With the college football playoffs here and the Cowboys fresh off of hosting their second ever playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, this seemed like a perfect time to share my thoughts and experiences about the sports paradise that is North Texas. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Final Four at AT&T Stadium last year, and with the stadium hosting seemingly every major American sporting event at some point in the recent past or near future, all die-hard sports fan owe it to themselves to make the pilgrimage to the this new mecca of American sports.
By Lewis Krell
It all started with a perfect plan. I won’t go into this perfect plan, but I will let you know that it involved a Naval Officer stationed in Italy, two former best friends reuniting again at last, an orthodox Jewish rapper/slam poet, a bar called Redneck Paradise, a Canadian Wind Power Magnate, my beloved Arizona Wildcats, and far too much Fireball. And then that rat Frank Kaminsky went and ruined the perfect plan. But this post is not about any of those things. This article is instead about my trip to Dallas for the Final Four last March and it is also a plea to all sports fans to attend an event at AT&T Stadium.
‘A billion dollars well spent’
That was my first thought as I walked around the outside of AT&T Stadium a few minutes before tip-off of the Florida-Connecticut game. My next thought was followed by a string of profanity as I looked up in awe at the sheer size of this remarkable stadium when you actually step inside. It truly is an overwhelming structure, and trust me, you don’t know what a 90 foot screen is like until you are staring directly at a 90 foot screen. We walked around the stadium and began our ascent to our seats. Usually the word ascent is used too liberally but this truly felt like climbing K2. We nestled into our seats, roughly four rows from the very top of the stadium, and we got ready to watch some live basketball. On a screen.
The screen is bigger than the court. It’s nuts.
What they say is true, if you have bad seats at JerryWorld you will end up watching a good portion of the game on the screen. What isn’t true is that this is a bad experience. The screen is beautiful. Sharp and crystal clear and enormous, I didn’t mind watching the screen one bit. You can still absolutely see the court and watch the game itself but you are seeing a bird’s eye view of a sporting event, not the sporting event itself. If you want to sit way at the top, but still see the player’s reactions and all the little nuisances that make basketball so wonderful, you have no choice but to look at the screen. To me, in this age of competing against the home viewing experience, transporting some of the home viewing experience to a stadium doesn’t strike me as a terrible idea. In a weird way, it is a best of both worlds situation. I get to hear the roar of the crowd and feel the electric energy in the stadium, and I still get to see replays and catch minute details that usually only the viewing audience at home catches on to. Of course I would rather sit lower and have better seats but unlike most every stadium in the world, at Cowboys stadium, being in the nosebleeds still comes with a great view.
Now before I rave too much about the nosebleeds, I must say that one of the biggest benefits of us being perched high above everyone else was that it made it easy to identify open seats. The 2014 Final Four set an attendance record as 79,444 paying customers were in the house that night including Drake, Johnny Manziel, Dwight Howard and many other famous people that all got heartily booed. However, JerryWorld can seat 90,000+ people so there was still over 10,000 open seats in the house. As we sat through a boring UConn-Florida game we locked our eyes on some good seats in the lower bowl and decided to make our move in-between games.
After the first of the two Final Four games there is complete chaos as an entire section clears out of one team’s fans (in this instance, a relatively pitiful amount of UConn fans) and gets filled in by the fans of another team awaiting the second game (in this case, the entire state of Kentucky). Because there is nothing else to do in Kentucky but drink bourbon, marry your cousins and watch basketball, I’m not joking when I say that that the entire state was there. So we joined a giant and boisterous crowd of Kentucky fans, hid behind Anthony Davis and his unibrow, and snuck in to the lower bowl.
Ahhhh, that’s better
Remember all that stuff I said about it being not that bad in the stratosphere of AT&T Stadium? I lied. If you are coming to Dallas I recommend you splurge a little and sit in the lower bowl. I enjoyed myself up top, but wow, life is good closer to the action. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Kentucky-Wisconsin game was one of the best Final Four games in history, but regardless, the noise and the mass of the stadium gets more and more impressive as you get closer to the ground floor. As a side note, what was also impressive was the sheer number of tall people in the stadium. I think 90% of Americans above 6’11 attend the Final Four. Obviously most of them were there because of their connection to the sport of basketball, but I like to think they also feel drawn to the stadium because it’s the first time they have ever felt miniature in their lives.
I won’t go into great detail about the Kentucky-Wisconsin game but I will remember that instant classic for the rest of my life. The fact that the game was so good eased the pain of my perfect plan going wrong and I also got to check ‘attending the Final Four’ and ‘visit one of the most impressive stadiums on Earth’ off of my bucket list at the same time. As a sports fan I think you owe it to yourself to take a trip to Dallas and get to a game at AT&T Stadium. And as much fun as I had at the Final Four, I did spend a lot of time thinking about how great the stadium must be when it is serving its main purpose, hosting a Dallas Cowboys football game. I suppose the College Football Playoffs or the Super Bowl would both be pretty good shows as well that I encourage you to check out. I promise Chris Christie won’t touch you too much during the game.