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Hooray for the hotels

We’re going to have a lot of people coming into town for Super Bowl LI. We’re going to have to put them somewhere.

Mayor Annise Parker said Thursday that hosting the 2017 Super Bowl will be another step in Houston’s evolution as a designation city of international prominence.

Speaking to the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston at The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa, Parker praised the industry’s role in gaining the coveted bid this week and touted the city’s continuing efforts to attract more visitors.

She said Houston is gaining worldwide recognition.

“We are now saying, ‘What can we do that is uniquely Houston to bring people to the city?’ ” Parker said.

Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, applauded the local hoteliers for exceeding the NFL’s requirement for how many rooms Super Bowl host cities must set aside for those attending the event.

Ortale explained that during the bidding process, the NFL asks area hotels to make long-term commitments to ensure rooms will be available and guests won’t be charged exorbitant rates. The NFL asked cities submitting bids for the Super Bowl to commit 19,000 rooms. Houston’s hotels exceeded that number.

I imagine there’s a certain amount of latitude to the definition of “exorbitant”, but never mind that. Like I said, there will be a lot of people coming in to town. You may be wondering what we plan to do with them all while they’re here. The GHCVB has a plan for that.

Those grand plans include a “rocket ship ride” in Discovery Green that aims to blow away the zip line ride over downtown Indianapolis that impressed so many during the last Super Bowl. “We’re going to have something like a rocket ship,” Houston Super Bowl bid chairman Ric Campo promised as the full scope of the Bayou City’s winning Super Bowl vision emerged Wednesday.

“. . . It’s not fully baked,” Campo said after a pause, allowing that many more details will have to be worked out before the pretend rocket blasts off.

Still, the rocket ride speaks to the grand scale of these Super plans for 2017. The renderings on display at One Park Place included a tall, high-tech looking, free-standing structure in Discovery Green that Campo later described to CultureMap as something of a “Space Needle.” By the time it’s fully unveiled, it’s likely to have a more Bayou City fitting name, but there is little doubt that the Super Bowl organizers hope to have NASA involved.

What clearly already blew the NFL owners and officials away is the Houston vision of turning the Super Bowl from a one-week party into a 10-day event. As Campo describes it, the Super Bowl action, which has typically started heating up on the Tuesday of game week, will instead begin the Thursday before the NFL’s typical off weekend — a full 10 days prior to the big game’s kickoff.

“No other city had that as part of their proposal,” Campo said.

Campo admits that will require more money and more big-time events to fill up what’s essentially an extra four days. After many other reporters had left One Park Place following the close of the official press conference, Campo told CultureMap that the early plans call for major concerts (much like the 2011 Final Four, only even bigger acts) and themed days that highlight Houston’s diversity.

“We’ll probably take a page from the Rodeo there,” Campo said of the themed days and making sure all 10 days have major draws. “. . . We’re creating a festival experience for people without tickets.”

The organizing committee estimates that more than a million people will visit Discovery Green during the 10-day “festival.”

Dale Robertson wrote a column before the NFL made its decision that talked about how Discovery Green was a key component of Houston’s bid. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the programmers have in mind. The potential is there for some really awesome events.

One more thing, from the original story:

“Welcome to Boomtown, USA,” Parker said. “We know how to handle a boom because we’ve been through a bust. We don’t want to screw it up.”

I believe the proper expression is “Oh, Lord, please grant me one more oil boom. I promise not to piss this one away.”

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