Strait to headline stadium's first event

Updated: February 17, 2009, 7:49 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Since Elvis Presley and The Beatles aren't available, Jerry Jones had to settle for the guy who's sold the third-most albums to headline the opening of the Dallas Cowboys' new $1.1 billion stadium.

Country music star George Strait will have the honors on June 6, topping a bill that will also include Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton and Julianne Hough from "Dancing With the Stars."

"I have a lot of great memories from playing the many shows we did at the old Cowboys stadium, as well as watching America's Team win their share of Super Bowls. I'm very excited about having the opportunity to be the first concert ever in the magnificent new Cowboys stadium," Strait said in a recorded message played Tuesday at the news conference announcing the show.

Strait added that he's excited to be performing with McEntire.

"Our paths have passed many times at many different places, but the opportunity to do a show together like this has never presented itself," he said. "It's something I've looked forward to for a long, long time."

The opening of this stadium would be a huge deal regardless of the entertainment.

Jones' palace, funded mostly with his own money, features a sleek retractable roof, seating capacity of 100,000 for football, 300 luxury suites and the largest HD video board ever built -- two of them, actually.

The stadium has already secured the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the 2011 Super Bowl and the 2014 NCAA men's Final Four. It will also be home to college football's Cotton Bowl.

How many seats will be available for the Strait concert? That's still being determined based on how the stage is configured. But Jones said the floor alone might hold as many as 20,000.

"We'll have all the capacity we need," he said, laughing.

The first football game at the new stadium will be a Cowboys preseason game. Jones said Dallas will play both its home preseason games at the new place, although the league hasn't set the date or opponent yet. The first game that counts will be a college game, between Oklahoma and Brigham Young on Labor Day.

Jones said there also might be a futbol game played in the stadium this summer -- an international soccer game likely to pit high-profile teams.

As for the name of the stadium, Jones said to keep calling it the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. He hasn't sold naming rights yet and isn't sure when he will. He's been negotiating exclusively with one company since December but indicated the spiraling economy has cooled those talks.

The economy doesn't seem to be hurting ticket sales.

Jones said the Cowboys have sold 273 of the suites and about 85 percent of all seats.

The news conference was held in an office on the fringe of the stadium property. Workers were busy inside and outside the massive new facility; it covers 3 million square feet, making it "the largest [sports] building ever built on the planet," Jones said.

So, when will it be finished?

"June 6," joked Charlotte Jones Anderson, Jones' daughter and a team vice president.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press