If you know anything about Jerry Jones, you know that he is proud of his new stadium. Very proud. It's like 50-million ton child he personally gave birth to. He shows it off to friends and well-wishers. He gives you updates on how it's doing even if you didn't ask. I suspect he also posts photos of himself breast-feeding the stadium on his Facebook page. It's his pride and joy, and he spent some time with the lofty Peter King to explain just how much his little stadium is prospering, thanks to his endless nurturing:
"Our goal is two million visitors in a year,'' Jones says of his new all-sports facility in Arlington, which sits between Dallas and Fort Worth. "This year we've got a good chance to have more people tour the stadium than actually attend our games. I think we'll hit 800,000 visitors.''
That's 800,000 people making the trip to Arlington to walk around an empty stadium. A nice stadium, to be certain, but an empty one.
"Seven percent of all NFL fans have been inside a stadium,'' Jones says. "This gives them the chance to see what they've been watching on TV. One of the reasons I built this stadium is so Al Michaels would talk about it on TV. And so people would want to come to see it. They want to see the big screen; the screen is the star of the show, and the content on the screen. Today, they get to see us practice. They get to see where we come out, and get to see all the art.''
You could spend a week raging at Jones for saying he "built" this stadium when the taxpayers of Arlington helped foot a large portion of the bill. But there is a certain grudging admiration I have for the Double J when it comes to what he's accomplished with Cowboys Stadium. The laments over the current state of American stadium architecture are quire prevalent these days, and with good reason. Teams are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on stadiums that end up being glorified strip malls that have little to no value as cultural landmarks. Jerryworld, for all its horrifying excess and social stratification (not to mention its already rich history of angering ticketholders), is at least an attempt to be a stadium that's more than that.
And with people intrigued by the stadium itself as an attraction, even without football, Jones' vision for it is coming to fruition. I don't know what it says about people making a pilgrimage to a stadium simply to stare at a giant TV. It makes for a terrifically easy indictment of Americans. But it IS a really nice screen, and it's a really big stadium, and people are interested in it, which is more than you can say about most stadiums these days.