The southern city of Dallas, Texas, has transformed from an oil and cotton town into an international city that is now home to several large businesses. This weekend, Dallas, along with neighboring Arlington and Fort Worth, will host hundreds of thousands of football fans for the biggest event in American sports - the Super Bowl. The North Texas host committee, which is promoting the region, is competing with inclement weather that is dominating the news.
There is a saying that everything is bigger in Texas. And ahead of Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011, that includes the weather.
A bitter cold front dropped rain and snow on an area that usually experiences moderate temperatures in February. The storm created a layer of ice that made walking, and driving to and from Super Bowl venues treacherous.
Sports radio host Corby Davidson is concerned about how the weather will shape first impressions of visitors to the first Super Bowl hosted in North Texas.
"I don’t know if it is a great place to visit," said Davidson. "It’s not like you’re going to Miami or New Orleans or San Francisco, where there are tangible things to do. But the weather here, obviously, is killing it. It’s going to be three days of the coldest weather this city has seen in 45 years. It’s worst-case scenario here."
"This only happens about every 30 years or so," said Jim Oberwetter, President of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce. His organization hopes that despite the weather, hundreds of thousands of football fans and media from around the world will get to know modern Dallas.
"We’ve gone through several evolutions here," said Oberwetter. "At first, we were very western. Then it became very cotton-oriented. Then oil came to Dallas, and we became a very oil-friendly place. Then that industry tended to move to Houston, and now we are a very diverse industrial area - commercial more than heavy industry."
Nearby Arlington, Texas, also is trying to make the most of the Super Bowl experience, but without help from the weather.
Jay Burress is the President of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helps promote the city of Arlington, and he said, "This is the storm of modern weather history, and there is not a lot you can do about it."
Arlington is the home of Cowboys Stadium - the newly constructed, $1.3 billion venue where the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will face off during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
And as one of the biggest, most expensive sporting venues in the United States, the stadium lives up to Texas’ reputation. With 105,000 people expected to attend Super Bowl XLV at Cowboy Stadium, this year’s event will host the largest Super Bowl crowd on record.
"This is the world stage right now so we can show that we can host the biggest events," said Burress.
Arlington, along with its neighboring Fort Worth and Dallas, also host the biggest companies, according to North Texas Host Committee Vice President Tony Fay.
"But outside the New York-New Jersey area, no place in America has more corporate home offices than this area," said Fay. "We have an enormous number of Fortune 500 companies that now call this area home."
In addition to hosting multinational companies and the Super Bowl, the region also is home to notable figures. Former U.S. President George W. Bush is building his Presidential Center on the grounds of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Cities planning to host future Super Bowls likely will face cold weather, as well. Indianapolis, Indiana, is up next, with New York and New Jersey hosting the event in 2013. That venue, the New Meadowlands Stadium, is outdoors, and offers no protection from the elements.
But rain or shine, ice or snow - the game will go on in North Texas this Sunday. Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof.