By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Considering that you first see the new Cowboys Stadium looming on the horizon while still a good 20- to 30-minute drive from actually reaching the site of the futuristic coliseum, it shouldn't be a surprise at all that the stadium is, as advertised, pretty goddamn huge.
And yet, even once inside the confines of the property, as you walk up to the venue from any one of its numerous parking lots, it still somehow looms impossibly larger by the step. Then you enter the turnstiles and walk through the stadium's doors and, as if on cue, yes, more of the same sheer amazement—to the point of confusion, actually, as those fortunate enough to have a ticket to the inaugural event at the new Cowboys Stadium couldn't help but spend much of the day glancing upward and outward, jaws agape, with little regard to where their feet were leading them, crowds standing directly in their way be damned.
Yeah, Jerry Jones, we get it: Size matters; everything's bigger in Texas (that joke never got old on Saturday); yadda yadda yadda.
Only, we shouldn't be so dismissive. Because, let's face it: This place is an absolute marvel on every level. The new Cowboys Stadium (nee Jerry World and/or That Huge Freakin' Thing They're Building Out in Arlington That Looks Like a Spaceship) very much impresses from the first time you see it until long after you've left it, conjuring thoughts of space travel and those huge buildings that housed hundreds of thousands in the old SimCity games.
Indeed, everything about the place is so over-the-top—its huge HD television screens, its massive plazas and lobbies, its futuristic design—it's almost comical. And while there will certainly come a point at which such an arena becomes an outdated old relic, that day is a long way off. As such, especially on this, it's opening weekend, any event actually taking place within the stadium is bound to play second fiddle to the room itself.
And third, fourth, and fifth fiddle too, as was the case on this country music-filled afternoon and evening. Lest we forget, there were performances from country stars Lee Ann Womack and Blake Shelton, and country legends Reba McEntire and George Strait, too, at the Cowboys Stadium on Saturday. But to say that they were the brightest stars on the bill would be doing the venue a great disservice. Sure, they were there. And while they entertained capably—Shelton singing the FreeCreditReport.com song was a personal highlight—even they couldn't help but discuss the environment. So it stands to reason: Like a tree falling in the woods when no one's around, did anyone really care if these artists made a sound? Even on a day such as this one?
Turns out, yes. And that seems to be the biggest complaint in the days following the inaugural festivities. In the nether regions of The House That Jerry Jones Built, fans say they had difficulty hearing any of the music that was coming from the stage. A fair complaint absolutely, if a somewhat odd one considering that no one seemed to mind the fact that the performers were just a speck in the distance from their seats.
Seems the big HD screens hanging from the ceiling—which would finally see its sunroof opened after Strait led the crowd in a chant of "Jerry, Open That Roof!" late in the night—helped assuage these concerns. And the four added high-def screens on either side of the stage too. But it raises the question that plagues all stadium shows: How far away from the stage do you have to be before attending a concert at a venue like this is no longer worth it?
Need we remind you, the new Cowboys Stadium is quite large, and the cheapest seats are nowhere near the performers. But here's what the new stadium boasts, and boasts quite well: Some serious, high-end film production to go with those massive screens. Camera operators paced about the stage among its performers, calmly securing intriguing shot after intriguing shot. Cranes swooped in from above the front seats and into the faces of the performers, allowing for grand, sweeping, moving scenes. It all added up to a carefully directed display—a la Austin City Limits, no joke—shown on each of those massive HD screens (the biggest in the world, mind you), which, as we now can tell, are hardly a waste.
So, yes, even with its faults, the new stadium certainly has its overwhelming positives. And, with its opening, we will undoubtedly see a new leaf overturned in the stadium shows booked to play the region.
Not surprising, we're already seeing these repercussions. The next two shows booked to the place—U2 and The Jonas Brothers, not on the same night, thank God—are ones that, last time around, played Superpages.com Center and the American Airlines Center, respectively. Don't cry for the AAC, though, as the Jonases are still making use of it—as their practice facility to warm up for a worldwide tour, which launches at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday, June 20.