'Pay to play' leaves some hotels outside Super Bowl circle




Posted on January 26, 2011 at 10:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 26 at 11:45 PM

If a visitor depended on the official Super Bowl Web site to find a hotel, he or she might think North Texas stops west and south of Fort Worth.

The search engine brings up no results for outlying cities such as Cleburne, Weatherford, Granbury and Burleson.

"We have some 900 rooms available," said Weatherford City Manager Jerry Blaisdell.

"We're only 25 minutes away from Arlington Stadium," noted Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce president Dan-O Strong.

The Super Bowl site's main pages — including the accommodations page — highlight the 12 cities that helped pay the $1 million cost of the North Texas Super Bowl bid, including Lewisville, Plano, and Frisco.

But cities that chose not to pay to play are now going out of their way to be a part of game day.

"We feel it's not only a great event for Arlington, Dallas, and Fort Worth, but the entire North Texas area," Blaisdell said.

In Weatherford, the Chamber of Commerce is preparing a goody bag with local coupons, candy, and souvenirs for every Super Bowl visitor who stays in that city. The chamber is also offering a free shuttle to the game.

"Simply to provide a hospitality that allows people to not have to drive or get into the traffic," Blaisdell explained.

Burleson is not only offering a complimentary bus to the game, but a ride to and from a nearby private airport, and to local restaurants.

It's one reason Comfort Inn hotel owner Mitch Patel is 70 percent booked for the big weekend. "They're very excited," he said. "They save over $100 n cab rides, parking."

Other suburban hotels are discovering that lower rates are enough to attract visitors to their establishments.

"Starting out, it's at $119," said Kirk Williams, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Alvarado. "We have suites going up to $139."

Williams just booked 16 rooms to one person who is thrilled that Super Bowl rates aren't super-sized in Alvarado.

The official Super Bowl hotels still have rooms for rent. They are about 85 percent booked. The cheapest rate we found Wednesday was $140 in Plano. The most expensive? A hotel in the Fort Worth Stockyards for $460 a night.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com