NFL Stadium #21: AT&T Stadium

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Though I spent the 30th in Salem, MA trying to get my Hocus Pocus on, Halloween night was spent in the Stock Yards of Fort Worth with my friend Kitty and her friend Shaina. I’d been to the Dallas area only once before when I caught a Rangers game in 2012 and was more than delighted to not spend the evening in a crappy hotel in Arlington. Kitty picked me up from the airport and after a quick freshening up we hit the town! The Stock Yards was everything I dreamed Texas was really like. We made our way down the street of bars, catching bits of the World Series game (Kitty is a big sports fan too!) and college football games. I feel like college football doesn’t exist when Ohio State is on a bye, but the TVs showed otherwise. Real cowboys were everywhere and I was all caught up in the splendor of Texas charm. I was dressed as a cow (well I was wearing a hat) and was a little sad no one tried to rope me in!

Sunday was my first 3:30 game of the season and it was nice not getting up early and rushing myself off to the stadium. We brunched and hung out before Kitty dropped me off at the stadium just after noon. AT&T Stadium is kinda, sorta impressive when you roll up to it. It’s a cliché, but everything is bigger in Texas- and better when it comes to football complexes. Jerry Jones did not half a** this place. The rain was starting to come down and despite all the times I’ve said I prefer outdoor football, I had done my hair for this and wasn’t interested in looking like a wet dog when I potentially met the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Yes, I watched their show and yes, I was more excited to see them high kick and do field splits than seeing the actual Dallas Cowboys play football. Sorry guys, priorities. I threw one of my shirts over my head and walked around the stadium towards the media will call, cutting through some of the parking lots. The tailgating wasn’t anything to write home about and I didn’t see any big grills like I had in Houston. Maybe the rain was keeping them at bay or maybe the lot I was in wasn’t popular. I’ve never been much of a tailgater so I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to drink and grill in the rain.

I picked up my pass and once inside I met with my team contact, Joe. He gave me a quick tour around the stadium and decided to stick me in the Miller Lite Club so I could have an experience unique to the stadium. It was certainly a different view than I was used to. The club is under the stands and two separate viewing areas that extend out onto the field behind the Cowboys bench. There’s also the same setup on the visitor’s side, but who would want to be over there?! The novelty of being on the field level is certainly appealing, but I kid you not, you will stare at player’s butts the entire game. As a straight, single female, it wasn’t a bad view, but if you want to watch the game, maybe this club isn’t for you. Or you could look straight up because Jerry has you covered with the largest video board known to man.

Speaking of Jerry (I totally feel like I’d call by his first name to his face), I saw this guy like ten times throughout the course of the game. He was so close at one point, I considered reaching out and touching him to see if I could become rich instantly. It was very tempting, but I wasn’t trying to get kicked out of AT&T Stadium before the game even started. Lots of people seem to hate him, I was relatively indifferent, only acknowledging him as a sports icon, but after visiting the stadium, I’ll throw myself on the Team Jerry side of things. An “over-involved owner” isn’t such a bad thing, think George Steinbrenner. Also, let me tell you a little story about being a fan of a team where the owner doesn’t care, it sucks- see the Browns’ Randy Lerner years. I suppose that might not be the best argument since the Browns don’t seem to change regardless of who owns, manages, coaches, quarterbacks, whatever, but what I’m trying to say is Jerry Jones isn’t the worst.

Maybe I’m so high on him and America’s team is because I was momentarily a Cowboys fan in the mid-90s. Before you compare me to LeBron James, hear me out. Bernie Kosar was my one true professional football player love (an overdramatic term for my favorite player). There was no one before and no one after that will ever compare. When he was released by Cleveland, I was heartbroken and followed him down to Dallas, which was totally cool, he won Super Bowl XXVIII. He was the last person holding the football during that game, so it’s a completely true statement. I do love to tell Cowboys fans that he won the game, not their beloved Troy Aikman. Some people get really mad and it gives me great joy. Settle down, have a laugh, and let me have what might be the closest thing to a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl in my lifetime!

By the start of this game, I had inched my way to almost the front of the viewing area. The Cowboys cheerleaders were out and their opening performance was as glorious as I’d always imagined. When they went down into the splits, my knees ached, but I was a fan for life. I’ve already told all my girlfriends that we’re being Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders next year for Halloween- so start stretching! The girls came over to the team entrance that was conveniently in between the viewing areas and assembled for what was the most elaborate and spectacular team entrance in all of sports. Well in all the sporting events I’ve ever attended, and I feel like that’s a fair amount. The team’s mascot Rowdy (his face gave me the creeps) led out the cheerleaders, guys carrying flags that shot out sparks, and finally the team. As they ran onto the field, steam sprayed and stars set off fire- it was a sensory overload. I could feel the fire and fog from where I was standing. That was a first and gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a player I suppose. My lone critique to the team in all this awesomeness- get cuter guys to be part of the flag crew or whatever you call it. Ladies want eye candy too! If you’re going to make sure the cheerleaders are pretty, there should be standards for the guys as well, that’s just equality 101.

Like I said earlier in this post, I couldn’t see the actual field once the team was assembled along the sideline. I did enjoy observing the players as came on and off the field, though. Watching body language and how they interacted with one another and what had happened on the field during the game was interesting. If I wasn’t where I was, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention, but this field level opportunity afforded a different game experience that was interesting. This was Dez Bryant’s first game back and he was antsy on that sideline. Pacing back and forth, looking frustrated, and he seemed like a loner. Not that any guys were chatting it up, but he barely acknowledged or was acknowledged by teammates. I did manage to get one picture of him talking to some guys for a minute! Brandon Weeden was another guy I spent time staring at because he was a former Brownie and I was feeling sentimental- ha just kidding. He was following the game intently, especially when the team was on offense which made sense. I hope he gets another shot at starting before Tony Romo returns, sorry Matt Cassel.

At halftime, the team added Darren Woodson to their Ring of Honor and the ceremony was up to what I’ll now consider the Dallas Cowboy standard. While they were announcing the other Ring of Honor members a gentleman behind me was so excited to see his favorites, he kept grabbing me and shaking me while screaming with enthusiasm. I honestly don’t remember Woodson, but his acceptance speech was the best of all that I’ve seen this season- he’s very well spoken. After the ceremony, the guy behind me apologized for shaking me and introduced himself. His name was John and he was a huge Cowboys fan (ya think?!). We ended up talking about the team and football during the third quarter. I wanted to explore the stadium a little bit but was nervous that if I left, I wouldn’t be able to get back. John gave me his ticket so I could come back- thanks, homie!

I took off to the main concourse and bought a pretzel to munch on while I walked around. Joe had told me the Cowboys not only had the most expensive ticket in the NFL (not at all surprising), but also the cheapest (say what?!). The standing room tickets were $29, making it affordable for all Cowboy fans to see a game. I think knowing this was the most impressive thing about the organization- making games accessible for everyone. There was a ton of standing room along both end zones on a number of levels. In my walk around the stadium, I didn’t find a bad view of the field, though the upper level was a bit high up.

With less than half the fourth quarter remaining, I returned to the club level and found some standing room behind the first level of seats. This higher view was perfect for watching what I hoped would be a Cowboys win. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had other plans and it was at this point I realized there were a whole lot of 12th man fans in the stands. They had traveled well for this game and were making a ton of noise the final Cowboys drive. Cassel and the offense couldn’t even get into field goal range in what was honestly a lackluster final attempt. Losing by one point is way worse than being blown out I think. I was back down in the Miller Lite Club as the team passed through to their locker room. That was a little depressing.

Joe had told me I’d have to hang tight for a bit while he took care of his post game duties and that worked out perfectly because I had a conference call to jump on. Though I quit my job at the radio station, I am still promoting liquor brands and we had a big event up in Detroit to go over. I plugged in my charger in a corner near the field and took care of business. While on the call I watched some lucky fans play around on the field for an hour after the game. They started to herd us up to leave and Joe came down to get me and walk me out. This was another stadium that doesn’t have great public transportation to and from, so I waited out traffic at the Wal-Mart across the street (and bought some snacks) before catching a cab back to my hotel for the night. I wish I could’ve stayed longer in Dallas and maybe even visited the city proper! Was a short and sweet trip, but one of my favorite stadium experiences for sure.

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Joe for his time and assistance during my visit! 


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