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6 posts from August 2010


Taste of the NFL countdown starts with North Texas Dinner Series

Foodies in North Texas will be getting a lot more than just a "Taste" of the NFL. The annual charity event, which has raised more than $10 million for local and national food banks since its inception in 1992, will have a countdown of its own this fall, with the Taste of the NFL Dinner Series in North Texas.


The Taste of the NFL, which will be held on the eve of Super Bowl XLV, Feb. 5 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, features chefs from each of the NFL cities, preparing one of their specialty dishes. These culinary stars include those you may have seen on TV foodie programs. The food and wine fest has become the most successful fundraising event associated with the Super Bowl. Thirty percent of the proceeds raised will be distributed to North Texas food banks and organizers are shooting to raise $1 million on the 20th anniversary of Taste of the NFL.

This year, however, you can begin digging in starting Monday, Sept. 13, with chef Sharon Hage at York Street in Dallas. Even restaurants and their stellar chefs will be featured in the Dinner Series, which concludes on Nov. 16 at Grady's in Forth Worth. Tickets for the Dinner Series are $125, and part of it will be tax deductible. 

Chef Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas (pictured at right), who has been a regular participant of the Taste of the NFL, said the goal of the Dinner Series is to "create yet another way to raise money and awareness of the hunger issue in North Texas."

Tickets for the Taste of the NFL at the Fort Worth Convention Center are $500 and $600; corporate tables seating 10 are $6,000. For more info, visit www.tasteofthenfl.com/tickets or call 952-835-7621.

Here is the lineup for the Taste of the NFL Dinner Series:

Sept. 13: York Street Restaurant, Dallas, Chef Sharon Hage

Sept. 27: Bonnells, Fort Worth, Chef Jon Bonnell

Oct. 8: Del Frisco's, Dallas, Chef David Holben

Oct. 13: Olenjack's Grille, Arlington, Brian Olenjack

Oct. 15: Lonesome Dove, Fort Worth, Chef Tim Love

Oct. 21: Stephan Pyles Rsstaurant, Dallas, Chef Stephan Pyles

Oct. 28: Fearing's Restaurant, Dallas, Chef Dean Fearing

Nov. 4: Grace, Fort Worth, Chef Blaine Staniford

Nov. 7: Michael's Restuarant, Fort Worth, Chef Michael Thomson

Nov. 8: Abacus, Dallas, Chef Kent Rathbun

Nov. 16: Grady's Restuarant, Fort Worth, Chef Grady Spears.

-- Pete Alfano

Super Bowl XLV volunteer ranks climb to 6,000 and counting as October deadline approaches

The start of the National Football League season is just over two weeks away, which means preparations for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6 are kicking into high gear. And that includes the recruitment of volunteers who are the backbone of making the first Super Bowl in North Texas a success. Amanda Whitelaw, volunteer services manager for the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee, said Wednesday that 6,000 people have registered and among the favorite "shifts" are airport greeters, the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park, and hotel welcome desks.


The goal is to "draft" 10,000 volunteers, which would be the most of any Super Bowl to date. Even so, Whitelaw said that there are already enough to cover about 30,000 shifts because many volunteers are signing up for multiple shifts.

Thus far, 35 percent of the volunteers are from Tarrant County and 32 percent from Dallas County. There are also 12 countries and 37 states represented, with volunteers coming from countries such as Brazil, Poland, Japan, China and Canada. About 200 volunteer applicants have worked at previous Super Bowls.

Because the volunteer program was launched in the spring, the host committee has had time to contact prospective volunteers to ensure they are serious about their commitment. "We've been able to be proactive with those who submitted incomplete profiles and have been able to sift out about 1,000 people who are not really ready to make the commitment," Whitelaw said.

Allstate was recently announced as the presenting sponsor of the volunteer program and the insurance company is hoping to recruit 1,000 employees as volunteers, which would represent almost half its Texas work force.

And Bob Lilly Professional Promotions has been selected as the vendor supplying the caps, T-shirts and jackets that comprise the volunteer's uniform.

For those who would like to volunteer, just go to the host committee website, http://www.northtexassuperbowl.com/volunteers and complete the seven rounds of information in the volunteer "draft." The deadline is Oct. 31. All applicants are subject to a background search by federal authorities working with the NFL. None of the volunteers will work inside Cowboys Stadium on Super Sunday or even outside the stadium.

-- Pete Alfano


NFL Players Choir to sing God Bless America at XLV Countdown at Cowboys Stadium

We know know what the playlist will be for at least two performers at XLV Countdown Live from Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 10.The third and last concert in the ambitious first of its kind concert series produced by the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee will feature a one-hour performance by Tim McGraw, a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys and a tribute to Emmitt Smith, the Cowboys running back recently installed as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Fort Worth's Van Cliburn, the most famous classical pianist in the world, will play the National Anthem and the NFL Players Choir, comprised of former players, will sing God Bless America. "It will be fun to see these players in the stadium, on stage, garbed in their choir robes and not on the field playing ball," said Kit Sawers, the vice president of special events for the host committee.

The NFL Players Choir is a part of the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, an NFL sanctioned event that was introduced in 1999. In addition to performing at the concert at Cowboys Stadium, the choir will be part of the 12th annual gospel celebration on Feb. 4 at Music Hall in Fair Park.For tickets and information for the XLV Countdown concert, visit www.northtexassuperbowl.com/xlv-countdown.

For more about the gospel celebration, visit www.superbowlgospelcelebration.com.

Pete Alfano   















Allstate joins Super Bowl committee as volunteer program sponsor

Allstate has joined the Super Bowl XLV host committee as presenting sponsor of the volunteer program, the host committee said Wednesday.

The program, launched in April, will recruit and train the volunteers who will staff numerous activities and venues throughout North Texas, including airports, major hotels and the NFL Experience, heading into the Feb. 6 game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"It’s a pleasure to be able to announce this partnership with Allstate. They bring a highly respected brand and a large Texas presence to this key initiative," said Bill Lively, host committee CEO.

Volunteers will receive an official uniform, including a jacket, shirt and hat. To sign up to volunteer, visit www.northtexassuperbowl.com and click "volunteer."

- Scott Nishimura


North Texas putting new slant on Super Bowl initiatives

The North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee wasn't content just to follow the template of previous Super Bowls in its first opportunity to play host to the game. The host committee also undertook two ambitious initiatives -- the concert series and SLANT 45. And both may be setting a precedent for future super Bowls to follow.

The concert series, which was launched at Bass Hall in March and featured Faith Hill, had a successful encore when Sting played the Windspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in May, and will culminate when Hill's husband -- you may know him as Tim McGraw -- teams with Van Cliburn and the University of North Texas Symphony in the Sept. 10 finale at Cowboys Stadium. The concert will also commemorate the Cowboys' 50th anniversary and Emmitt Smith's induction recently into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

With school about to start, SLANT 45 has already enjoyed great success. The community outreach program aimed at elementary school kids teaming to complete projects giving back to the community, had set a goal of enlisting 20,000 kids and now has 13,061. They represent 27 North Texas school districts and 42 cities in the region. And it is not just public schools that are participating. There are 10 private schools registered in the program, which has also included youth football teams and girl scouts.

When school begins on Aug. 23, a renewed effort will be made to sign up kids to participate in projects such as raising money to combat hunger, visiting returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq, helping clean up parks and school grounds and raising gang awareness.

And all the kids who join up will be able to attend the SLANT 45 Kids Bowl Bash at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 11. SLANT 45 The Movie -- a documentary about the program -- will have its premier at the Angelika Theater in Plano on Jan. 28.

Pete Alfano


Tom Landry Super Bowl Highway to be super busy in weeks ahead

You might want to avoid Interstate 30, otherwise known as the Tom Landry Super Bowl Highway, on the evening of Sept. 10. This is the night that the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee throws its "Countdown" concert at Cowboys Stadium, featuring Tim McGraw and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys. A host committee spokesman says that tickets sales are at 23,049 for the finale of the Super Bowl Concert Series, with expectations that 35,000-40,000 fans may attend the celebration. Most tickets are priced at $25 and parking will be either $10 or $15 depending on the lot. The goal was to make this concert accessible and affordable to anyone who wants to attend.

Right across the street at Rangers Ballpark that Friday night, your West Division-leading Texas Rangers will be playing the New York Yankees in the first game of a weekend series that might be a preview of a playoff match-up. If the weather cooperates, there may be more than 40,000 fans in attendance.

There is precedent for this handling this type of traffic at those venues. Last August 19, the Rangers played the Minnesota Twins with about 33,000 fans in attendance while Paul McCartney was playing Cowboys Stadium, with an estimated 38,000 people watching.

The Cowboys drew 105,000 to their first-ever regular season game at Jerry's Place last Sept 20. The NBA All-Star Game also drew 100,000, although in these instances, everyone was coming to the same venue.

Tuesday will be a nice dress rehearsal. In the quirky American League schedule this season, the Yankees are here for the first of their two August visits while the Cowboys will have their open-to-the-public Silver and Blue practice at Cowboys Stadium at 5:30 p.m. Fans are admitted for $10. The practice will also feature the Cowboys Cheerleaders, the Rhythm and Blue Team and Cowboys alumni in an autograph session.

Pete Alfano