Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming soon, in Your Face! COWBOYS STADIUM! [J. Mark English]

Sunday night, the team that America either hates or loves will be treated to the sights of the new wonder of the world. Cowboys Stadium.

The Giants will play the roll of sacrificial lamb, like early Christians in the Roman Colosseum in the good old days.

These photos are from Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency:

Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times highlights this new 'mecca' or 'monstrosity':

Here’s one thing that can be said for the new Cowboys Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys will play their first home game of the regular season on Sunday against the Giants: it’s not Mickey Mouse architecture.

With a $1.15 billion price tag and a flying saucer-like form, the stadium’s design mercifully avoids the aw-shucks, small-town look that has become common in many American stadiums over the years. There’s no brick cladding, no fake wrought ironwork, no infantilizing theme restaurants that seem as if they had been commissioned by Uncle Walt for the Happiest Place on Earth.

Still, Cowboys Stadium suffers from its own form of nostalgia: its enormous retractable roof, acres of parking and cavernous interiors are straight out of Eisenhower’s America, with its embrace of car culture and a grandiose, bigger-is-better mentality. The result is a somewhat crude reworking of old ideas, one that looks especially unoriginal when compared with the sophisticated and often dazzling stadiums that have been built in Europe and the Far East over the last few years. Worse for fans, its lounges and concourses are so sprawling that I suspect more than a few spectators will get lost and miss the second-half kickoff.

At one point, it looked as if the stadium might be built in a more contained urban setting. Jerry Jones, the team’s owner, considered situating it in Fair Park, a 277-acre park near downtown Dallas whose many Art Deco buildings, including the Cotton Bowl, were built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. That location would not only have contributed to the revival of the park’s derelict landmarks, but it would also have helped spark the revitalization of one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

But the city rejected the plan as too costly, and Jones was forced to look farther afield, eventually settling on a generic suburban enclave midway between Dallas and Fort Worth, not far from the ballpark where the Texas Rangers play.

Compared with the retro brick facing and quaint castle towers of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Cowboys Stadium, designed by HKS, which has its headquarters in Dallas, does have a certain boldness. Approached from Interstate 30, its massive dome brings to mind the simple geometries and aggressive modern aesthetic of Houston’s Astrodome and the Louisiana Superdome....

...At first, things seem more promising inside. Monumental concrete staircases and circulation ramps are situated near the four corners of the field. The ramps, which are some of the building’s most enjoyable architectural spaces, look broad enough to fit a pair of Cadillacs. Jones has also commissioned more than a dozen works by well-known contemporary artists for the stadium interiors, including a spectacularly colorful abstract composition by Franz Ackermann that decorates one of the staircases. But the vastness of the concourses, some of them 65 feet wide, can make you feel as if you are lost in an international airport terminal. And, as in almost every American stadium today, the seats are broken up by bands of glass-encased corporate suites. The glass can slide open so that wealthy patrons can feel connected to the action on the field — if not to the average fan. Some of the suites even take up prime real estate along the sidelines, a first for the N.F.L.

As it turns out, the biggest controversy so far about the stadium has to do with its supersize scale. The four-sided video board over the field is so big, and hangs so low, that a Tennessee punter hit it during a preseason game. It’s a nice irony that for all the space, there may not be enough room at Cowboys Stadium to play a game.

This morning on the Today Show, former Cowboy, Emmitt Smith gave a tour of the new stadium:

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