fort worth

Final thoughts on Dallas

February 8th, 2011 at 1:29 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

I’ve had a bit of time to digest my thoughts on our Super Bowl XLV trip (and catch up on sleep – at least a bit).

The roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were covered in ice for much of the week

Overall, it was an amazing experience. It was a lot of work for everyone, and those who are here at the station today sound very tired. But we accomplished an incredible amount. It was great to read and hear the nice comments from viewers through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and in person. It was a long week, but that was because we packed in an awful lot. And brought home a Packers victory!

Aside from the game, the biggest story was the weather. Tuesday’s ice storm was just the beginning of three and a half days of cold, ice and snow. Clearly, snowplows and road salt are in short supply in North Texas. The best they could do was put down sand on the roads. While that did give drivers a bit of traction, probably the bigger effect was to turn streets, sidewalks and people’s cars brown. It was cold, too. Wind chills were below zero one morning, and local newscasts said it was the coldest weather the area had seen since 1996. Some of the parties hosted by big-name celebrities were also canceled because of the weather. To be fair, the crews who arrived on Saturday said the weather was beautiful that day, so much so that they ate dinner outside. It was also nice the first Sunday and the following Friday, Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday morning. While the area received a lot of negative reaction to its handling of Super Bowl week, a historic winter storm really could not have been controlled.

Now that I’ve been to the area, I would like to check it out sometime when it’s warmer. Not too warm; we were told temperatures routinely top 100° in the summer. The Fort Worth Stockyards seemed especially interesting. I’m not much for “cowboy” stuff, but the western wear shop we visited Thursday morning was a lot of fun. So was the saloon across the street. Those two establishments have been in business for over 100 years, so there is some authentic history there. The rest of the stockyards also sounded interesting, with live cattle drives and other events like rodeos regularly scheduled there.

Dealey Plaza and The Sixth Floor Museum were also interesting. I won’t rehash my thoughts on that here; you can read my previous blog post for that.

Several of the FOX 11 crew work in the media center during Super Bowl week (courtesy Rachel Manek/Facebook)

Our home for the week was the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas. It was the officially-designated hotel for media, so there were many features right there.

The biggest, of course, was Radio Row, where many sports talk radio shows set up camp for the week. It was also the destination for several celebrities and ex-players who came in to be interviewed. Off the top of my head, I can remember seeing Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Hugh Jackman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jerome Bettis, Archie Manning, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx and Herschel Walker. (Click here for a video tour of Radio Row)

Next to Radio Row was a media work room that was our second home for much of the week. Each station was set up with electricity and an Internet connection, so we were able to do all of our story writing, video editing and website updates right from there.

To actually do our reporting, we were on our own to get where we needed to go. The station rented seven cars for the 13 people on the crew, so we were able to be represented in a lot of different places at once. We had heard the Dallas-Fort Worth area is spread out, and that’s an understatement. Fort Worth is about 40 miles to the west of Dallas. Arlington, where Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark are, is about halfway between the two main cities. The airport is another 25 miles or so to the northwest of Dallas. And the metro area doesn’t feel like Milwaukee or Chicago, where you drive through several continuous suburbs when you’re going to or from the city. It seems like each community in the area is its own separate entity. I also found driving in downtown Dallas to be somewhat of a challenge (especially compared to Fort Worth, whose streets seem to follow a grid system much more closely). You can read more about that here.

The Packers are recognized as Super Bowl XLV champions on Cowboys Stadium's giant scoreboard

After all that, it can be hard to forget we were there for a football game. While I didn’t get to the see game in person (read more about that here), I was inside the stadium. I was also on the field for Media Day and part of the postgame show.

From what everyone said, the giant scoreboard makes it seem like you’re watching the game on your own TV, especially if you’re up high in the stadium. I didn’t get up to that area to see it for myself, but I believe it. Overall, the stadium still has a “new” feel to it, which isn’t surprising since it’s only two years old.

The scene outside the stadium before the game was also exciting. Both the Packers and Steelers have passionate fan bases and were well represented at the game. It was fun to see the back-and-forth cheering between the two sides.

All of our time cards for the week showed similar totals

So it was a fun, yet exhausting week. Most days were 12-16 hours of work. I was up before 5:30 a.m. every day, and some days didn’t get to bed until 11:00 or midnight. On game day, we left the hotel at 5:15 a.m. and didn’t get back until about 1 a.m. the next day. Many of the staff still had work to do after that, so we were all very bleary-eyed on the flight home the next day.

Still, it’s been a privilege to bring the Super Bowl to FOX 11′s viewers back home in Northeast Wisconsin. We hope we gave you a good sense of the experience and an idea of everything that was going on.

For me personally, it’s also been fun to keep you updated on this blog. I appreciate the comments I’ve received through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Thank you for following along, and if you have any comments to make, don’t hesitate to leave them below.

Now on to Super Bowl XLVI!

The weather…again

February 4th, 2011 at 3:16 pm by under Super Bowl XLV, Weather

I know I said I’d tone it down about the weather, but it just continues to be a big story here in Dallas.

The Fort Worth Stock Yards woke up to a fresh coat of snow.

We were forecast to get a half-inch to an inch of snow today. In reality, we probably got that much overnight, and flurries are still falling here at almost 3 p.m.

It was quite the drive for me out to Fort Worth this morning. Fort Worth is about a 40-mile drive west from downtown Dallas, and I had to be in place at 6:30 a.m. So that meant a really early start.

There weren’t a lot of cars on Interstate 30, which is a six-lane road between Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of bolder drivers were moving at about 40 miles per hour or so,  but others had their flashers on and were going 25 miles per hour or less.

A look out the window at the White Elephant Saloon gives this sign an ironic twist

What’s normally about a 45-50 minute drive took me more than an hour on the way there. On the way back, it took close to an hour and a half with rush-hour traffic.

Still, today’s snow wouldn’t have posed much of a problem in Wisconsin. The difference is, plows and road salt are apparently in very limited supply here in Texas. So whatever snow falls stays on the ground. To make things worse, there is still a layer of ice on many roads from Tuesday’s storm.

Besides the precipitation is the cold. It’s still cold outside -  cold even by Wisconsin standards. The thermometer in my car read 19 degrees as I got in the car to head back to Dallas.

Who knew I should have packed a snow brush?

Still, we had a fun time at our live shots this morning. We went to the Historic Stock Yards area of Fort Worth. Basically, it’s a bunch of really old shops and, as the name suggests, a livestock yard in the old part of town.

Chuck at Fincher’s White Front Western Wear was a lot of fun, and he even showed us how the creases are put in cowboy hats.

We then moved over to the White Elephant Saloon, where kitchen manager Rockland Mann made us feel right at home. That’s another fun, historic place – it was the scene of a shootout in the frontier days.

Rockland said it best – this Texas weather comes out of nowhere. It can be beautiful one day and miserable the next.

Wait, where have I heard that before?

The view from my hotel window Friday morning

Rachel Manek and Photojournalist Mike Raasch get ready to tell Northeast Wisconsin about the weather in Texas

I thought this sign might have been an omen for Sunday

The Cow Town Diner

January 31st, 2011 at 9:14 am by under Super Bowl XLV

When I heard we were going live at a place called the Cow Town Diner, I pictured a greasy spoon restaurant on a dusty road. It was anything but.

The diner is in the middle of downtown Fort Worth, which seems to be a pretty vibrant place.

The owner, Scott Jones, was very gracious and even showed us how to make his Packers Punch. Unfortunately, we were on the clock, so we couldn’t partake.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos from our live shots and downtown Fort Worth.