HOUSTON—There is a reason they call it the Super Bowl.
”Economic impact of the Super Bowl. The visibility that it provides is unmatched,” said Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes.
There will be billions of people watching around the world, room for a million to participate here.
”The heart of El Centro will be right here at Discovery Green,” said Ric Campo, who led the Houston bid committee.
”They won’t have game tickets. So this is an opportunity for them to enjoy the Super Bowl and see it up close. See some football stars see some media some excitement the whole area will be enlivened,” said Dawn Ullrich of Houston First.
Here are some of the plans:
The NFL experience will return to the George R. Brown Convention Center, along with the Media Center and other activities.
That is the same as Super Bowl 38, but that is where the similarities end.
There was no Discovery Green in 2004.
”We are gonna have a 300 foot video wall that we are going to call the Super Wall in El Centro,” Campo adds.
Super sized iconic Super Bowl Roman Numerals, LI, “Will arrive with the pageantry of an Olympic torch,” said Campo.
All of these public activities centered in the heart of downtown will be similar to the festivities surrounding the NCAA Final Four.
”We know how to do this. We know how to do it well. Bring it on,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker said.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett summed it up.
“Now, our work really begins,” he said.
With a payoff as high as $600 million to the local economy, there is just one missing element.
”Now we are going to be working hard to be in that game. To win that game and maybe a few before that as well,” Rootes said.
Every game needs a home team!
Super Bowl LI is coming to Houston for very good reasons.
“We have a world class stadium. We have a world class city. We have a world class team. I think that is an important reason that we got the bid,” Judge Emmett said.
Over at Reliant Park, right next door to the state of the art, is the state of the past. The eighth wonder of the world is a wonder no more.
The building has been condemned for years and the only wonder now is where, or what, will it be when the global spotlight shines next door.
As much as the politicians want to divorce the game and the Dome, it is an issue.
”The Astrodome was discussed at various levels,” said Campo.
The Dome was included in the party last time around as a venue for a pre-game concert, but this time it is something to talk around.
The NFL Owners are comfortable with where the issue stands.
“They feel that the process that the county is going through now is a reasonable rational process or they would not have given us the Super Bowl,” Campo said.
There have been dozens of plans and even a signed agreement to redevelop the dome.
“We are not short of great ideas of what to do with the Dome. We are short of ideas that have money attached to them,” Emmett said.
There is a process in place now for dealing with the issue of the decaying dome. By June 10, private developers with plans must submit them with financing attached. If there is not private interest that is acceptable, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will present its best option on June 25th.
One of those options being discussed is demolition of the Dome and turning that space into a parking lot.
”I think that the Sports and Convention Corporation will come forward with a definitive plan and we will make a decision. By 2017 I think that decision will be implemented,” Emmett said.
Ultimately it is in the hands of Harris County Commissioners Court and likely a bond election.
In that election there can only be one option.