If there’s one thing the Dallas Cowboys always do is make a splash. For decades they have played at
the signature Texas Stadium in Irving, a venue so well recognized on television with its hole in the roof,
ostensibly so that “God can watch His team.” Despite breaking the mold in terms of suites, luxury
seating and amenities and all the bells and whistles that placed the Cowboys head and shoulders
above the rest, it was time for this franchise as well to think about opulent digs.

The result – Dallas Cowboys Stadium, built at an eye popping cost of $1.15-billion, making it one of the
most dazzling, and expensive, sports stadiums in the entire world.

Getting to the Venue

Located in suburban Arlington, roughly equidistant between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Dallas
Cowboys Stadium is easily accessible off of I-30. It is immediately adjacent to The Ballpark In
Arlington, home of the MLB Texas Rangers, and in fact these two venues share some of their parking
facilities.

There is no public transportation option. Just about the only way to get to the stadium is via automobile.
While parking is plentiful, be prepared to pay a hefty price. Prices start at $40 per vehicle, and rapidly
escalate to $60 as one gets closer to the stadium. The closest lots are reserved for premium seat
holders, and we understand that those lots charge $75 per space.

There is little in the way of private lots or off street parking. There are some lots and streets on the
north side of I-30, but then be prepared for a long walk.

Outside the venue

With plenty of surface lots and little else to do, tailgating was becoming a big institution here with the
Dallas Cowboys. We were somewhat shocked when we visited the old Texas Stadium in 2001, only to
find that substantial local ordinances in Irving prohibited open flames and alcoholic containers, and
that those rules were just being relaxed. That being said, the Cowboys have strict rules about where
tailgating is permitted, and most areas are relegated to grassy areas at the back of lots.

If pregame or postgame grub is your idea, then one can find just about anything to suit ones’ tastes on
the north side of I-30 approximately a mile and a half away from the stadium doors. There are
restaurants galore and many of the marquees can be spotted right off of the interstate.

The stadium and concourses

The architecture of this magnificent structure makes an immediate statement, with its tall arches,
retractable elliptical shaped roof and its bold lines. The first time visitor will immediately be impressed
at its size and scope. There are massive plazas on all four sides of the building, end zone glass walls
which can open or close depending on the elements, and plenty of public space both inside and
outside so that fans can merge seamlessly into the building.

The main entrances into the stadium are via each end zone, with the sideline entrances set up for
premium seats and suites patrons. More on that later.

The most unfortunate part of the concourse layout here is that there is no 360 degree access, save for
the uppermost 500 level. Public concourses here are vertical, with end zone access to all levels, but if
you try to traverse around the building, inevitably you will come across a glass wall and a guarded
doorway, where the Great Unwashed are not allowed to proceed any further. Here more than anyplace
else we have seen, premium seating dominates the building, and those without access make do with
the real estate provided to them.

The corridors here are somewhat bland and sterile, although the public plazas in the end zones are
decorated by some sort of corporate sponsors at each level, giving a little bit of splash and flare to
those areas (giant Pepsi cans in one end zone, and what seems to be an entire Ford car dealership in
the other). Commissioned artwork, murals and sculptures adorn the plazas.The concession stand
canopies are very very cool, basically a collection of side by side HD screens which show photos of the
food, menu and price list, but can easily switch to on the field action or even out of town games.

The Seating Bowl

Make no mistake, the signature element of the seating bowl is the absolutely massive Mitsusbishi
center hung high definition screen, which is the largest in the world and straddles the ceiling from the
20 yard line to the 20 yard line. It is a breathtaking sight, and the pixels can produce an image the
equivalent of 1080p, Beyond that, the seating bowl is broken into five levels, which includes four rings
of suites, and standing room viewing areas in large open air pavilions situated at each end zone.
Standing room tickets are sold without reserved viewing spots, so these areas tend to fill up fast as
soon as the gates open.

Another point to mention here is the dugout suites. These locations are at ground level, but with all the
sideline personnel on the field these are most likely awful spots to actually watch the game on the
field. The upper deck seats offer a great vantage point, and atop the seating bowl natural light filters
into the building with plenty of glass as well as large glass panels in each end zone. Oh yeah, the roof
is retractable as well.

Concessions

The same company that does the food at the new Yankee Stadium is the concessionaire here, and the
boxcar prices definitely match, although the $8 for bottled domestic beer and $6 for a souvenir size
soda pop is slightly less than the Yanks charge. The menu variety here is absolutely stupendous.

Try the Chile Kobe Burger, or the BBQ Burger ($13), or the Nathan’s  Dog ($5.50), or the Truffled Mac
and Cheese ($10) where you can add your own toppings. There are beef fajita tacos, Vegetarian
nachos, cheese steak made Texas style. Just a sampling to add to the traditional fare of pizza, pulled
pork, chicken and cheeseburger sandwiches. But again, be prepared to shell out plenty to eat and
drink here.

Premium Seating

As we mentioned, the entire building is pretty much devoted to premium spaces and club seating. A
ring of dugout suites runs around the ground level, with an event level club area. Same with the main
level, where all sideline 100 seats are club seats, and a “Cowboys Club” occupies the sidelines of the
main concourse. In fact, these club lounges occupy the sidelines at every level of the building except
the upper concourse, and that is where the regular fans can meander around the entire circumference
of the stadium without obstruction.

Banners/Retired Numbers

The vaunted “Ring of Honor” was brought over here from the old Texas Stadium and the names of 17
of the greatest Cowboys are enshrined on the walls in the seating bowl. Unfortunately, they did not do
the same with some of their greatest exhibits. Their Super Bowl trophies and other Cowboys
memorabilia are on display in trailers situated outside the stadium periphery, a cheesy way to pay
homage to the greatest moments of the franchise’s history.

Touchdowns/Extra Points/Fumbles

-Touchdown, to the polite and helpful game day staff. Greeters meet you on the street with seating
charts and offer directions. Security and lines are snappy. No arrogance or attitude whatsoever. The
Cowboys make their guest feel welcome.

-Fumble. $60 to park? Seriously?

-Touchdown, the Cowboys won one of the most boring games we've ever seen on the USRT. A 7-6 win
over their arch rival Redskins with the Cowboys lone TD coming late in the fourth quarter.

-Fumble, 50 years of storied tradition, and the best they could do is stash some of it in some converted
trailer outside the stadium?

-Extra Point, Never has the separation between the high rollers and the masses been so pronounced
as it is at Cowboys Stadium. Walking the circumference of the seating bowl is only possible in the
upper deck. In all other levels fans are cut off by the premium seating areas between the 20 yard lines.

Fumble - ground level suites...directly behind the player's benches. What kind of view of the game
could that possibly give a fan?

Touchdown - that giant video board above the center of the field. A fan can actually see the game by
watching the game there as well as one sees the action on the field.


Summary

Your jaw will drop at the first sighting of Dallas Cowboys Stadium. It is an architectural marvel, by day
and even more so at night when the building is bathed in lights. The roof is retractable. The end zone
walls are retractable. The massive scoreboard will simply take your breath away. Yet as wonderful and
dramatic this stadium is, it also represents everything that is wrong with sports, especially the NFL.
The building is geared  to serve high roller customers. Costs are out of control and totally out of touch
with the average family who can in no away support these prices, beginning with ridiculous parking
fees and no options for other ways to get to the stadium, three figure ticket prices in the nosebleeds,
and ridiculous costs for a simple hot dog and a beverage. Give this pace high marks for the sheer size
and opulence. But in the end, the stadium fails to make it to the absolute elite in the pack of its peer
venues.




SCORING
Architecture: 8.5
Food and team store : 7
Scoreboard and electronics: 10
Ushers: 6.5
Fan support: 7
Location and neighborhood: 5
Banners and history: 7
In game entertainment: 7.5
Concourses/fan comfort: 4
Bonus: Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders 2, Tailgate scene 2, Retractable roof and end zone walls 2,
Scoreboard 1

Total: 69.5
AT&T Stadium
Dallas
Cowboys
Stadium       
                  


Arlington,
Texas




November
22,
2009            
         



Washington
Redskins
at
Dallas
Cowboys