Jerry Jones meets a different kind of press
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys
With the Chiefs on a tear of victories, it’s perfect timing to conjure the possibilities of a Chiefs trip to the Super Bowl, in Jerry Jones’ super stadium.
Texas-size “big” stereotypes fit this two-year old stadium well. The $1.2 billion structure was created to be an “experience.” And it certainly is. It’s the largest column-free room in the world. The Statue of Liberty could fit inside, with headroom to spare under the retractable roof that guarantees year-round events. And the venue seats (and stands) more than 100,000.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met with the National Conference of Editorial Writers members last week during a stadium tour. While editorial writers occasionally weigh in on the public financing aspects of sports venues and the community-building nature of sports, the details of games belong to the sports writing experts. Jones wasted no time in offering the non-sports crowd his best non-sports pitch. He didn’t want to debate whether the national interest in sports is misplaced. “I don’t have time to undo that,” he said. Instead he says he he can help use that interest to accomplish good deeds, including charitable events. And he can make the sports venue an arts space as well.
To that end, he’s assembled a contemporary art collection inside and outside the stadium that’s worthy of a visit on its own. As Jones explained, he wanted to change the football game experience for fans, and he did so with design, art, openness and the biggest video screens above the field ever built. The screens, suspended 90-feet above the field, stretch from one 20-yard line to the other, offering high definition viewing that makes the plays (or performances) vivid from any seat. For Jones, art and sports work together to enhance the visitors’ experiences. As an “art” book about the stadium explains: “Fans talk about games with great passion. Viewers talk about art with equal passion. Both sports and art bring together people from all walks of life to discuss what we cherish, in ways that stir our deepest beliefs and excite us to share them.”
Not your bite, scratch and crawl talk of football days of old. The art, of course, works well for Jones’ bottom line, that is built on far more than football. The stadium includes a massive kitchen and prominent chef, and even its own pastry kitchen, to serve the many private events held throughout the famed football house. And the stadium is busy, with about 300 days of dining events a year. Last week, the kitchen was preparing for 800 diners with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Tours trek through the building daily, and the enclosed roof and air conditioning make it pleasant. Except for the bills. In a typical month, the air conditioning bill hits $500,000. On a busy month, it can hit $1 million. And that’s with advantageous rates from the local power company that supports the team. Art is in; environmental issues not quite so much.
Chiefs fans would have plenty to see and taste, should the winning streak hold. And Jones is ready to entertain in grand Texas style. The only thing small now on Jones’ horizon is the Cowboys’ victory column. They got one, their first, on Sunday.