Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How 'Bout Them Cowboys!

When we are on the road, our days are very full. Let's face it -- these are business trips, not vacations. And by the end of the day on Friday or Saturday, often we barely have enough energy to get something to eat and then collapse in a hotel room.

But when I can, I like to plan a little "me" time -- something special that I can look forward to. That will often involve sports. Over the years, I have been to major league baseball games in most of the eastern cities and a few of the western ones. But I have never gone to an NFL game on the road -- I'm always working when they're being played. Until last Saturday . . .

A week ago Sunday, I was watching the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles play their final regular season game. The winner was going to host a playoff game the following weekend. It soon became obvious that the Cowboys were going to win, and that playoff game could get in the way of our show in Grapevine. Of the four possible timeslots, the one that worked best for us from a business standpoint was Saturday night -- plenty of time for customers to come to the show, and still get home or to the stadium for the game. And that was the time the NFL chose.

The next morning, it suddenly hit me that I could go to the game. I got on Ticketmaster and found out tickets were going on sale at 10:00 CST. And by 10:05, I had a seat up in the rafters for less than $100. I had seen pictures of the stadium and the huge video boards -- what better place to see them than way up high? And I had seen the outside from a distance when I went to a Rangers' game back in July.

I went into logistics mode -- show ends at 5:00, game starts at 7:00, parking is going to be outrageously expensive and I'm driving a box truck. So I took a shuttle from the hotel out to the airport on Saturday morning and rented a little Hyundai for $25. As soon as the show ended, I was on the road. The traffic was easy -- I left the Grapevine Convention Center at 5:10, and was parked near Rangers' Ballpark and on my way to Cowboys' Stadium by 5:45.

This was my first view. It's much more impressive at night when it's all lit up. Looks a little spaceshippy in the daytime.

The closer you get, the more impressive it gets. I told a friend that Jerry Jones (the Cowboys' owner) has an ego as big as Texas, and this stadium is proof.

They were showing the Bengals/Jets playoff game on huge video boards at the entrances, and on TVs all over the stadium. So everywhere I looked, I could watch Cincinnati crash and burn.

This was my first view when I walked inside. Most of the people in front of me had tickets for one of the "party decks" -- standing room tickets. Only a handful would actually be able to see the field -- the rest would watch on one of the "small" video boards. I was glad to have a seat where I could see the field.

Of course, a lot of people had much better seats than I did. These people were on one of the club levels I passed on my way to the upper deck.

Even the drink cups were "over the top" -- a hologram with day and night views of the stadium.

This was the view from my seat. For the record, the big video boards are even more impressive in person -- they are more than 60 yards long and crystal clear. And they're high enough that they show the action live without distracting the players. I enjoyed watching the plays unfold on the field and then watching the replays.

And I wasn't all the way to the top -- all of these people were behind me . . .

But what do they show on the video boards even more than the game? Yep -- the cheerleaders. Poor girls -- on those HD boards, even the slightest blemish stands out. Of course, I didn't see many . . .

The Cowboys take the field. But the cameras stayed on the cheerleaders until the last possible second.

National Anthem -- the flag was unfurled by members of all four branches of the service. Very impressive . . .

Since the roof was closed (it was 20 degrees outside -- coldest Texas weather in 20 years -- but a toasty 70 degrees inside), the blimp couldn't get any shots of the game.

This was the first playoff game in the new stadium. The Cowboys hadn't won a playoff game since after the 1996 season -- second longest streak in professional football (only the Bengals have gone longer). And the locals went home happy -- Dallas 34, Philadelphia 14. Best sign I saw all night was in front of a little kid in the stands -- "I have been waiting 13 years for a Cowboys' playoff win -- and I'm only 10 years old."


  1. Not a big Cowboy fan; I grew up in DC :), but you got some great pictures of the stadium! That is indeed impressive.

  2. where are the pictures of you at the stadium?