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By Dan Marcec

It’s one of the most recognizable brands in the United States, and possibly the most well-known of its kind in the world. You’ve seen it on television, in the workplace, on t-shirts everywhere and in the hearts and minds of millions. Coca-Cola? McDonald’s? These brands are popular — even ubiquitous — but they don’t hold the sentimental value represented by the Blue Star of America’s Team: the Dallas Cowboys.

As the National Football League (NFL) retains a stronghold on America’s professional athletics market, the Cowboys are possibly the most recognizable sports organization in the U.S. Thus, when the decision came along to build the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium just outside of Dallas in Arlington, Texas, the Cowboys’ organization — led by owner Jerry Jones and his family — and its real estate team were compelled to undertake a careful balancing act in order to develop the largest and most technologically advanced stadium in the NFL while retaining the lasting image of their former home, Texas Stadium, and the rich tradition that the team has enjoyed over its storied history.

In With The New, But Not Out With The Old

A change of pace is always welcome in a changing market, but how will it affect an organization often identified by its iconic image? Texas Stadium’s partially enclosed roof is familiar to both avid and casual sports fans throughout the country. In response, Bryan Trubey, design principal with HKS Architects’ Sports and Entertainment Group (the architect and firm designing the Stadium), explains that researching the Cowboys’ brand, image and tradition were key components in developing the design for the project.

“The Jones family sees the Cowboys as an international brand, so we thought, how does an international brand project itself?” he asks. “Brands all over the world are creating edgy and progressive expressions for themselves, and we wanted to do the same thing: create an advanced, modern stadium.”
Yet, he continues, the Cowboys have so much intangible brand equity; by gauging an appropriate interplay between progressing a design structure and maintaining all the traditional elements possible, the design for the new stadium was born.

Encompassing a vast 2.3 million square feet and filling 104 million cubic feet in volume, the hybrid indoor-outdoor Dallas Cowboys Stadium will be the largest NFL venue ever build. According to the project’s website, the stadium’s scale “measures twice the distance of the St. Louis Gateway Arch,” and “the Statue of Liberty can stand completely inside the roof structure.” When all is said and done, the massive venue will seat 80,000 spectators officially, but the capacity will be expandable to accommodate 100,000 people via standing room space and additional seating in its end zones. The stadium’s expansion will be utilized for special events, such as the Super Bowl, which recently was confirmed to be located at the site on February 6, 2011.

“We’ve created a venue in North Texas capable of hosting almost any event imaginable, which we didn’t have before,” says Brett Daniels, team spokesman for the Cowboys. “Now, the Super Bowl is already locating here, we’re bidding on the Final Four, the Cotton Bowl will relocate here as of 2010, and they want to get into the BCS rotation. We’re now able to draw major events that have bypassed us in the past; now they will have a viable option in our region.”

To enhance fan experience, stadium seating is focused more on the sidelines than in the endzone. “A view from the sideline enhances the fan’s ability to watch the game,” says Daniels. “The additional endzone seating will provide a lot of flexibility in the new stadium; though Pittsburgh’s stadium has been able to do standing room, the way we’ve set up the ancillary space for extra seating is unique to the NFL.”

The new stadium replicates the former Texas Stadium’s roof design, keeping that unique open-air feature. Yet, a new retractable roof allows a complete enclosing, and the 680,000-square-foot domed roof will identify Dallas Cowboys Stadium as the largest domed structure in the world. The technology imparted to the retractable feature is one-of-its-kind as well, utilizing “two bi-parting mechanized roof panels by way of a rack-and-pinion drive system. . . [with the ability] to open or close in 12 minutes,” according to HKS Sports & Entertainment Group and Dallas Cowboys Football Club Design Statement. Furthermore, the endzones also employ retractable doors, 120 feet high by 180 feet wide, which open and close in 18 minutes. The clear glass doors provide panoramic views from both inside and outside the stadium as well as enhanced air circulation throughout the structure.

Holding this phenomenal structure in place are two steel arches that stretch the entire 1,290 feet of the stadium’s length, both of which are visible from the exterior of the stadium. The roof panels move 400 feet along these arches before resting in the open or closed positions, able to transform the stadium from indoor to outdoor as is necessary.

Of course, if not for the loyal fans and Cowboys’ enthusiasts, none of this would be possible, nor would it be viable. Therefore, the organization and its design team took into account what would create the best fan stadium experience they could conceive. Starting with the increased capacity, simply letting in more people to watch their team play live is one thing, and judging from the amenities package offered at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the fans are treated with utmost respect.

As another one-of-a-kind feature to the stadium, a center-hung video board stretches between the two 20-yard lines, measuring 180 feet wide by 50 feet tall facing the sidelines and 48 feet wide by 27 feet tall towards the endzones. Each of the four panels will feature individual video boards, presenting a premium view in the upper deck completely unique to sports spectators. Supplemental 360-degree matrix boards also will stream across the stadium’s interior, and on the exterior façade, large media walls will display pre- and post-game entertainment.

Furthermore, another stand-out characteristic is the stadium’s 200 suites in eight different locations on five separate levels. Each suite contains private restrooms, custom wood, a state-of-the-art technology package, individual climate control, theater-style box seats and fully appointed service areas. Two 59,000-square-foot Main Concourse Clubs feature five full-service bars, accommodations for private or VIP parties, and expansive views of the field. Finally, two 39,000-square-foot Silver Level Clubs also feature full food and bar services, a unique space that highlights the buildings architecture, and direct access from the Silver, Ring of Honor and Star Suites.

“From a fan perspective, the new stadium will provide the greatest place to watch games, a state-of-the-art building, a great tradition and great history carried over from Texas Stadium, and there are a lot of amenities that fans would like that we can provide,” says Daniels.

Putting the Pieces Together

Why now? If for no other reason, the Texas Stadium lease runs out this year, and back in 2000 the organization began seeking new site opportunities. According to Daniels, the cost associated with updating Texas Stadium to the modern technological and physical standards the new venue is going to set was nearly identical to building a com

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