Bill Lively, president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, was thinking big when he set a committee budget goal of $30 million for the 2011 game at Cowboys Stadium. After all, that would be a host-committee record. While precise figures aren’t available, Lively (at left) says it’s likely that the host committees in Arizona and Tampa Bay, for example, raised about $17 million and less than $11 million for their games in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
By mid-March, the budget for Lively’s North Texas committee had ballooned to $40 million, thanks to the added expense of some one-of-a-kind Super Bowl events. Fortunately, the committee by March had also generated a total of almost $21 million in confirmed sponsorships, grants, and contracted revenues, despite the still-struggling economy. The committee was also scheduled to receive part of a $31.2 million Major Events Trust Fund established by the state; the rest of the fund will be used to reimburse public-safety expenses incurred by local governments.
More than half the host committee’s $21 million in sponsorships, grants, and contracts came from a whopping 12 “million-dollar sponsors.” That number of million-dollar sponsors far exceeds the two million-dollar sponsorships that Detroit—until now the record-holder among Super Bowl host committees—snagged for the game played there at Ford Field in 2006.
Knocking on corporate doors accompanied by area mayors and former Dallas Cowboys stars Roger Staubach, the committee chairman, or Troy Aikman, a committee board member, Lively says those doors were opened enthusiastically. After hearing about the regional and business benefits of the big game in the sales pitch, many CEOs responded by opening their wallets as well. The committee helped by being flexible on payment with the million-dollar sponsors, allowing companies to put $250,000 down and to pay the balance by January.
The committee’s million-dollar sponsors in North Texas so far are: American Airlines, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Corporate Magic, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, Fluor, Frito-Lay, Tom Hicks, Hillwood, Gene and Jerry Jones, Jones Lang LaSalle, T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens, and Ted and Shannon Skokos.
Here’s what some of them told us when we asked the reasons for their contributions to Super Bowl XLV.
American Airlines: Boosting Traffic
The Fort Worth-based airline began conversations with the host committee last year about partnering up for the 2011 Super Bowl, says Billy Sanez, American’s director of advertising, promotions, and corporate communications. “We know that events like this drive tremendous [airline] traffic,” he says. “So there was an over-arching benefit to American Airlines, because people have to fly here.” That’s true not only during the week of the big game itself, he adds, but throughout 2010 for Super Bowl-related activities. The airline’s sponsorship, which was still being finalized at press time, is considered a marketing expense and includes “in-kind” contributions and an online component, Sanez says. Super Bowl XLV will “help us a lot with traffic,” he says. “And the tremendous cherry on top of this sundae is the opportunity [the sponsorship] gives us for community involvement.”
T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens: Relationships Matter
The iconic energy-industry entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens has become nearly as famous recently for his philanthropic efforts. During his career he’s given away more than half a billion dollars to various good causes, including tens of millions of dollars to both the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and hundreds of millions of dollars to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University. According to Pickens spokesman Jay Rosser, the energy executive has personal relationships with “a number of the driving forces” behind Super Bowl XLV, including Bill Lively, Roger Staubach, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, and Irving Mayor Herbert Gears. Pickens “is impressed with their leadership, their vision, and their desire to make this a celebration that cuts across the economic spectrum,” Rosser says. “For Boone, [becoming a founding sponsor] was a no-brainer.”
Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau: Worldwide Exposure
As Louisiana’s secretary of culture, recreation, and tourism before coming to North Texas, Phillip Jones says he saw first-hand the benefits that two Super Bowls had on the Pelican State. Those benefits included an additional 1 million visitors to Louisiana in the year following each big game, says Jones, who’s now CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. “So anything we can do to put Dallas in the Super Bowl rotation,” he adds, “I wanted to support.” The DCVB’s “founding” (or all-cash) million-dollar sponsorship will help showcase Dallas to a billion people around the world, Jones says—many times more potential visitors than he could have reached with $1 million worth of advertising. The bureau began accruing the money for the sponsorship several years ago—before the Great Recession hit—in its “future obligations fund,” Jones says. So, what else besides global exposure for Dallas does the DCVB expect for its support? “Our primary interest was making sure we’re able to host the [Super Bowl] media party in Dallas,” Jones says. The Sheraton Dallas has been tapped to be the big game’s “Media Center,” and Jones says three locations were on the table at press time to host the media party.
Hillwood: Development Opportunity
When Bill Lively and Roger Staubach of the North Texas Super Bowl host committee approached Hillwood about becoming a sponsor of the 2011 game, the real estate development company’s founder and chairman, Ross Perot Jr., liked what he heard from the get-go. “Hey, this is our Olympics!” Perot said. “This is a unique opportunity to have a globally recognized event right here in North Texas.” That’s according to the recollection of Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, who believes the company’s founding sponsorship will expose Hillwood to a “huge new group” of CEOs. “The more people we can bring into North Texas, the better our chances are of attracting new business,” Berry says. Super Bowl XLV, he adds, will be an “economic-development showcase opportunity for the whole region.” Considered a marketing or “community-giving” expense by Hillwood, its million-dollar cash sponsorship wasn’t undertaken lightly, Berry says—especially in this tough economy. “We felt we’ve got to spend a lot of money so we can do [the Super Bowl] right and get it back,” he says. “We need to make it unlike any Super Bowl ever done before, so they’ll come back to North Texas every five years. Then the economic impact will really take off.”
Ted and Shannon Skokos: Committed To Education
This husband-and-wife team committed the first $1 million founding family sponsorship in Super Bowl history through their Ted and Shannon Skokos Foundation. The foundation makes grants primarily in the areas of education, the arts, science, and religion. The Skokos’ Super Bowl commitment is going to the big game’s charitable initiatives but mainly to SLANT 45, the biggest education project ever undertaken by any Super Bowl host committee. “We learned about SLANT 45 more than a year ago, and immediately said, ‘We want to be a part of it,’” says Ted Skokos, a lawyer who founded several telecom companies, including Aloha Partners LP. “It’s really been more than we anticipated, and hope that it will grow as a permanent fixture at [future] Super Bowls.” Relative newcomers to Dallas, the Skokoses also gave $10 million to the AT&T Performing Arts Center (the stage at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House is named after them). Shannon, who is also an attorney, is a former Miss Arkansas (1992) and the founder of the Miss Virgin Islands Scholarship Organization.
Fluor Corp.: Paying It Back
CEO Alan Boeckmann of Fluor, the engineering/construction giant that relocated to Irving four years ago from Southern California, says the company has been welcomed here with open arms by everyone from chambers of commerce to the United Way. And the last four years have been among the most lucrative in Fluor’s history. So when Bill Lively, Ross Perot Jr., and Roger Staubach went to see Boeckmann about sponsoring Super Bowl XLV, it only took the company 48 hours to say yes. “I have deep respect for those guys,” the chief executive says. “Then when I saw the financial impact [the Super Bowl] would have on the whole North Texas area—and realized it was the first one to be held here—I thought, ‘What a great way to get involved and help pay back some of the benefits we’ve seen.’” Fluor will see “significant benefits” from its founding sponsorship, Boeckmann says, especially in the area of client relations. Did he ever have any qualms about the sizeable sponsorship, given the struggling economy? “Clearly we thought about that, and I felt a number of companies may not have given because of that,” he says. “But we were just getting ready to announce the best financial results in the company’s history,” so Fluor dipped into its general corporate budget and made its commitment to the big game. “I think [the Super Bowl] will be a tremendous event for North Texas,” Boeckmann says. “We’re proud to be a part of it.”
What $1 Million Buys
The big game’s biggest sponsors will get a variety of perks.
Here’s some of what each founding sponsor was promised for its $1 million:
- The right to have one person on the host committee, from the time the sponsorship is committed through the big game in February.
- Title sponsorship of a host-committee program or event, provided the NFL OK’s it.
- Access to a luxury suite accommodating 16 at Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV.
- Fifty game tickets to Super Bowl XLV.
- Sixty-six invitations to Super Bowl XLV pre-game and post-game hospitality events that the host committee produces at Cowboys Stadium.
- Recognition and acknowledgement in all host committee publicity campaigns, promotions, publications, advertising, and collateral materials, pending the NFL’s OK.
- Two invitations to special events hosted by Gene and Jerry Jones and Marianne and Roger Staubach at their homes.
- Ten invites to the North Texas Super Bowl Kick-Off concerts at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
- Two hundred VIP passes to the NFL Experience at the Dallas Convention Center.
- A VIP table for the Taste of the NFL event in Fort Worth.