Snowland waxing warm as a Super Bowl host
Detroit — ''Michigan's Super!''
That's the theme song throughout the state these days as the host committee begins greeting visitors for Super Bowl XVI, the National Football League's championship game.
The committee's general meetings have been reminiscent of old-fashioned pep rallies with some pretty high-powered cheerleaders. The five-page list of those working on the project in some capacity reads like a Who's Who of Michigan and Detroit's government, civic, and business leaders. Coaching the meetings has been chairman Ernest A. Jones, who is also chairman of the worldwide executive committee of D'Arcy-MacManus & Masius Inc., an advertising agency.
The host committee, which has a $539,000 budget funded by business and private contributions along with government grants, has laid plans for transporting, housing, feeding, and entertaining some 70,000 visitors expected for the Jan. 24 extravaganza. Lining up for the 4 p.m. kickoff (Eastern time) will be the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, champions of the American and National Conferences, respectively.
After listening to the committee's enthusiastic plans for the game and related activities, Don Weiss, the NFL's executive director, remarked: ''All I can say is that we've been extremely impressed and almost flabbergasted. The community support has been fantastic.''
It all began in 1978. Civic and business leaders in Detroit and the metropolitan area decided to go after two premier events to boost the image and economy of southeastern Michigan: the 1980 Republican National Convention and the Super Bowl game. There appeared little chance of getting either one.
The GOP convention held here in July 1980 is history. It not only produced a presidential winner but a badly needed winning attitude in Detroit despite its economic doldrums. Twenty thousand happy delegates, news media people, and visitors spent $45 million during their stay.
And now it's the Super Bowl's turn. Michigan won the bid in March of 1979 at the annual NFL meeting in Hawaii. A delegation of Michigan public officers, civic, and business figures presented a 31/2-pound bid book of community commitment and support for the event.
So impressed was the NFL by this in-depth, documented presentation that it awarded Michigan the first northern Super Bowl by the first unanimous vote in its history.
Michigan plans to take full advantage of the imagemaking and financial fallout of this most touted of sports events. The 70,000-plus visitors (2,000 of them media people) are expected to pour $60 million into the state's beleaguered economy. That's worth the all-out effort, and that's what the cheerleading is all about. Michigan's host committee feels that with its coaching, game plans, and team spirit throughout the state it has put together a winner. It hopes that Warm Northern hospitality in a winterland wonderland will bring a return engagement of the Super Bowl to this clime.
This most watched television event, commanding $500,000 for a one-minute commercial, will be played 20 miles north of Detroit at Pontiac's Silverdome. Seating 80,000, it is the largest domed stadium in the NFL. Everything is being done to ensure maximum ease of traffic flow to and from the stadium. Communities within a 70-mile radius of Pontiac have been enlisted to help in hosting and participating in the festivities. It's to be their party too.
Gov. William G. Milliken has declared Jan. 18-25 Super Week. But the SUPER this and SUPER that festivities actually began much earlier, starting with the crowning of Miss Silverdome back in November. A reception for newsmen, including those who covered the first Super Bowl, will be held at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn during Super Week. This is a first. The world-famous museum does not normally host outside activities.
According to host committee chairman Jones, ''We are once again going to be in the national spotlight with the Super Bowl's 70,000 visitors and a television audience of an additional 100 million.
''If we make the most of this opportunity to show off our area to the fullest , we will not only enjoy $60 million in immediate income, but will be better able to lure more major events here through the good impression we have made.''
''Our task is not to promote the game or entertain the NFL officials. It is to convince the nation that Michigan's Super,'' he said.