Seating capacity boosts Dallas-area's bid

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – NFL owners decided to super size the Super Bowl on Tuesday.

During one-day meetings at the Loews Hotel, the league's top executives voted to play the 2011 Super Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys' future stadium site, awarding the game to the North Texas region over bids from Indianapolis and Glendale, Ariz., which host Super Bowl XLII following the '07 season.

One of the key issues that tipped the scales in favor of the Cowboys' new digs, which will be located in Arlington, was the stunning seating capacity at the stadium. Under the plan presented by Dallas owner Jerry Jones and the area's host committee, the NFL will have the opportunity to sell approximately 100,000 seats for fans to see the game live and another 20,000 tickets for standing-room only viewing in adjoining plazas at each end of the stadium.

"I think that was obviously a big factor," Jones said, echoing remarks from several other owners. "One of the things I always remember in talking to (former team president) Tex Schramm about football is that the game isn't a studio event. You have to have the crowd, the pageantry and the excitement that creates."

Jones remembered that clearly from when Dallas won its first Super Bowl under his ownership, defeating the Buffalo Bills in front of more than 98,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

"The feeling of walking out on the field three hours before the game and realizing that there would be (nearly) 100,000 people in the stands was really overwhelming," Jones said.

The new stadium, which is slated to open for the 2009 season, has an expandable seating capacity. In most games, it is expected to hold roughly 70,000 spectators, but can enlarge. The maximum capacity gave the North Texas bid roughly 27,000 more seats to sell over the expected 73,000 max at the new stadium being constructed in Indianapolis.

With Super Bowl tickets already at $600 and expected to increase to approximately $800 by 2011, the difference in revenue could be $21.6 million. That doesn't include the plaza areas. Jones said that another 10,000 fans would be able to fill the plazas at each end of the stadium and watch the game via giant screens and television feeds.

Conservatively figuring those tickets cost $300 each, that could be another $6 million in revenue.

That wasn't lost on many of the NFL owners.

"The ticket factor is a big one," Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga said.