Cowboys Stadium gets makeover
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cowboys Stadium is not yet 2 years old but the $1.2 billion facility is in the process of getting a makeover for Super Bowl XLV.
When Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones pitched the idea of a new stadium it was with the intent to bring many Super Bowls to North Texas.
"The Super Bowl has got to be as magnificent as it possibly can be and every year it's going to be bigger and better," NFL director of event operations Bill McConnell said. "This is going to be the biggest and best without question."
There will be 15,000 temporary seats, mostly in the end zone plazas, in place for the Feb. 6 kickoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The normally airy spots between the club sections are now covered with seating or broadcast booths.
A final seating capacity won't be established until early next week, when the temporary seats are set and the league is able to determine the quality of the field of view. There will be some obstructed view seats but not many. Plus, the league has sold out 5,000 tickets to the Party Plaza outside the stadium.
The expectation is to set the Super Bowl attendance record when the Packers and Steelers meet. The record of 103,895 was set in Super Bowl XIV between Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 20, 1980 at the Rose Bowl.
Every fan ticketed either inside or outside Cowboys Stadium will count toward the attendance.
"We're going to try to get as many people to experience the Super Bowl as we possibly can," said McConnell, who added the plaza concept could be used at other stadiums in the future.
Extra lighting hangs above the digital board and spotlights hang just below. The lights, however, won't be lower than the league's 90-foot minimum requirement to where a punt could hit it. In two seasons only one punt has hit the board during a game.
Additional concession stands are being built. Some signage has been replaced, although founding stadium sponsors like Miller Lite, Pepsi, AT&T and Ford will maintain their prominent spots.
In a plus for Cowboys fans, names in the team's Ring of Honor will not be covered up.
On Thursday, the grounds crew was painting an end zone Pittsburgh gold, and most of the banners are in place along stadium walls. The Packers end zone is complete. There are eight new pieces of turf : the end zones, two swaths at the 25 for the Super Bowl XLV logo and midfield where the star has been replaced by the NFL logo.
"Once we get a little more traffic on it, it'll be fine," said the NFL's field director, Ed Mangan. "The seams are good right now. They'll be more visual but you won't be able to feel a difference."
Outside the stadium more than 8 miles of fencing have been erected. There is 300,000 square feet of tenting for different compounds and a tailgate party. Domestic and international media compounds have been built.
The work started at 6 a.m. on Jan. 8, hours after LSU beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, and includes some 2,000 workers each day.
"There's stuff happening virtually around the clock to make everything work," McConnell said. "We're taking advantage of every hour of the day and as we get closer it will be more intense."
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.