Monday, September 7, 2009

First Trip to Jerry Jones' Death Star

Cowboys Stadium
More 2009 Football
Ellen and I joined John and Anne for our first trip to the Dallas Cowboys' new gazillion dollar stadium in Arlington, Texas. The event was a quadruple header of high school football. We stayed only for the first game between Euless Trinity and South Jordan (Utah) Bingham High School. Trinity is a Texas football powerhouse, having won the state championship in 2005 and 2007. Bingham finished second in last year's Utah state playoffs. Bingham's head coach Dave Peck called today's game the "biggest high school football game anyone from Utah has ever participated in."

But let's face it. The stadium is the big attraction. So what's the verdict? Mixed.

Traffic and parking ("only" $10) were wonderful, but only because non-playoff high school football doesn't fill the stadium. But be warned. I-30 is under construction. Parking is limited. For Cowboys' games, the experience is not going to be so wonderful.

The estimated attendance for the first game was 30,000, which may have made for relatively light traffic and parking, but it overwhelmed the ticket windows. They must expect most fans to show up with tickets in hand, which is reasonable for Cowboys' games but not for a high school game. Lines were long. Organization was poor. The windows have permanent signs "Ticket Sales/Will Call" but that was overruled at most windows by hand-written signs saying "Ticket Sells [sic] Only" taped to the windows. A brand new billion dollar stadium and they're already using Magic Marker® pens and copy paper to change the signs. Waiting too long in the wrong line led to more than a little irritation in the crowd.

The concourses are wide and clean. They didn't have enough concession counters open, but maybe because they didn't expect 30,000 fans to attend a high school football game. Maybe for Cowboys' games, the story will be different. On the other hand, the rest rooms were all open and uncrowded.

The seating is tight. If you're six feet tall or more, your knees are likely to hit the seat in front of you ... or the head of the person in the row in front. There are holes in the seat backs suggesting that once present cup holders were removed. That's a good thing or there'd be no room at all.

The scoreboard is both a marvel and a disappointment. It's over fifty yards long and mostly used to show the game, both live action and instant replays from multiple angles, making watching a game in the stadium almost as nice as watching from home. ;-) What's the disappointment? That humongous television screen wasn't used as a scoreboard. Often the screen included an inset box showing the score, down and yards-to-go. But nowhere in the stadium was there a continuous display of this information as well as sometimes critical information like timeouts remaining that even the most basic high school scoreboards have. Game statistics were shown only briefly at halftime. You'd think with a scoreboard that size, showing the score continuously wouldn't be that difficult. At least they could put a regular scoreboard somewhere in that stadium, even if they want to reserve that television screen for showing live action and replays.

Oh, the score for our game? Trinity 42, Bingham 21. Trinity's Tevin Williams was the player of the game, carrying the ball 22 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns. It looks like Trinity is going to have another good year.

More photos from the game can be seen here.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

An architecture review in the NY Times by Nicolai Ouroussoff has this to say about Jerry Jones' Death Star:

"Cowboys Stadium suffers from its own form of nostalgia: its enormous retractable roof, acres of parking and cavernous interiors are straight out of Eisenhower's America, with its embrace of car culture and a grandiose, bigger-is-better mentality. The result is a somewhat crude reworking of old ideas, one that looks especially unoriginal when compared with the sophisticated and often dazzling stadiums that have been built in Europe and the Far East over the last few years."

You can imagine how that raised the hackles of Cowboys' fans.