A week after the nation's most-anticipated sporting event left Houston,city officials are breathing a sigh of relief.
But as Houston relaxes,the next two host cities in line anticipate their turns in the spotlight.
“Each day is perishable as a lost opportunity,” said Susan Sherer,executive director of the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. “We want to be in the best position we can possibly be in.”
The 2004-06 host cities – Houston,Jacksonville and Detroit – are in a sort of club,as they were chosen at the same time by the National Football League in November 2000.
In Jacksonville,Super Bowl committee members returned from observing Houston's production day with a new plan: creating a downtown festival.
In the days preceding the Super Bowl,Houston's so-called Main Event was a free entertainment “party place” with nearly 40 music groups,laser-light shows and street performers.
“Houston really had to create a festival – that's the newest thing,” said Michael Kelly,president of the Jacksonville 2005 Super Bowl committee. “We studied that from an operational and entertainment standpoint. We will have a lot of riverfront property to transform into an entertainment village.”
The Jacksonville committee has also signed contracts with three cruise lines for ships that will serve as floating hotels,restaurants and entertainment venues during Super Bowl week. The group has raised more than three-fourths of its $10 million fundraising goal.
Meanwhile,Detroit's committee is planning a similar downtown festival with a winter theme,complete with ice sculptures,skating and outdoor concerts.
“We've got to prepare people mentally for the cold so they come with a hat and a scarf and gloves and boots,” Sherer said. She said she assumed it would be warm when she went to Houston and regretted not bringing enough warm clothes.
But the biggest project in the works for Detroit involves housecleaning.
“Detroit is really going through a time in its life that is bringing it from a good to great stage,” Sherer said. “It's not bad to good,but good to great.”
Revitalization projects in the city,which saw a 7.5 percent decline in population from 1990 to 2000,include rebuilding main streets,building facades and the riverfront.
“I know the reputation of Detroit is unfairly presented out there,” Sherer said. “People come here with a certain set of stereotypical expectations. But I think people are going to do a double take when they get here.”
Houston shared similar appearance anxieties,prompting its mayor to start a smile campaign so the city could seem happy,if not pretty.
The Detroit Super Bowl will be played in the $500 million Ford Field,which opened in 2002 alongside Comerica Park,the baseball stadium built in 2000. City leaders have been trying to attract new business to the once booming downtown.
Compuware,a Michigan information technology company,consolidated its headquarters and moved to Detroit last year.
Both Jacksonville and Detroit want to increase Latino participation in Super Bowl planning. Both cities have Latino populations of about 5 percent.
“It's the largest minority group in the country now,and there's a huge interest in the Latino community,” said David Krichavski,an NFL spokesman. “It's just burgeoning now,and if we embrace that community and show them what football has to offer,we've seen that they'll flock to the game.”
The NFL last year began a marketing campaign to attract more Latinos to the sport,which included selling Spanish-language apparel. Specific Super Bowl efforts included the first-ever Latino Leadership Initiative in last year's host city,San Diego. That included workshops for Latino businesspeople and students,as well as $300,000 in NFL donations to Latino communities in San Diego and Tijuana,Mexico.
The initiative continued in Houston,where the NFL held a similar leadership series for emerging minority and women business leaders,as well as Latino-themed festivals.
Also,two youth centers will be built in Houston – one in a poor Latino neighborhood,another in a similar black community – through NFL and host committee funding.
Houston's Latino population – 37 percent – dwarfs those of Jacksonville and Detroit,so NFL projects in those communities will be smaller,Krichavski said.
Jacksonville's Kelly said his committee is reaching out to Latinos through Echo Latino!,the local Spanish-language newspaper.
“We really are counting on our publication partner to reach that segment,” he said,adding women and minority businesses are a big part of the planning.
While Detroit's committee hasn't advertised in Spanish-language newspapers yet,it has similar plans to reach out to minority business owners.
Restaurants and businesses in Mexicantown,the Latino area of Detroit,can expect to benefit from the Super Bowl's projected $300 million economic impact,said Maria Elena Rodriguez,a member of the Super Bowl committee and the president of Mexicantown Community Development Corporation.
Mexicantown is one of the city's most economically active areas. Officials recently broke ground there for an international welcome center anchored by a public market that will include restaurants,stores and cultural events.
The Super Bowl is one reason for the center's creation,and Rodriguez said there are plans to have shuttle buses from the game and festival area to the center.
After Detroit,the next Super Bowl cities are Miami in 2007 and Glendale,Ariz.,in 2008