ARLINGTON - The 2011 Super Bowl is turning into a unifying experience for North Texas mayors.
At least 55 of them gathered Monday afternoon for the first meeting of the Super Bowl XLV Council of Mayors. Host committee officials said that such a council was a Super Bowl first and an important way to organize the region for the year's worth of events preceding the game.
"Everyone in this room is going to have a piece of this Super Bowl," said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck.
The game will be played at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, but ancillary events will be spread throughout Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties. Bill Lively, president and CEO of the host committee, said the council already has 92 members looking to benefit from the region's first Super Bowl.
Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs said that much of the country isn't familiar with his city. But he said the host committee and mayors' council would act as a conduit between Denton and all the opportunities that come with the Super Bowl.
Burroughs said he'd like to target specific groups, such as media support staff, and persuade them to stay in Denton during the Super Bowl. He said a commuter rail line will bring his city closer to the action by 2011.
"I'll even take the refs," Burroughs joked to Lively.
Monday's meeting was held at the Legends of the Game Museum at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Lively said the next one will probably be scheduled for September in the new Cowboys stadium.
The member mayors will get updates at least every two months and are expected to meet twice a year. Lively said the host committee will benefit by tapping into vast resources, such as thousands of potential volunteers needed for the Super Bowl. He said the committee would also work with the mayors to help organize events to attract some of the estimated 200,000 visitors that come to a Super Bowl.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said this regional approach is crucial to a Super Bowl experience that surpasses all previous ones.
"We want to create such a compelling argument to the NFL that they have to come back to North Texas year after year after year," he said.
Tony Fay, spokesman for the host committee, said a gathering like this is not common. He said that Dan Petty, president of the North Texas Commission, told him this is probably the largest group of local mayors assembled in decades.
Some of the larger cities - Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving - already know they are home to major events or are hosting teams. But Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said there are opportunities to spread the wealth.