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02/17/2011

Early returns show North Texas economy got Super Bowl boost

Despite the snow and ice, Super Bowl planners say the game brought more private planes, more hotel revenues and more train riders to North Texas than expected.

The North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee is starting to get back some of the data from Super Bowl weekend and says "profitable feedback" is coming in from airports and hotels.

"Here’s what we know so far ... the economic impact of this game was tremendous and made a big impact on this state in a difficult time with our budget," Host Committee president Bill Lively said.

Lively stressed that it will take months to compile all of the data to get the complete picture of the economic impact of the game.

Usually, it takes 60 days for sales tax data to be collected by the state comptroller’s office. Cities that are expecting to be reimbursed for Super Bowl-related expenses out of a comptroller-run sales tax Super Bowl fund are currently compiling receipts.

But so far, Super Bowl planners say they are encouraged by the numbers they have seen.

Six of the 15 regional airports have reported figures to the Host Committee, and Lively said almost 1,200 private aircraft landed during Super Bowl week. Organizers had expected more than 700.

The night before the game, there were close to 800 private aircraft parked at North Texas airports, he said.

In a 21-hour post-game period, from 9 p.m. Feb. 6 to 6 p.m. Feb. 7, the Federal Aviation Administration reported more than 1,100 general aviation departures. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport had an additional 44 charter flights, 100 corporate aircraft and 60 extra commercial airline flights, the airport said.

Dallas hotels saw revenues quadruple the Thursday of Super Bowl week, with revenues on that Saturday up 590 percent, according to the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Arlington and Fort Worth hotel data is not yet available. However, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau chief executive Jay Burress said that hoteliers in his city were thrilled with their Super Bowl week.

"Only a month prior to the game, they still had availability, and they were nervous and ready to see what was going to happen," Burress said in a statement. "Many of the hotel rooms were filled immediately once the teams were known."

Trinity Railway Express ridership numbers were bolstered by Super Bowl crowds.

On the day before the game, the TRE carried a record 9,088 riders to the NFL Experience in Dallas and the ESPN studios in Fort Worth's Sundance Square.

With the packed crowds in Sundance Square that day, the TRE added two additional trains that ran late Saturday evening. TRE shuttles to its Centreport station also carried 4,000 passengers to the game.

Even though fans had difficulty traveling on roads around the Metroplex because of the ice, Super Bowl planners touted the fact that no official function or team-related practice or activity was delayed due to the weather.

More 600 TxDOT employees, 400 pieces of equipment, 3.2 million pounds of granular magnesium chloride and 34,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride were used to clear the snow and ice from roads.

Lively also touched on the community impact from various programs sponsored by the Host Committee.

For example, 6,000 trees were planted in 12 North Texas cities as part of the NFL’s Environmental Program, and 45,000 local children participated in the Slant 45 program, performing 440,000 hours of community service.

-- Andrea Ahles

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