Super Bowl 45 will be played Sunday in a $1.2 billion football shrine built by Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. The 2011 Super Bowl location has been known since May of 2007, when the NFL was sold on the idea of the stadium, which hadn't even been built yet, by ex-Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach - acting as Jerry Jones' front-man.
Since the day Jerry Jones got the news that his sports venue would be the location for Super Bowl 45, he dreamed of the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Super Bowl while simultaneously playing in it. Such hubris received the ultimate smackdown when the Cowboys stumbled out of the gate in 2010, dooming any thoughts of fulfilling Jones' plan. Instead, the Super Bowl kickoff at 6:30 PM EST tonight will feature two of the most storied franchises in the NFL - the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.
Those two teams will play a game in a stadium that has pushed the envelope of what a sporting venue can be. Reflecting the personality of its creator, Cowboys Stadium is big, flashy, in-your-face and more expensive than should be allowed. It's also a state-of-the-art facility that impresses even the most jaded of sports personalities - players, coaches, owners and journalists alike.
The dimensions of Cowboys Stadium are staggering. Total square footage: 3 million square feet. The entire Statue of Liberty and its base could fit into the stadium with the roof closed. Interior cubic volume: 104 million cubic feet. Cowboys Stadium is the largest enclosed stadium (in cubic feet) in the NFL. Domed roof: the expansive retractable roof is the largest of its kind in the world and measures approximately 661,000 square feet. Glass retractable door: Each end zone features a five-leaf clear glass retractable door measuring 120 feet high and 180 feet wide, making it the tallest moveable glass wall in the world.
Jerry Jones had hoped to break a Super Bowl record by having the largest crowd ever to watch the contest at the venue. Even though Cowboys Stadium can hold around 93,000 people as currently configured for Super Bowl 45, its likely today's game won't match the 103,985 that watched the Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in 1980. Even if you count the expected 5,000 people who will be watching the game on video screens in a party plaza outside the stadium, which costs $200 a ticket, it should still fall short of breaking that Super Bowl record.
Speaking of video screens, the unbelievably large video board that runs down the center of Cowboys Stadium has become its defining feature. Simply put, it's enormous. The board measures 72 feet tall by 160 feet wide and covers 25,000 square feet. It weighs around 1.2 million pounds. It reportedly contains over 30 million LEDs . It's an assault on the senses.
Early on, it became the first point of controversy for the stadium. The Cowboys opened the stadium with a pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans. The thought of a football hitting the video board during an actual game had crossed the minds of plenty of fans, and it had crossed the Cowboys organization's collective mind. They had calculated what it would take for a punter to hit the board and deemed it unlikely. Cue up Titans' punter A.J. Trapasso, who promptly nailed the board during that pre-season game.
Jerry Jones and the Cowboys accused the Titans' punter of intentionally trying to hit it. The Titans fired back saying that the Cowboys had just miscalculated what it would take to hit the video board. In the end, it might have been the Cowboys who were right since nobody else has ever contacted the video board on a punt or any other kind of play. Regardless, the massive screen hangs 90-feet above the playing field, which is five more feet than the NFL required. After the incident, the NFL ruled that any punt or other play that has the football come in contact with a foreign-object hung above the playing field resulted in a do-over.
It's been around a decade since the idea of the stadium was born. At first, the project was merely to give a make-over to the old Texas Stadium, the Cowboys former home with the hole in the roof. That morphed into a new stadium, originally projected to cost $650 million. Eventually, it became Cowboys Stadium, the $1.2 billion location of Super Bowl 45.
Officially called Cowboys Stadium because Jerry Jones has yet to sell the naming-rights, the massive structure has already taken on nicknames. Wikipedia has collected a list that includes: JerryWorld, JonesTown, the JerryDome, the Jones Mahal, the Death Star, The House that Jerry Built, La Casa de Jerry, and The Palace in Dallas.
Of all the names, JerryWorld is probably the most appropriate. The stadium is, without a doubt, an extension of Jerry Jones' personality. It had to be huge; this is Texas where everything must be bigger. It had to match the personality and ego of its creator, it had to make people take notice whether they wanted to or not.
Whether you love or hate Jerry Jones, JerryWorld is bound to impress. It has set the gold-standard for modern sporting venues. Today, the football universe will settle inside Cowboys Stadium, which has plenty of room to accommodate it.