The eyes of the world are upon Texas

While the Steelers and Packers are the main course, there will be plenty of other Super Bowl eventsTim Heitman/US Presswire

• Photo gallery: Take a tour of the last 10 Super BowlsPhoto Gallery | Pilgrimage to Cowboys Stadium

Also see: Super Bowl Stadium Guide | XLV events | What do Super Bowl tickets cost?

Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, and with the Lone Star State's love of football and Jerry Jones' sparkling $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and Steelers on Sunday offers about the biggest stage ever.

Given the history of football in the area -- from Slingin' Sammy Baugh to the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry to the iconic star of the Dallas Cowboys -- it is almost inconceivable that this part of Texas has never hosted a Super Bowl. (Houston has hosted two, in 1974 and 2004.)

X marks the spot

For a photo tour of the last 10 Super Bowls, click herePhoto Gallery to see 20 images.

For more images, take a look at the Cowboys Stadium photo galleryPhoto Gallery.

Also see:
--Super Bowl XLV Stadium Guide
--Pilgrimage to Cowboys Stadium

To be sure, Cowboys owner Jones helped build Cowboys Stadium with the idea it would host Super Bowls and other marquee events, and so far it has not disappointed, becoming a major destination in its own right.

The largest crowd ever for a basketball game, 108,713, attended the 2010 NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium. The stadium picked up the Cotton Bowl and other major college football games. And it will host the 2014 Men's Final Four, and a national political convention also could be on the agenda.

The attendance for Super Bowl XLV also could set a record. The Super Bowl mark is 103,985 set in 1980 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. With the stadium's capacity at about 100,000, the NFL also sold 5,000 tickets on the outside of Cowboys Stadium, at a spot dubbed Party Plaza, where fans can watch the game on huge HD projection screens, but won't be allowed inside. That might be a cheap, er, unique way -- given the $200 price -- to establish a Super Bowl record, as those tickets will count toward the official attendance since those fans will be inside the security perimeter. The NFL also is offering Super Bowl tours for $40, through Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, Super Bowl XLV will be the most widespread Super Bowl in history, according to the North Texas Host Committee, with official events to be staged in four counties, more counties than any other Super Bowl site. (Granted, Texas has a ton of counties -- 254, compared with, say, 58 in California -- and the most of any state.) The fringe benefits should spread even further, since the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex includes 12 counties (and nearly 7 million residents). Indeed, cities big and small in North Texas hope to cash in on America's biggest sporting spectacle.

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While Dallas may get the lion's share of the attention, Fort Worth is the hub for many events, including the three-week Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo that concludes Saturday. And Arlington officials are quick to point out that the game will be played in their city, not Dallas. With a 2010 census estimate of 380,000, Arlington is the 49th largest city in America -- larger than Pittsburgh -- and is situated almost halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth on Interstate 30 (the Tom Landry Freeway). But even as XLV's host, Arlington seems to be largely ignored by all the references to Big D.

"It's just something we have to overcome," said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck.

Either way, Super Bowl XLV has most assuredly captivated the locals.

"I've lived here my whole life and it's just unbelievable how excited people are about this coming here," said Bill Lively, president of the host committee.

The executive committee has brought out the big guns with Cowboys Hall of Famers Roger Staubach as chairman, Troy Aikman as vice chair and Emmitt Smith as a member.

The economic impact is estimated at a half-billion dollars, according to Lively. He said 150,000 visitors should arrive via Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport -- with some 700 private planes expected to be in the area -- and another 100,000 people should be "coming in some other type of vehicle from outside the area."

Some economists are skeptical about the host committee's estimated impact, putting the spending at closer to $200 million, but agree figures should be higher than those for Miami and other venues.

Unlike in Miami or New Orleans, midwinter is not a high tourist season for North Texas. But the seating configuration of Cowboys Stadium can be expanded from the regular-season capacity of 80,000 to accommodate 100,000 for the big game. That's a good thing, considering two of the NFL's more die-hard fan bases -- Green Bay and Pittsburgh -- are sure to send plenty of fans to Texas.

"We don't have the beaches that a Miami or Southern California has," Lively said. "But we've got some of the country's best shopping, restaurants, cultural areas and museums."

Three years of planning should help ensure the event's success, Lively said, yet he knows all too well the eyes of the NFL -- and much of the rest of the world -- will be upon Texas.

"We are building a template we hope will help the bid process for the 50th Super Bowl," Lively said. Next year the NFL will name the host city for 2016's Super Bowl.

Lively said he feels confident that his committee, the NFL and the folks of North Texas have done all they can to make the first Super Bowl in the Metroplex a triumph.

One factor nobody can control is the region's fickle winter weather. That volatility can be seen in the long-range forecast, which calls for sunny but windy conditions and temperatures in the low- to mid-60s for Super Bowl Sunday. In the next few days a cold rain is expected, with a high of 50 and a low near 25.

"We are working throughout the region with all of the clergy, priests, ministers and others of faith to put in their weather prayers," Lively said. "We can probably deal with the rain, but we just don't want the ice."

Regardless, the roof at Cowboys Stadium, the world's largest dome, will be closed for the game. And host committee officials are hoping a lasting impression is an open-and-shut case.

Tony Guadagnoli is a freelance writer in western Washington. Contact him at tonyguad@yahoo.com.


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Super Bowl XLV events listings

North Texas' Super Bowl festivities include everything from free football clinics and autograph sessions to jammin' concerts and a high-end poker tourney. Here is a look at some of the activities that will keep visitors and locals -- and bars and businesses -- busy leading up to kickoff. All times Central

NFL Experience
Through Sunday; $25 for adults, $20 for children ages 12 and younger
Dallas Convention Center
650 S. Griffin St.
Dallas, TX 75202
888-635-2273 | website
Features more than 50 interactive games and attractions. Includes free clinics, football instruction, NFL coaches' chats, free autograph sessions and the country's largest football card show.

• Wednesday: Kids Day, 11-2 p.m.; NFL Experience, 3-10 p.m.
• Thursday: NFL Experience, 3-9 p.m.; NFLX After Dark, 9 p.m. to midnight
• Friday: NFL Experience, 3-10 p.m.
• Saturday: NFL Experience, 8-10 p.m.
• Sunday: NFL Experience, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Remembering Tom Landry: The Personal Collection"
Held through Sunday; admission $2, no charge for ages 12 and younger
Hall of State
Fair Park
3939 Grand Ave.
Dallas, TX 75210
214-421-4500 | website
In addition to memorabilia from the late coach's legendary tenure with the Cowboys, items from his days at Mission High School and the University of Texas are on display, along with medals from his time as a co-pilot in World War II.

Gene Simmons Aces & Angels Salute to the Troops
Wednesday, 7 p.m.; $475
Centennial Hall, Fair Park Dallas
1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75315
214-440-3936 | website
Hosted by the KISS bass player and reality-show star, the show will feature musical acts, several NFL players and other celebrities, a Texas-style buffet and unlimited drinks.

Sixth annual NFL Charities Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling

Wednesday, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.; $300 per bowler or $500 per couple
300 Dallas
3805 Belt Line Road
Addison, TX 75001

201-489-0049 | website
Amateur bowlers are paired on teams with NFL players, including members of the Hall of Fame, to participate in a two-game tournament.

Adrian Peterson's All-In Celebrity Poker Tournament
Thursday, 4-8 p.m.; $150 to $1,000 to attend, and $500 to play
Gilley's Dallas
1135 S. Lamar St.
Dallas, TX 75215
888-445-5397 | website
The charity event benefits the All Day Foundation. A total of 200 poker players will vie to make the final top-10 table.

Bad Boy Mowers Celebrity Softball Classic
Thursday, 5 p.m.; $25, general admission; $125 for VIP tent
LaGrave Field (home of the Fort Worth Cats Baseball Club)

301 N.E. Sixth St.
Fort Worth, TX 76164
817-925-5352 | website
This celebrity softball game that benefits the Tara Sawyer Foundation features Texas Rangers players and former NFL players, a concert with Mark Chesnutt, a live auction and fireworks.

Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam
Thursday, 7 p.m.; $45 and $60
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
1001 Performance Place
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
972-854-5111 | website
A nationally televised concert event with Kid Rock, Duran Duran and Jason Derulo.

Stars vs. Studs

Friday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; $15
NYTEX Sports Centre
8851 Ice House Drive
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
847-673-0592, extension 810
This is the Super Bowl weekend version of Pros vs. Joes, testing the skills of top athletes against Hollywood celebrities.

Super Bowl Gospel Celebration
Friday, 7:30 p.m.; $38 to $98
Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Ave.
Dallas, TX 75210
214-565-1116 | website
Enjoy an evening of fellowship and fun. Artists include Cece Winans and Israel Houghton.

Pepsi Musica Fan Jam
Friday, 7 p.m.; $45
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
1001 Performance Place
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
972-854-5111 | website
Latin artists Jenni Rivera, Chino Y Nacho and Dulce Maria will perform.

NFL Charities Celebrity Golf Classic
Saturday, 10 a.m.; donation to NFL Charities of $1,500 per golfer or $6,000 per foursome
Stonebriar Country Club
5050 Country Club Drive
Frisco, TX 75034
972-668-8700 | website
The competition level includes numerous current and former NFL players and coaches.

Fifth annual DIRECTV Celebrity Beach Bowl

Saturday, pregame show at 1:30 p.m., kickoff at 2:30 p.m., postgame concert at 3:30 p.m.; admission is free
Victory Park
2300 Victory Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219
Celebrity flag football game played on sand, where star athletes and famous celebrities go head-to-head in a televised game, followed with a concert by Maroon 5.

Taste of the NFL
Saturday, 6 p.m.; $600
Fort Worth Convention Center
1201 Houston St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
817-392-6338 | website
A food and wine extravaganza featuring a top chef from each NFL city paired with an NFL player or alumnus. Musical artists include Martina McBride. This charity event benefits hunger relief for the North Texas Food Bank.

Jim McMahon's 2011 Swang N' Super Bowl Bash
Saturday, 7-10 p.m.; $75 and $250 VIP
Granada Theater
3524 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206
214-824-9933 | website

Two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon is hosting his third annual event, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Lynda McMahon Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy. It will feature country artist Brother Trouble, along with a host of athletes, entertainers and musicians.

Super Latino Comedy Bowl
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; tickets $50 to $90
Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Ave.
Dallas, TX 75210
214-421-5678 | website
This comedy event features event host Shoboy, Alex Reymundo, Mark Viera, Felipe Esparza, Dennis Gaxiola and DJ Eplos Parados.