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Unbeatable Super Bowl combination


The following is the transcript of a question and answer session between Senior Writer Vic Ketchman and Jaguars minority owner Tom Petway, co-chairman of the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee that won the 2005 Super Bowl bid for Jacksonville.

VK: Why and how did you get involved in this bid for the Super Bowl?

TP: Why I got involved is because I guess I still believe Jacksonville has a lot of opportunities to become a first-tier city, and I think being a Super Bowl city is a sterling indicator of that. I've just been involved with the city all of my life and I just thought it was another opportunity to make the city bigger and better and help it become a better place to live. How I got involved is that basically Wayne Weaver just drafted me and Peter Rummel. It was Wayne's idea and he just basically came to Peter and me and said let's talk about how we can do this, and it just evolved into Peter and me being co-chairmen of the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee, and we put together an executive committee of some 14 people.

VK: What chances did you think Jacksonville had of being awarded a Super Bowl?

TP: We believed the cruise ship concept was feasible, therefore, Jacksonville should qualify from the beginning. We didn't start this effort on a wing and a prayer. It was Wayne's idea to get the cruise ship industry committed to try to supplement our hotel issue. We believed from the beginning that it wouldn't be if we'd get one, but when we'd get one. I think it's pretty common knowledge that the NFL would like to expand its venue opportunities for the Super Bowl. You know, they've been going to the same places forever. We were influenced by Wayne's enthusiasm right from the beginning.

VK: There's a lot of talk about what this is going to do for Jacksonville. What are some specific examples?

TP: It's a one-of-a-kind endorsement of a city that endures forever. We'll now be known as a Super Bowl city, and I expect that by 2005 the audience will be a billion people and the international audience will number 200 countries. To quantify that is an economist's job, not my job, but it has an economic impact of some $300 million dollars in today's dollars, and by 2005 we expect it to be more. It changes Jacksonville a lot like the Jaguars changed Jacksonville. It's just another gold star not many cities can claim.

VK: What made your Super Bowl presentation group unique?

TP: As a rookie or an underdog you probably bring more enthusiasm, more hard work than a city that might've had a Super Bowl eight times. It's probably more important to Jacksonville than it is to other cities that have been in the rotation for years and years and years. It is true that Mike Weinstein was a key ingredient as our executive director, and the person responsible for marshalling the work force. We had a lot of people working on this under Mike's direction, and I think the presentation was a big part of our success story. Our presentation, if you ask people who saw it, was very persuasive. Wayne wasn't really part of the presentation, but he had an equally important role in making a personal presentation to the owners before they voted. The combination of a three-part presentation delivered by Weinstein, Rummel and Petway, and the audio visual package, was as good as it had to be. They said Detroit had a $150,000 dog and pony show, and we had a much lower budget, but I think we delivered the message and Wayne just closed the deal with his presentation. I would like to add that the Dalton agency, an agency run by Jim Dalton and his associates, just did an outstanding job. They should be acknowledged as a big part of our success story. They used all of our assets, but they put it together in a most professional way. If you could get a critique from the owners, they would tell you that our action-packed presentation explained our bid, explained the cruise ships, explained the compact radius of the two miles that is our Super Bowl landing venue, in a very insightful and forceful way.

VK: What are your concerns or fears for the project?

TP: I'm not worried about anything. I've faced challenges my whole life in business, and I thrive on challenges. I believe the bigger the challenge, the better the result. One of the major reasons I think Jacksonville got a Super Bowl is that we had delivered in the past to the NFL. When we had made the NFL a promise, we delivered, and they had learned through experience to trust Jacksonville, and to trust the leadership of Jacksonville, and to trust the Jaguars and to trust Wayne Weaver, and to trust the mayor. It's just a relationship that's predictable. In fact, we have exceeded expectations on and off the field. It's really a Cinderella story that people are proud of. I think the idea that the NFL has confidence in us, gives us confidence in ourselves. The biggest and most important job we have now is to locate a Super Bowl czar who will wake up every morning 365 days a year and worry about Feb. 6, 2005. We'll do that and we'll come up with the right person, and we'll come up with an excellent leader, and we'll manage our way through all of the challenges. I wouldn't use the word fear or concern, I'd use the word optimistic in accepting the challenge and being successful.

VK: Is this the first step in making Jacksonville a national event city?

TP: I don't see this as any lynchpin to a next designation. We are really not a convention destination city. We don't have the hotels on a daily basis. We're swelling the supply for the demand for the Super Bowl by bringing in cruise ships. Who knows what the cruise ship industry might do after this. They're very enthusiastic about coming in and doing this. I think it'll help Jacksonville become a cruise ship hub, for sure, because our river is a wonderful asset that is kind of a well-kept secret right now. This is going to show the world that Jacksonville has been a successful destination for the cruise ship industry. It'll take us to the next level, but I'd be reluctant to predict what else at this point might come as a result of the Super Bowl. What I'm excited about is that we're in the Super Bowl rotation now. I think this experience, and our weather, and our city, and our ability to perform and exceed expectations, our reputation for all of those things, will come to pass. Our goal is to have the best Super Bowl ever in 2005. If we do that, they're going to want to come back, and what a wonderful designation that would be, to be in the rotation every 4-5 years. Let me say this, with Mike Weinstein and his many executive-level staff people, this application would not have been complete and our bid would not have been as well-received. Mayor Delaney is to be congratulated for his vision of the importance of this, and we do have a great partner in the city of Jacksonville. The combination of Wayne Weaver, the Super Bowl Host Committee, and the government was just unbeatable.

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