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DFW organizers need more say in Cowboys Stadium prep, Super Bowl committee boss says

The president of the local Super Bowl organizing committee said Wednesday that future committees should have a voice in preparations at Cowboys Stadium, which went awry before the Feb. 6 game, leaving a black mark on four years of work.

The "Lively Report," as Bill Lively lightheartedly called his assessment of Super Bowl XLV, will describe what he believes could have been done differently and will include a recommendation that the next North Texas Host Committee "have more direct involvement with the stadium."

"We should have been more informed than we were," Lively said about the well-publicized seating debacle, which displaced 1,250 ticket holders and left 400 without any seat for the game.

In its 2007 bid for the Super Bowl, the Host Committee promised the National Football League that more than 93,200 seats would be available. At least 13,000 of those had to be temporary seats.

Yet Lively did not learn that the temporary seats might not be finished on time until 11:30 the night before the game, when he received a call from a staff member.

Although the Host Committee was charged with fulfilling the promises made in the bid, the NFL took control at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 8, the morning after the Cotton Bowl. And it was the Dallas Cowboys who hired the seating contractor and supervised the project.

"The last time I was in the stadium was Jan. 19, for a Host Committee and Council of Mayors meeting," said Lively, who will not be involved with the next Super Bowl bid. "We expressed concern [about progress on the seats], but we had nothing to do with the stadium."

Lively's meeting with the Star-Telegram kicked off a weeklong tour designed to inform the public and Host Committee partners about the Super Bowl's impact on the region. Despite the double whammy inflicted by Mother Nature and the seating fiasco, Lively said plans are on fast forward to create a North Texas sports commission to help the region bid for the 50th Super Bowl, among other major events. He hopes it will be in place by this summer.

A commission would also coordinate efforts throughout the region for events such as the NCAA Final Four at Cowboys Stadium in 2014. While the national reviews may have given North Texas a black eye for Super Bowl XLV, Lively said, unprecedented initiatives undertaken by the Host Committee and the "enormous" revenue that Cowboys Stadium generated for the NFL will earn the region a second chance.

"The [NFL] owners will look at the revenue yield, and I think we'll get another game," he said. "When that will be, I don't know."

He said the plan is for a sports commission to build on the Host Committee's success in raising $25 million in sponsorships for the Super Bowl and launching programs such as the SLANT 45 service project for children, a concert series, and the Century in the Making "greatest football moments" voting, all of which created a drumroll for the Super Bowl and enabled North Texans to be part of the experience.

The commission would expand and contract as needed whenever the region bids for events, Lively said. But it would have a small, permanent staff. He said it would be nonprofit and apolitical.

Although the commission would not be a "government entity," it would have to work with municipalities to ensure that adequate public services are provided, among them police, fire and medical.

"And that city expenses are reimbursed," said Trey Yelverton, deputy city manager for Arlington.

The sports commission would be funded by sponsorships and memberships and based on the model used in Indianapolis, which Lively said "has a distinguished track record for 30 years." He said the commission would enlist the support of sports and venue owners in the region, as well as companies.

"If we don't do this, we will be re-creating the wheel every time, and that's stupid," he said.

Staff writer Susan Schrock contributed to this report.

Pete Alfano, 817-390-7985

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