ARLINGTON -- With less than three months until Super Bowl Sunday, Arlington is busy preparing for the influx of visitors as well as for those looking to cash in on them.
On Tuesday, the City Council approved hiring contractors to help the city inspect planned layout changes at Cowboys Stadium, which will add seating for the Feb. 6 game.
The council also approved rules that will regulate advertisers, businesses and protesters wanting to take advantage of the national media attention the Super Bowl will bring to Cowboys Stadium.
Some of the preparations will help the city fulfill Super Bowl bid obligations, such as assuring the National Football League that corporate sponsors will be protected from competitive advertisers trying to fraudulently associate themselves with the game.
The council approved creating a “clean zone” in a one-mile radius around Cowboys Stadium that would ban temporary signs, projected image signs, inflatables and other marketing activities starting Jan. 23, if they have no official ties to the game.
The rules are also designed to help prevent the sale of counterfeit or unlicensed merchandise. Similar rules restricted advertising near the stadium during the NBA All-Star Game last February.
Streets near stadium to close early
Parking and transportation plans are also under way. Last week, North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee representatives asked Arlington to consider banning pedicabs during the game because of traffic and pedestrian safety concerns.
Deputy City Manager Trey Yelverton presented the request to the City Council on Tuesday and, although no official action was taken, several council members indicated that they would support a temporary ban.
"I don’t think you can mix buses and cars and emergency vehicles with pedicabs.We have enough trouble on regular game days,” Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said.
Yelverton said an agreement has been reached with Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor to provide additional parking for the game.
At least 25,000 spaces are expected to be available between Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the theme parks, in addition to 30,000 spaces available at city-permitted entrepreneurial parking lots, he said.
A few thousand parking spaces closest to the stadium will be blocked off as part of the NFL's safety perimeter, and to make room for TV trucks, the big tailgate party and VIP tents.
The city is also working to prepare Arlington motorists for lane reductions and road closures around the stadium beginning in late January.
Two weeks before the game, Cowboys Way and Legends Way will be closed completely while a secure perimeter is constructed around the stadium, public works assistant director Keith Melton said.
Starting Jan. 28, Randol Mill Road and Collins Street around the stadium will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Collins Street will be open to southbound traffic only, Melton said.
Rules for protesters
City officials are also expecting more people to seek permits to hold protests at the stadium, which is a city-owned facility, during the high-profile event.
The council approved establishing a formal process where applicants, if they indicate their event is protected by the First Amendment, can request an expedited permit application review to cut down the waiting time from weeks to days.
City ordinances will be updated with clear standards under which Arlington can deny an application and establish a formal appeals process.
On Tuesday, the council approved a $100,000 contract with Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. to assist with plan reviews and inspections at Cowboys Stadium and to handle routine building permit issues citywide during Super Bowl week.
The funding will come from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund.
Arlington previously contracted with the firm to help review construction of the $1.2 billion stadium, which is partially taxpayer-funded
About $5 million is being spent to make changes in the stadium, including $2.7 million for temporary seating, according to the Super Bowl Host Committee. The NFL is estimating capacity of about 93,200 for the game.
The league is expected to release more details about the planned stadium configuration and anticipated seating capacity on Dec. 7, Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said Tuesday.
“It is not clear whether standing-room-only tickets will be an aspect of the Super Bowl,” Crowson said. “The capacity issues are still being discussed.”
Arlington has typically allowed a maximum of 14,400 standing-room tickets for the six party decks at other stadium events, although nearly 30,000 such “Party Passes” were sold during the first regular season Dallas Cowboys game in September 2009.
The stadium’s maximum occupancy is about 111,000, but that includes maintenance areas and other areas with no view of the field.