Monday, July 27, 2009

John Young: Big as Texas; no, even bigger

ARLINGTON — I was touring the new Cowboys Stadium here along with Roger Staubach. He was in awe.

Actually, he didn't tell me as much. He didn't tell me anything, to be exact. But, really: Anyone with eyes, ears and spatial acuity would be in awe. Staubach has those.

And Staubach wasn't actually beside me. We media members, completing our tour at field level, noticed him about 40 rows up with Jerry Jones, who with this 80,000-seat stadium bids to become a sporting legend unto himself.

At $1.1 billion, he's built something that would wow anyone short of the general contractor for heaven and Earth. And maybe even the Almighty is rubbing his/her eyes.

Actually, the Supreme Being may be the only Cowboy fan in attendance who'll have a grievance with Jones.

Legend had it that the trademark hole was in the roof at the old Texas Stadium so the Lord could watch his/her favorite team. Whatever.

The new stadium has a hole, too (and a retractable roof.) But a big chunk of God's visibility will be blocked — by the mother of all scoreboards.

OK, "scoreboard" barely does it justice. Picture the United Nations building on its side, suspended over a field of specks in shiny helmets. (If you can't, Stanley Kubrick could.) Yes, it's the world's biggest TV. Actually, make that two. Add the two "mini" screens facing the end zones. It's 600 tons of big. Forty yards of big.

A tour guide says the two phrases you hear a lot at this place are "world's largest" and "spared no expense." Check.

World's largest sliding glass doors. Check. World's largest column-free arena. Check.

World's largest array of digital signage: 3,000 screens. Most luxury suites: 300.

The suites are at several levels, not just the upper reaches as with most stadiums. Fortunate souls in the first-of-their-kind field-level suites at midfield adjoin sprawling lounges for food and drink.

When the Roman gladiators — er, Cowboys — trot out of their sprawling locker room to joust for survival below the giant TV screen, they'll make their way through a velvet-roped Miller Lite Club. Presumably they'll do so without any of them snatching a brew ($7) from the clutches of a season-ticket holder.

Among a dizzying array of events in the months to come — Paul McCartney, U2, Jonas brothers, NBA All-Star Game, the Big 12 championship — Baylor is playing Texas Tech there Nov. 28. Bring money.

NFL's largest pro shop. Check. (Or Visa, or Mastercard). Most accessible toilets in the league. (They're free.)

"A celebratory environment. An aspirational environment."

Bryan Trubey of designing firm HKS is talking not about the toilets but the whole place. It would seem so in either case.

"More than just a stadium," Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels says. Did we mention they spared no expense?

John Young writes for the Waco Tribune-Herald. E-mail:

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