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In Arlington, residents and businesses forced to adapt for Super Bowl

ARLINGTON -- For Karen Walker, the Super Bowl siege is already under way.

She stocked up on groceries and doesn't plan to leave her home in the Woodbrook Addition, just north of Cowboys Stadium, until the Super Bowl is over.

And if she does, it will be a quick run to the Walmart across the street from the stadium for a gallon of milk or other necessities.

"It's like having the mother ship in your back yard," said Walker, 49, chuckling about how the $1.2 billion stadium dwarfs her home. "With all of the stuff that's going on over there, it's like the aliens have landed."

When Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009, nearby residents feared that fans would traipse through their neighborhoods or urinate on their lawns. But most of those concerns have been unfounded.

On game days, Walker and many others in the small cluster of homes north and west of the stadium feel surrounded, leading them to hunker down and wait for the hordes to come and go. So in that sense, the Super Bowl may not differ from any other Sunday during the season.

This time, however, the inconveniences may last for more than a week. And the expected record-breaking crowd of 105,000 -- along with the additional security and shut-down streets -- is changing how people live.

Members of the Faith Tabernacle Church just west of the stadium on Randol Mill Road have learned how to work around traffic that comes with Cowboys games and other special events. And, like manna from heaven, church members have been using money from parking revenue during those games to pay down the debt on their 31/2-year-old building.

But to accommodate the Super Bowl -- and to reap an additional windfall from renting out spaces to Steelers and Packers fans -- they are canceling Sunday services that usually draw about 100 churchgoers.

The Rev. Jonathan Harris said the church hasn't set a price for parking -- or decided whether it will hold any services next weekend.

"It has been a blessing, yes," Harris said last week. "We're still trying to figure out what is happening at the stadium on Saturday night. We really haven't come to a decision. All we know is traffic gets crazy when something is going on over there."

A mixed bag

Businesses around the stadium greet the Super Bowl with a mixture of hope and caution.

The Enclave Apartments, across from Cowboys Stadium, were offering seven units for a one-week Super Bowl rental ranging from $4,000 to $7,000. It included a parking spot.

The complex, which has also offered three-month leases during football season, had its phone ringing off the hook, but assistant property manager Joshelin Kantor, 27, couldn't say how many calls were from Green Bay or Pittsburgh.

"I had a phone call this morning from a woman, but she didn't say where she was from," Kantor said Friday. "I think she was just shopping around."

But Kantor, who has an apartment with a view of the stadium, is planning her own tailgate party.

"I'll probably have two or three friends over, and we'll just have our own little party," she said.

Some businesses think they'll be affected by lane closures along Collins Street and Randol Mill Road. All traffic on Collins is being moved into the southbound lanes, and traffic along Randol Mill has been narrowed to one lane each way. On Super Bowl Sunday, all traffic will be one-way southbound on Collins.

"I think our regulars are going to stay away next week," said Debbie Pearson, a waitress at the Pitt Grill restaurant across from the stadium. "I'm sure we'll be packed on the day of the Super Bowl. We'll probably be swamped from morning to midnight."

Just south of Cowboys Stadium, Bill Testa, managing partner of the 54-year-old Candlelite Inn restaurant along Division Street, has pre-sold his lot to a parking vendor. It is already sold out, according to Parkwhiz.com.

Testa has catered some Cowboys games and believes that his restaurant could actually see an uptick in customers because of the lane closures. Yet there's a small "For Sale by Owner" sign outside the restaurant entrance, an indication that Testa would like to move the Arlington institution to a new location.

"It's hard for my longtime customers to get here when a game is going on," Testa said. "And many of my customers that used to live around here have moved away. They live in Southlake or south Arlington or Mansfield.

"If I could sell the place tomorrow, I would. But I would move somewhere else in Arlington. I've had tire-kickers, but nobody can get financing in this economy."

Staying away

Residents west of the stadium have a simple method for coping with the Super Bowl -- avoid Collins and Randol Mill at all costs.

James Shearer, 78, who has lived in his home on East Street about four blocks west of the stadium for 52 years, said he snakes around on side streets to avoid the traffic.

Across the street from his corner lot is a home painted in Cowboys silver and blue that someone uses for Cowboys games. Shearer has no idea whether the owner will show up for the Super Bowl.

Shearer said that a stadium parking lot replaced a vacant lot but that the stadium has done little else to help his neighborhood.

"It was going down before the stadium opened, and it's still going down," Shearer said. "The Super Bowl hasn't made any difference to us."

Even if the weather is nice next Sunday, Shearer doubts he'll poke his head outside to see the spectacle. "I'll probably watch the whole thing on my living-room TV -- just like everybody else," he said.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

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