After hearing the horror stories of the Party Pass area at the new Cowboys Stadium, I decided to check it out for myself. Would I be swallowed whole? Would someone mistake my camera case for a urinal? I admit I felt some trepidation after hearing the horror stories of the opening game, when 30,000-plus Party Passes were sold.
I walked from the press box down to the Miller Lite plaza. If you're not sure where that is, look for the platforms with the scantily clad-Battlestar Galactica-redo dancers, also known as the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue.
Unlike the home opener, there was plenty of room to stand. The prime viewing spot for Party Pass-ers is right at the rail. You can clearly see the field and the super-duper jumbotron. In some areas, people were standing three-deep behind the rail, which means you can't really see the field unless you're Dirk Nowitzki. So what was the mood of those who paid $29 to sorta see a Cowboys game at the new stadium?
My first encounter with a Party Pass-er was with Chad from Greenwich, Conn. He had to tell me three times where he came from because it came out as "Grenish, Coneshicu-cup-cut." Fearing I did not pay enough attention to Mr. Baker in geography class, I nervously said, "Grenish? Is that near Antarctica? Arizona? Mineral Wells?" Chad was nice enough to repeat it until I finally got it right.
My next question was to ask him how many beers he'd had. Chad smirked and said "sish." No need for clarification there, Chad. Sish beers by halftime. Congratulations. And at $8 per beer, he was well on his way to spending twice as much on beer as he did on his ticket. I wished him safe travels, and he offered to give me a kish. I immediately responded that I had herpesh.
As I moved on, I found Eugene from Memphis, Tenn. It was his first Cowboys game. I felt confident in talking to Eugene because (A) he was not holding a beer, (B) he was not having difficulty focusing and (C) he was able to pronounce Memphis with an "s."
I asked Eugene if he liked the Party Pass idea, and he said he loved it. He was with three friends and they had already worked out who would hold their spot should nature call.
After spending time with Chad and Eugene, I wondered what the season-ticket holders thought about the Party Pass-ers. I found Debra from Plano who was sitting with her dad. Their seats are on the row right below the standing-room only area. Was she worried someone might accidentally condition her hair with a beer? If someone did spill their nachos on her, was she worried the "cheese" would eat through the fabric of her jersey?
This was Debra's first time to sit in their seats below the Party Pass-ers. She was not worried in the least. She loves the experience of the new stadium with the large crowd, the noise and the family-oriented environment.
I pointed out that there were dancers on platforms right behind her. Would she consider that family-friendly? Debra said she wouldn't be paying much attention to the young ladies on the platforms because she was there to see the game. Then, as women do, we wondered where they hid their cellulite. We wondered about the comfort level in wearing shorts with half your bo-bo sticking out. We wondered why Jerry Jones felt the need to add anything that competes with the iconic Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
I also let her know where Chad was hanging out. I'm not sure he would qualify as family-friendly either. Although, if Debra were looking for a cautionary tale for her kids, Chad would certainly qualify. I also told her to pretend she had herpes if she crossed paths with him.
Listen, as long as the Cowboys aren't insisting on shoving 30,000 people in each end zone, the Party Pass seems to be a huge success. Not everyone can afford to shell out $150-$400 per seat for a Cowboys game. The pass allows everyday people to marvel at the new stadium and experience the excitement of the game. So go. But if you meet someone named Chad from Grenish, ask your friend to hold your place so you can run to the restroom. Or just pretend you have an STD.
Behind the scenes
No doubt about it, I've got a dream job. I cover every Cowboys game, home and away, so there are a few things and a few people I get to encounter that a fan in the stands will miss. Since you paid anywhere from $29 for a Party Pass to $350 for a seat, how about I share? My experience is your experience.
With about five minutes remaining in each game, radio and TV media members usually start making their way to the news conference room. This room is usually located approximately two miles from the press box. So why leave what could potentially be the best part of the game? There's a very glamorous aspect of this job that includes checking batteries, turning on equipment, testing the recording function, testing mics, plugging in your equipment, brushing your hair and applying lip gloss. That's why.
Making my way to the elevator, I spotted former Giants running back Tiki Barber. Do we discuss his career? Do we talk about missing the camaraderie of playing on a team? No, the first thing out of my mouth: Will you be on "Project Runway" again? "No." Does Heidi Klum look like she's had three babies? "No, she looks amazing." Was "Project Runway" the most exciting thing you've ever done in your life? "No." Ding! The elevator arrives. For some reason, Tiki looked relieved.
Once coach Wade Phillips steps onto the podium to address the media, the locker room opens. I was behind a throng of cameramen who rushed through the door and made a bee-line toward an offensive lineman's locker. I couldn't figure out who they wanted to talk to. What about Miles Austin? What about Patrick Crayton? I run around the side and see what the cameramen are filming.
Apparently, Jerry Jones was so pleased with Leonard Davis' performance, Jones was unwrapping his ankle tape and pulling it off. The other linemen were whooping and hollering. Jerry was smiling and laughing.
You know what it looked like? It looked like the bride who sits in a chair and holds her leg out for her new husband to pull the garter off. I'm not saying Davis doesn't make a fetching bride, I just don't see him throwing a bouquet. I see him biting the roses off the stems and beating the hell out of someone, but not throwing it.
The last person I spoke with in the locker room was Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, freshly showered and nicely dressed. I complimented him on his blue suit. What can I say, it brought out his blue eyes.
He thanked me, and then said there was a funny story about where he got the jacket. As I looked closer, I realized it was blue plaid jacket. It could have been a distant cousin of a jacket worn by Gene Rayburn, host of Match Game. Unfortunately, Garrett then added it was a funny but long story. I told him I'd ask him about it on the next road game. And I will.
Kelly Webster is an on-air personality for ESPN 103.3 FM and will continue Living The Dream for ESPNDallas.com.