Back in 2002 when I was at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram we first started getting wind that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was toying with the idea of building a new stadium.
"Gather some ideas, solicit some fan feedback and let your imagination run wild," my editor told me at the time. "Let's give readers a picture of what a stadium might look like in the future."
Fun. But fictional.
So how did my vision compare with Jones' reality? Well, I nailed the city (Arlington) - by the way, this is a good read if you've forgotten why the Cowboys aren't in Dallas - got greedy on the price ($2 billion) and the HDTV (200 feet), and whiffed on the name (Tom Landry Stadium).
See for yourself.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
November 22, 2002
STADIUM OF YOUR DREAM: Our Vision for a New Cowboys' Home
By Richie Whitt,
Welcome to ... Jerryassic Park!
I'm Rowdy Ray, virtual tour guide for the Cowboys' new home. Most fans would be satisfied if Jerry Jones just slapped a fresh coat of paint on fabled Texas Stadium. But nooooooooooo, apparently a 13-29 record over 2 1/2 seasons somehow gives this franchise leverage to con cities such as Grapevine, Irving, Las Colinas, Dallas and Arlington into a bidding war to build a new stadium.
So, since America's Team is going to move, why not here? At the North Arlington corner of Collins Road and Green Oaks Boulevard, on the old dump site that has matured into 2,000 acres of prime real estate equi-distance from Fort Worth and Dallas. With the land secured, we welcomed Star-Telegram reader feedback, surveyed fans at Cowboys' home games and allowed our imaginations to run wild on ideas for a new stadium.
Working with a Magic 8-ball, Bob the Builder and a $2 billion budget (never salary-cap your dreams), we've created an environment so good you'll forget that Flozell Adams and Duane Hawthorne are so bad. Watch your step, Jerryassic Park is a pretty big leap into the future.
As we approach the main entrance, let me tell you what you won't find at our Better Ballpark in Arlington. No mascots named Rowdy ridiculously waving off opponents' perfectly good extra points or mascots named Crazy Ray delivering irritating whistles and spraying water from a spigot in his top hat. No traffic jams, no bathroom lines, no bans on coolers, no inclimate weather, no "wave," no "We will rock you!" and absolutely no ice-cold nachos or lukewarm beer.
Interested? Then follow me to Fantasy Football. In Jurassic Park, an ego-maniacal eccentric built a perfect island, only to have his genetically altered dinosaurs go awry. At Jerryassic Park, not even Jones' hideous draft choices can tarnish the perfect environment.
Here it is, located from numerous exits off I-30 or Texas 183. Enter by simply having an electronic scanner read the bar code on your ticket. The price for parking is added to your ticket, signifying the end of the dreaded Blue Parking Pass and the dreaded wait while the wood-panel station wagon in front of you digs in the ashtray for $8. Make a brief stop at the handy Star-Telegram stand and then proceed to any paved parking space. It's first-come, first-served at this Tail Gator's paradise (sponsored by Gator's), with those arriving early getting the choice of a covered space. You might want to park out by our two grass fields perfect for picnics or pickup games. All spaces are equipped with electrical outlets, mini-grills and optional car-wash services. And when it's time for the game, just hop on one of our Silver Bullet TrAAms (sponsored by Coors Light and American Airlines) or take the moving brick sidewalk (sponsored by Acme) directly to your gate.
Next up is our interactive village. Over there is the Cowboys Hotel, where the rooms are bigger than Jerry's Ego and Larry's Allen. Play a round of golf at Cowboys Golf Club. Take a spin in the Cowboys car on the NASCAR track. Or even take the kids to Seven Flags Over Texas. Before heading for the stadium, grab a bite from Angelo's, Railhead or Cowboys Cafe while admiring Big Tex Schramm. The 100-foot statue, conveniently located by a bank of Star-Telegram stands, combines memories with a game-day preview every 15 minutes.
We're now heading to the crown jewel of Jerryassic Park -- Tom Landry Stadium! From the blimp's view, the stadium resembles Texas Stadium. But ours has a huge blue star and a retractable roof with settings of indoor (totally closed), outdoor (totally open) and divine (partially closed with the trademark hole so God can totally watch and possibly intervene in His favorite team's games).
The playing surface, by the way, is equally flexible with options of fake grass, real grass or muddy grass when the racing Rams come to town. Everyone this way, time to be pampered like one of Mark Cuban's Mavericks. Careful not to bump into one of the Star-Telegram stands conveniently located at each gate. We have the usual staples of hot dogs and nachos, but also mini-restaurants from Dairy Queen to On The Border to The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Or pack a cooler full of Red Bull and Sweet Tarts and bring it right to your seat. You'll find men's and women's restrooms adjacent to every entrance and inside, we think you'll like the cup holders and TVs mounted on every stall, urinal and sink.
On the way to your seat, stop in the entrance portal and admire the archway. Projected onto them are classic Cowboys moments such as Drew Pearson's Hail Mary catch, Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run, Emmitt Smith's record-breaking run and Everson Walls making "The Deflection" against the 49ers' Dwight Clark in the '82 NFC Championship Game. OK, so we edited history. But, after all, it is our field of dreams, right?
Look around and you'll find only one luxury suite, belonging to Jerry. Before a big game he'll walk onto that overhanging porch and address his loyal subjects, i.e., season-ticket holders. No luxury suites, but 100,001 luxury seats. Room for a sellout crowd and one seat on the 50 permanently occupied by the statue of Landry in his trademark fedora and rolled-up game plan. Where are the stairs? Good question.
They're gone, out of Cowboys history faster than Micah Knorr. Replaced by escalators. The seats are padded, swiveling, reclining and ergonomic. Feel free to use the cup holders, radio headphone jacks and laptop modem portals. On the back of every seat is a satellite TV monitor. Under your seat is a built-in, slide-out cooler for your favorite beverages. Inside one arm rest is a pair of binoculars; in the other your interactive Fan Box, which you can use to push-button order lunch from a waiter, play Cowboys trivia against other fans or even vote for what Dallas' next play should be. Best of all is your view. You might start out in the end zone, but with our rotating section system each quadrant of seats moves clockwise after each quarter, giving every fan four perspectives by game's end. That explains the minuscule variance in ticket prices. And the seat belts.
Like the 360-degree action ads that circle American Airlines Center, our Living Ring of Honor will scroll highlights, stats and sound bites from Cowboys legends on the 10-foot panel separating seating decks. And at either end of the stadium are our Texas-shaped, 200-foot double-wide flat screen, hi-definition, plasma TVs complete with real-time NFL score updates, updated voting on Fan Box play-calling and rotating ads for Pepsi, Reebok and the friendly folks at the Star-Telegram.
We've thought of everything to make your Cowboys experience as enjoyable as possible. Now if we could just design a product to match our presentation.