By Tim Fraser As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas. Dallas Cowboys owner and president Jerry Jones is taking that saying quite literally,...

By Tim Fraser

As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas.

Dallas Cowboys owner and president Jerry Jones is taking that saying quite literally, as he and the city of Arlington, TX are in the process of building what will be the NFL’s largest stadium. Scheduled to open before the 2009 NFL season, the stadium promises to give fans an incredible experience, with endless possibilities for the future.

“The challenge for us with this new stadium was to innovate, but at the same time never forget to acknowledge tradition,” Jones said at the December 2006 unveiling of the new stadium design. “This new stadium embodies the spirit of the Dallas Cowboys and that starts with the familiar ‘hole in the roof’. What we have designed is a building we believe is both architecturally significant and also reflects the emotion and competition that goes on inside.”

The ‘hole in the roof’ of Texas Stadium, the current home of the Cowboys, makes that stadium one of the most recognizable in the league. HKS Architects, designers of the new stadium, combined the old with the new by bringing that feature over to the new stadium, while adding a retractable roof to cover the 410 foot long by 256 foot wide opening in the roof.

The most unique and eye catching addition to the new stadium will be a center hung, high definition video board. The board, which stretches 180 feet in length and is 50 feet in height, will hang 110 feet above the playing field. To give each fan the best possible view, the screen will be angled toward the stands.

“It will give every fan a great seat,” Jones said about the video board on the Cowboys team site. “Better then watching a 60-inch, high-definition television in your living room.”

The video board is just one of the many new fan-oriented features that were added to the new stadium, including 200 luxury suites, an interactive Hall of Fame, team pro shop and 286 concession areas throughout the stadium. Many of the amenities will be located in the spacious concourse areas built to give fans room to move comfortably. The main concourse areas also give fans the opportunity to have an unobstructed view of game action while using the stadium’s different services.

Perhaps the most unique addition to the new stadium is two end zone plazas that will feature the world’s largest retractable doors. According to the team web site, each end zone door consists of five glass panel doors that cover a 120×180 foot opening. The end zone plaza and openings will be used for different roles, including the main entry point for fans and for VIP tent areas.

That flexibility allows seating capacity to go from the normal 80,000 to up to 100,000, ideal area for many major sporting events outside of just Cowboys games. The stadium is set to host the Cotton Bowl starting in 2010 and the conference championship game for the Big XII in 2009 and 2010. But, the stadium design and planning was specifically made to be able to host the NFL’s biggest game, the Super Bowl, which it will in 2011.

Not stopping with the Super Bowl, the city of Arlington has also just recently put in a bid to get the men’s NCAA Final Four in the stadium as well. The bid is expected to be for the NCAA Tournament’s championship rounds some point between 2012 and 2016.

The cost for building the stadium is a staggering $1 billion. Built to be as fan friendly of a stadium as there is in the league, it may be the fans that pay the price. The first reports of the new ticket prices revealed that those fans that want priciest club level season tickets will have to pay $340 per ticket. That price is only after buying what the team calls “seat options”, or rights to those seats for the next thirty years, for a fee of $50,000. The less expensive club level seats will still require a seat option which will range from $16,000 to $50,000. Prices for other seats throughout the stadium have yet to be announced.

(The image accompanying this story is from Kohm.org)

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Alfred Branch Jr.