Cowboys Build For The Future By Honoring The Past
Mickey Spagnola - Email
DallasCowboys.com Columnist
December 12, 2006 7:32 PM
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A rendering of the Cowboys' new stadium, which will be the largest NFL venue ever built.

IRVING, Texas - With the Dallas Cowboys ultra-concerned about their present, leading the NFC East by one game with three to play, they will excitedly look into the future Tuesday night, pulling back the curtain on their new stadium.

Behind Door No. 1 is a futuristic Dallas Cowboys stadium, one with a retractable roof, retractable end-zone plaza doors and an unprecedented two-sided, 60-yard video screen hanging from the rafters that at the same time will pay homage to the franchise's rich history and traditions.

Because when the double roof panels slide open, the top of this 80,000-seat capacity stadium will be a replica of the famed Texas Stadium hole in the roof, a landmark recognized worldwide.

The Ring of Honor will be transferred to the new stadium, too, and this time around, 38 years after Texas Stadium was built here in suburban Dallas, the Cowboys will house their history in a franchise Hall of Fame tucked inside the 2.3 million square-foot structure located in Arlington, Texas, just southwest of Ameriquest Field.

This will be the largest NFL venue ever built, spanning twice the distance of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, with a domed roof structure high enough to house the Statue of Liberty.

"As much as the star on the helmet, the historic Super Bowl rings, the National Red Kettle campaign for The Salvation Army kick off, and the great players themselves, Texas stadium is the Dallas Cowboys," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is projecting a stadium cost approaching $1 billion. "It's a great symbol that has endured over generations of fans - the white roof and the steel that support it, the Ring of Honor.

"So the challenge for us with the new stadium is to innovate, but never forget to acknowledge tradition, and that starts with the familiar hole in the roof. Those night-time aerial shots from the blimp looking down on your favorite team, that's the Dallas Cowboys."

The Cowboys will officially unveil these plans at a private function Tuesday night at the Arlington Convention Center during a 45-minute presentation which will include members of the franchise's Ring of Honor, extensive pictures of what the stadium will look like, a video fly-through of the stadium, a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders performance and reception afterwards, along with a media conference with the Jones family.

This stadium, being designed by HKS and expected to open for the 2009 season, promises to be bigger and better than any other stadium in the NFL, and quite possibly any other stadium in the world. While capacity will be listed at 80,000, there will be room for 90,000 with added seating and standing room only in the end-zone plazas.

And for the biggest of events, the stadium can swell to the seams at 100,000 by utilizing portable seating in those open plaza areas at each end of the stadium.

Even the most casual observers will be able to distinguish how the retractable roof emulates Texas Stadium. There will be two, 63,000-square foot panels that can open and close in 12 minutes, creating a 410-foot by 256-foot opening and preserving some of the rich history of this currently 46-year-old franchise.

Two of the stadium's most unique features will be the center-hung video screen and the end zone plaza glass doors, which also are retractable, adding greatly to the feel of an open-air stadium when the roof is open.

The video screen will hang from the rafters 110 feet above the synthetic turf playing field. And while most stadiums have their gigantic video screens high above the end zones at the end of the stadium, the Cowboys state of the art, two-side video screen will stretch along the sidelines between the 20's.

That's 60 yards of video screen, and for those sitting in the upper reaches of the stadium, looking just across from their seat at this larger-than-life screen might be an even better view than looking down at the actual action on the field. The boards will measure 178 feet wide and 50 feet tall, and the boards facing each end zone of this video cube, will be 48x27.

"At 50 feet in height and weighing 600 tons, makes it the largest in the world," said Jones, who talks excitably when the video screen comes up. "It will give every fan a great seat - better than watching a 60-inch, high-definition television in your living room.

"You will be able to see the players as if you were standing on the sidelines, creating a living, interactive aspect to the building."

This won't be the only video screen bonanza at the stadium. There also will be large media screens located on each side of the stadium's exterior, where fans milling around outside and possibly in the adjacent parking lots tailgating can be fully entertained. The broadcast quality screen above the north and south quadrant entries will provide pre-game and post-game entertainment.

Then there are the end-zone plazas, featuring the largest retractable doors in the world. Each glass-encased end of the stadium will feature a five-leaf retractable opening measuring 120 feet high and 180 feet wide. The five, 38-foot panels will take only 18 minutes to open and close, allowing the Cowboys to convert from basically an enclosed to structure to simulating an open-air stadium.

Also certain to cause arched eyebrows will be the ground-level, sideline and end zone suites, giving fans the unique perspective of watching the game from basically luxurious dugouts along the sidelines, which even means behind the team benches. Only Seattle's Qwest Field has experimented with such suites, but placing those unique suites only in one end zone.

"They will be at field level, right down there among the action where it gets real loud and can get sweaty," Jones points out. "They'll have the same view our players and coaches have as they pace the sidelines. This is a unique element we'll be bringing to our field level."

Other aspects to the stadium will include:

  • Three levels of club seating, totaling 15,000 seats, something Texas Stadium does not have.
  • Five decks of suites, totaling 200 basically private living rooms.
  • Exterior end-zone plazas, creating not only gathering space at the ends of the stadium, but also multi-use room for entertainment, sponsorship platforms and corporate tents.
  • The Ring of Honor ringing the seating facades, with each name back-lit for added distinction, especially during night games.
  • A 17,000-square foot Hall of Fame.
  • A 10,000-square foot Pro Shop.
  • Significantly-increased number of concession stands and restroom fixtures over Texas Stadium.
  • Ramps, stairs, escalators and elevators to transport fans to the stadium's various levels.
  • A number of large, wall-mounted plasma screens located on the terrace level for a continuous viewing opportunity.
  • An ability to continue watching the game from the main concourse level while accessing concession stands and restrooms.
  • Two structural steel arches spanning the entire 1,290-foot length of the stadium - the longest single-span arches in the world - frame the end-zone entry plazas.

There will be no mistaking the Dallas Cowboys new stadium with any other structure, that's for sure.

"The magic, the aura of sports and entertainment is what lights up the inner passion in all things, in all of us," Jones said. "You can't fake it, you can't produce it, you really can't know the result until after the game is played. That emotion, and capturing it, is what this building is all about. This building is about the future, it's about the role of technology in sports, it's about the role of mediums in sports.

"It will be a part of bringing that magic to life."

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