Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas – February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

On Super Bowl Sunday, millions of American’s eat gluttonous amounts of food, binge-watch TV commercials, and enjoy a halftime show of epic proportions (or disappointments.) Oh, and I think there’s a football game going on, too.

Back in 2011, Arlington was thrust into the sports spotlight when we hosted Super Bowl XLV. It’s been ten years since the Super Bowl party came to Arlington. Let’s look back at one of the largest events to ever grace our humble little town.

Arlington City Limits

Dallas Cowboys & Cowboys Stadium

Arlington has a professional football team. Well, sort of. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys play here. 

The Dallas Cowboys left Dallas in 1971, their last year at Cotton Bowl stadium. After that, the Cowboys played at Texas Stadium in Irving, a suburb near Dallas. 

In 2009, Arlington became the Cowboys’ new home. Naturally, with a new home came a new stadium. Cowboys Stadium, sometimes “affectionately” called Jerry World for Team Owner Jerry Jones, is pretty big. It was pretty expensive, too. (No one calls it AT&T Stadium, not even the locals. Sorry, AT&T!)

Cowboys Stadium is the third-largest stadium in Texas, behind two college football stadiums. (Yeah, football is big in Texas.) Cowboys Stadium cost around $1.2 billion, making it one of the world’s most expensive stadiums. It has a retractable roof, and it’s one of the largest domed stadiums in the world. The jumbotron hanging from the rafters stretches from one 20-yard line to the other, a distance of 180 feet. It supposedly weighs over a million pounds and costs more than the entire Texas Stadium did when it was built.

September 2009 saw the Cowboys’ first regular-season game at the stadium. But planning and anticipation were already underway for the Super Bowl that would arrive less than eighteen months later.

Snow and cold weather for the Super Bowl

North Texas generally has mild winters. We seldom get snow. Arlington’s average high in February is 59 degrees. But in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, DFW Airport in Dallas had four days of measurable snowfall. Some days didn’t get above freezing. There was bitter, record-setting cold weather, snow, and ice. It certainly wasn’t ideal conditions for thousands of tourists to visit the area. The weather put a slight damper on the festivities, and some events got cancelled or trimmed down, but the Super Bowl spirit carried on. It was the first Super Bowl for North Texas, so we had to make the most of it. The show must go on, right?

Super Bowl XLV – game recap

The show went on despite the weather. Super Bowl XLV featured the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers. An audience of 103,219 packed Cowboys Stadium. An average of 111 million watched it on TV, which at the time was a record.

The Packers scored a touchdown late in the first quarter. Soon after, an interception made the score 14-0. The Packers led 21-10 at halftime. The Steelers outscored the Packers in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.

Green Bay won the game 31-25 for their 4th Super Bowl Championship. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the game MVP.

Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs. Packers highlights

National anthem, halftime show, and TV commercials

Christina Aguilera sang the national anthem. The Halftime Show featured The Black Eyed Peas, with guest appearances by Usher and Slash. It wasn’t my favorite halftime show but it could have been worse.

Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show – Black Eyed Peas

Ah, Super Bowl commercials. Indeed the bread and butter of the day, where 30 seconds of airtime cost $3 million. They’re often more memorable than the football game and halftime show combined. Popular commercials included ones from Volkswagen, Audi, Pepsi, Snickers, Doritos, Budweiser, and Best Buy. The “Volkswagen-Darth Vader” commercial has over a million views on YouTube, and a few lists called it the funniest one of the year. I’ll let you be the judge.

Volkswagen-Darth Vader – Super Bowl Commercial

Impact on Arlington

Whether you’re a fan of the Super Bowl or not, it’s a big deal for the host city. It takes months of planning and organizing. Despite the unfavorable weather, the Super Bowl still pumped millions of dollars into the local economy. It put Arlington on the map, so to speak, in terms of hosting large events. (It wasn’t the first large event, as Arlington also hosted the NBA All-Star Game and World Series in 2010.) Arlington and Cowboys Stadium would later host other sporting events, including college football, basketball, soccer, boxing, AMA Supercross, and monster trucks. Rodeos, the Country Music Awards, WrestleMania, and dozens of concerts have also been held there. (I saw Metallica and Guns N’ Roses there, albeit on separate occasions.)

Arlington’s Entertainment District

Cowboys Stadium is part of the Big Four in Arlington’s Entertainment District. The others include Six Flags Over Texas, Hurricane Harbor, and the Texas Rangers baseball team. With the new “Texas Live!” dining and entertainment venue, we may now have the Big Five. Arlington’s Entertainment District is vital to the city’s tourism industry. 

Entertainment District sign

Early settlers to the area would never have imagined that an enormous stadium would someday host more than 100,000 people watching a sporting event. But it happened. While the Super Bowl hasn’t returned to Arlington yet, maybe someday it will. Until then, it remains one of the biggest things to ever happen to this city. During that cold week of February 2011, Arlington was center stage for the world to see. “I gotta feeling” — yes, that’s a cheesy Black Eyed Peas song reference — there are even better things coming.

Super Bowl XLV – highlights

  • Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
    • Green Bay won 31-25 for its 4th Super Bowl Championship
    • Aaron Rodgers (24/39 for 304 yards, 3 TDs, 111.5 Rating) was the game’s MVP
  • Host: Cowboys Stadium | Arlington, Texas
  • Attendance: 103,219; average TV estimate 111 million
  • National Anthem: Christina Aguilera
  • Halftime Show: The Black Eyed Peas (featuring Usher and Slash)


Wikipedia, “Super Bowl XLV.” Accessed February 3, 2021.

Wikipedia, “AT&T Stadium.” Accessed February 3, 2021.


NFL. “Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs. Packers highlights,” February 5, 2015. YouTube. Accessed February 3, 2021.

BBellidos. “Super Bowl XLV 2011 – Halftime Show – Black Eyed Peas [HD][Full],” February 6, 2011. YouTube. Accessed February 3, 2021.

darthvadercommercial. “Volkswagen-Darth Vader 2011 Super Bowl Commercial,” February 7, 2011. YouTube. Accessed February 3, 2021.

Post and photos by Jason S. Sullivan, 02-05-21

Go Cowboys!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s