though the performance of his Dallas Cowboys has not made Jerry Jones a popular figure lately, Petty praises the leadership of team owner Jones and his family in securing the Super Bowl for North Texas. He also points to the “phenomenal” new Cowboys Stadium as a major factor in sealing the deal.
Petty was invited to join the bid committee because of his long experience in public service. He previously served as a city manager, worked on the staff of a Texas governor and was president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He’s now senior consultant for the North Texas Commission.
Once the National Football League chose Arlington as its 2011 destination, the bid committee morphed into the host committee, and those same community leaders had to start making plans to implement their big ideas: figuring out transportation, public safety and event-management priorities.
The long-standing rivalries among the area’s major cities and small towns had to disappear, at least temporarily, for the bid to go forward and for February’s event to wow the world. It’s this cooperation that will be a major focus of Petty’s UT Dallas class.
“This project has involved an incredible amount of collaboration among the governments and businesses throughout this area,” he said. “I’m talking to my students, some of whom want to lead cities in their future careers, about how well leaders have worked together to supply the ideas, the resources and the support that has been required. They’ve really come together and demonstrated collaboration at its best.”
Petty said he believes the partnerships formed during the Super Bowl experience will mean better, more productive relationships among area communities in the future. As the Metroplex competes with other regions of the state or country for new business and better jobs, this collaborative spirit is almost essential to success.
He predicts North Texas will impress a lot of people with its Super Bowl, and he said it’s only the beginning. The organizing committee is putting together a bid for the 2014 Final Four basketball tournament and may attempt to host the Super Bowl again in 2014.
Petty wants his class, which was open to graduate students from all over UT Dallas, to expose the complexities of overseeing major public projects. Students should get a better understanding of the variety of economic, political and social pressures involved in successfully staging a major event or implementing a challenging new initiative, he said.
Since he has started teaching, UT Dallas students have stumped him with tough questions a few times. But Petty said he welcomes the exchanges and is impressed by his bright students.
“I think it’s admirable that (the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences) had the flexibility to put together this class, instead of being rigid and sticking with the usual courses,” he said. “When something comes along like this, the Super Bowl, we should make sure that we take full advantage of it and learn as much as we can from the process.”