Nearly 75,000 visitors are expected to flock to Fort Worth for the Super Bowl, but the Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes that won’t keep 109ers and other city residents from joining the celebration when the Steelers come to town.
Kelly Campbell, vice president of marketing communications for the bureau and a resident of the 109, said parking and dining downtown should not be a problem for Fort Worth residents.
“We want our locals to enjoy this experience,” she said. “All of the restaurants and bars and stores are prepared for all the visitors as well as our locals. It’s really a chance for everyone to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Campbell said the size of the crowd was not out of the ordinary for the city.
“Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival alone probably draws the same if not more numbers than what we’re anticipating downtown to be like during the Super Bowl, so we’re used to accommodating these large events,” she said.
The festival usually draws about 400,000 people to the downtown area over four days, she said.
Among the downtown businesses preparing for Super Bowl fans are the restaurants in the Omni Hotel. The Omni, host of the AFC champion Pittsburg Steelers, will keep its lobby and restaurants open to the public throughout the team’s stay, according to Larry Auth, director of sales and marketing.
The hotel’s guest room floors and meeting spaces are booked exclusively by the Steelers and closed to the public, but the ground-level floor will be open for people to come-and-go and be part of the hotel, Auth said.
“We have five outlets on the ground floor and a Kimbell gift store that are open to the public, and as the team comes and goes you may get a glimpse of them,” he said. “We are anticipating a lot of folks in and out of the building.”
While the lobby is open for fans to star-watch, Auth said no plans had been made for the Steelers to sign autographs or take pictures downstairs in the hotel.
“They are not releasing their schedule to us of when they’re coming and going purposefully for that reason,” he said.
Auth said one of the reasons the hotel was a good match for the team was because the meeting rooms were all located upstairs on the second floor, making it easier for security to block off.
Auth said the Omni had hosted four NFL teams already this season, including the Bears, Saints, Dolphins and Raiders, all as opponents of the Cowboys. However, none of the teams had rented out the entire hotel as the Super Bowl has.
Players, friends, family and staff of the team will take up all 600-plus rooms at the hotel.
“(The other teams) didn’t have as big of an entourage as the Super Bowl will,” he said.
Parts of Houston, 12th and 14th streets surrounding the Omni will be periodically shut down starting Jan. 31, but the hotel’s parking garage will remain open from the Throckmorton entrance.
Campbell suggested that visitors check out http://www.fortworth.com/visitors/superweek to see a full listing of street closures for the coming week. Once parked, the city’s free shuttle bus will be available to take guests from place to place, she said. Molly the Trolley will be running between Sundance Square, the Stockyards and the Cultural District, with stops including the Intermodal Transportation Center to pick up passengers arriving on the TRE.
“Once you’re parked there really isn’t any need to drive from place to place,” she said.