Cowboys unveil plans for new stadium

Updated: December 13, 2006, 1:02 AM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys are taking their distinctive hole-in-the-roof design with them to their $1 billion new stadium.

Only this time, the playground will feature a sliding lid to keep the elements out. That's a must considering there's going to be a 60-yard-long, 50-foot-high scoreboard hanging over the football field.

AP Photo/Dallas CowboysThe Cowboys' new $1 billion stadium will feature a 60-yard-long, 50-foot-high scoreboard hanging over the field.

With a glowing, glass facade, humongous sliding doors that can open both ends and 80,000 seats -- 100,000, if necessary -- the Cowboys sure are aiming for the kind of showplace you'd expect from a club that bills itself as "America's Team."

"I'm convinced it's a building that will be a classic when it comes to looking at its design," team owner Jerry Jones boasted following a Tuesday night, Oscars-esque bash where the new design was revealed.

Complete with a red-carpet entrance that actually was the team's shade of blue, the party featured 10 members of the team's Ring of Honor and, of course, a performance by the Cowboys cheerleaders.

Bob Costas was the master of ceremonies and his hyperbole-filled introduction included calling the stadium "the most extraordinary athletic facility ever conceived ... a 21st century, supersonic setting." A video leading to computer-generated shots of the interior referenced the Pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum among other architectural wonders.

The unnamed facility is scheduled to open in 2009. The club already has begun lobbying to host the 2011 Super Bowl, and probably won't have a problem luring more major events if it lives up to its billing as the largest pro sports venue in the country. Final Fours and political conventions already are on the team's wish list.

The Cowboys initially projected the stadium to cost $650 million. In November 2004, Arlington voters agreed to pay for $325 million of it as long as the club paid for any overruns.

The skyrocketing tab is worth every penny to Jones, a former oil wildcatter-turned-billionaire who loves making a splash as much as he loves winning championships.

"No doubt about it, I want our fans to have the pride in a building that is recognized in a quality way," Jones said.

The building plan is certainly impressive, with the glass exterior its most eye-catching feature. Jones said the glass is made to glow blue and silver during the day, then the colors will reverse at night.

"It's basically a changing color scheme, but all within the traditional colors of the Cowboys," he said.

Retractable glass doors on the ends will provide an open-air feeling on days when weather permits. Jones said he expects most games will feature the roof closed but the ends open.

One of the ends is aimed to be a signature "365 entry," meaning it'll be a gathering point every day of the year.

"Really, truly, it is the front door," said Bryan Trubey, principal designer for HKS Architects Sports & Entertainment group. "Jerry and his family insisted on making a civic entryway."

Visible outside each end are two steel arches that run all the way through the playing field, peaking around the hole in the roof 320 feet above the playing field. However, from the inside, they are somewhat obscured by everything else going on.

Start with the gigantic TV screen that stretches between the 20-yard lines. With four sides, it will be visible to fans on both sides and in both end zones. Jones is so excited about the boards that he said "maybe the best seat in the house is up in the areas" closest to them. (There also will be monitors on the outside of the stadium.)

Then there's the next step in luxury suites: Field-level boxes, including an area that also will serve as the team's entry point to the field, letting fans personally wish players good luck before kickoff.

The Cowboys kept the average fan in mind, too, minimizing the distance between fans and the field. Team officials claim the upper deck will be closer to the action than any other NFL stadium. Trubey said it will be "a very compact experience" with "more seats in better positions" than Texas Stadium.

Most of the end-zone area will be standing-room only, but seats could be added. That's how the capacity could jump by 20,000.

The turf will be synthetic.

With so much to cram in, the new stadium will certainly live up to the saying that everything is bigger in Texas. At 2.3 million square feet, it's more than 2½ times the size of Texas Stadium.

The Cowboys raised the bar on facilities -- and ushered in the era of grand privilege for the high-dollar fan -- when Texas Stadium opened in 1971. It featured a then-whopping 176 luxury suites and was paid for through personal bonds, a concept that has since morphed into "personal seat licenses," a cover charge fans must pay to be allowed to buy season tickets.

Texas Stadium's most distinct feature is the strange top, jokingly said to be "so God can watch his team play," but really a result of financial and structural problems.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press