Monday, October 26, 2009

A Report From Cowboys Stadium

Special Stuff Running 'Round My Head correspondent Craig K. reports from his first visit to Cowboys Stadium:

1. I don’t think I have ever been to a sports event where the car traffic flows were so well managed. I played golf before the game and figured we would get there late, leaving the course at 2:15 for a 3:15 game 20 miles away. Was in my seat by 2:55.

2. The Stadium is HUGE! You can see it for miles away and it is this big, gleaming glass structure.

3. The SRO areas are really not too bad, and I would guess there were 10,000 to 15,000 standing in 6 areas.

4. Okay, the key observation is (and I hate to admit it) that this is really a fantastic place to watch a football game. The seats are comfortable, not too squished together. The steepness of the stands makes for great sight lines and makes all seats surprisingly close to the action.

5. I think the best way to think of it is like a double-sized basketball arena. Steep vertically like the newer arenas are and sounds similarly loud when fans get into the game. The roof and sides were closed because of the possibility of thunderstorms, so that may have made it seem more that way than it would if it were open.

6. The video board is absolutely, freaking awesome. I was determined to hate the intrusion of a big TV interrupting my football game, but in fact, after I got over the novelty distraction of it, I came to the conclusion that it simply improved the experience. In this case, the attached picture does this justice. In the photo, looking at the field you can see the Cowboy offense and Falcon defense huddling and if you look toward the Dallas sideline, you can see the kick return team guys leaving the field around the 25 yard line. If you then look to the screen, you can see those same players clearly. After a quarter or so of experimenting with different viewing strategies, here is how I concluded I could maximize the experience. I watch the field at the snap of the ball and if it is a pass play, I keep my eyes there. That way, you can see the whole field and see the receivers coming open, etc. If it is a running play, I switched my eyes up about 10 degrees and watched the big screen. Since the cameras are at the line of scrimmage, it was much easier to follow the runner, rather than from my end zone corner seats. Then, of course, you get the replay afterward and I can’t emphasize this enough, the picture is HD clear and great to watch. And, there are no announcers to distract you. Sometimes, traditional is not actually better and technology can improve things.

7. My only knock on the stadium is that it felt a bit sterile. Maybe it was due to it being closed rather than open, but it felt too clean, too perfect. But, when the place got loud, that feeling did dissipate some.

8. One other weird observation, it is strange they oriented the field east/west. It did bring the sun into play through the end windows (those same windows open like a folding closet door if the weather permits) later in the game. You can see some shadows in the picture on the field through the window at right. I can’t think of a reason not to have oriented it north/south.
(photo by Craig K.)

Jeff now speaking:
I'm going to have to give some thought to #6. There's still something about the whole enterprise that just doesn't feel right to me. But at the same time, when I attend a live sporting events there are plenty of times when I wish could watch a replay. So, maybe I'm just being stubborn because I hate the Cowboys so much. Although I have to admit it's hard to work up much passion about this version, with T.O. gone and all.

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