AT&T Stadium – Dallas Cowboys
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NFL’s Mecca Football Stadium
AT&T Stadium was introduced to the world on May 27, 2009, when country singer and Texas’ own George Strait performed in front of 60,188 fans. A few months later, on September 20th (4 years to the day after ground was broken at the stadium), the Cowboys played their first regular season game versus the New York Giants – the attendance on this historic night was 105,121. Although AT&T Stadium’s listed capacity is 80,000 people, the standing room only areas on the east and west side, referred to as Party Passes ($39), give the facility the potential to hold up to 105,000.
In a short time, AT&T Stadium has become one of the premier stadiums in the world, breaking numerous attendance records. Besides being the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the stadium has hosted events such as Super Bowl XLV, the NBA All-Star game, the NCAA Final Four, the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the UIL Texas state high school football championship, and WrestleMania XXXII.
Food & Beverage 5
AT&T Stadium’s incredible catering is handled by Legends Corporation, which comes through with a few unique items – although the prices are high, the tastes are incredible. Some of these unique dishes are chicken waffle sandwiches, Kobe burgers dressed up with either green Chile or BBQ, catfish po-boy sandwiches, prime rib sandwiches, and Frito pie.
Beside these unique items, AT&T Stadium offers classic food items such as ultimate nachos, jalapeño and cheese sausages, Nathan’s hot dogs, pretzels, refillable popcorn, and peanuts. The venue does cater to a healthier lifestyle as well, with choices including vegetarian black bean burgers, gluten free turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit cups, and whole dill pickles. The venue also serves Pepsi and Dr Pepper products, as you will see from the large Pepsi and Dr Pepper signs on the upper level concourse – you will pay around $6 for a souvenir cup, or $5 for bottled water and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Most of the beer signage tells you that Miller is the sponsor of the Dallas Cowboys, so throughout the stadium Miller Lite and Coors are sold at the price of $9. In addition, Shiner Bock, Dos Equis, MGD 64, and Blue Moon are sold for $9.50. If you have club seats you will have the same variety of beer, along with mixed drinks. The stadium does serve wine in all club bars, including the four upper concourse bars and at the portable beer carts. However, the most popular adult beverage seems to be the Cowboy Rita (a frozen margarita).
The atmosphere at AT&T Stadium is alive and electric, and begins hours before kickoff when the tailgaters enter the parking areas. Since tailgating is limited to designated areas, space is hard to come by, so plan accordingly if you want to participate. But the atmosphere is friendly and festive no matter which team colors you are wearing – the Cowboys provide pre-game entertainment beginning two hours before kickoff, with two stages located at AT&T Plaza (east side of the stadium) and Miller Lite Plaza (west side). The pre-game entertainment features the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the Dallas Cowboys Drum Line along with the Rhythm & Blues Dancers, and portable bars and food trucks.
During pre-game warm-ups you’ll notice fans on the sidelines – these fans have pre-game credentials that the Cowboys offer to suite holders, players’ family members, and to the marketing department for general sale. These fans are removed from the field about 30 minutes prior to kickoff, when the teams return to their locker rooms.
The countdown to kickoff continues with an appearance of Rowdy, the Cowboys mascot, riding a motorcycle down the sideline. The attention then quickly turns to the entrance of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders from the corner tunnels on the west side of the stadium. The cheerleaders take center stage and perform to AC-DC’s Thunderstruck, ending their performance with the dance line performing a jump split. The performers then file into the tunnel at midfield of the Cowboys side, before re-appearing for the Cowboys player introductions. Both teams enter the field at the 50 yard-line through the lower clubs on opposite sides of the field – the north sideline of the stadium is the visitor’s side, while the south side is for the Cowboys.
The game atmosphere itself depends on what is happening on the field, but many people feel that the stadium is so amazingly large that a home field advantage just doesn’t exist – the Cowboys record at home is just a little over .500 since the opening of AT&T Stadium. However, this isn’t from a lack of trying by Cowboys fans. The pure massiveness of this venue makes the fans seem sometimes distant from the playing field, with the fans in the 400 sections being so high up and far away from the playing surface that the incredible video screen is a must if you are sitting in the upper level.
The Cowboys offer Party Passes for every Cowboys game throughout the season. The holders of these passes have access to the east and west platforms of the stadium, which is a standing only type access that gets the holder into the stadium, but without a seat – stadium ushers have been advised to check tickets closely because of the party pass option. Party Pass holders will line up early to enter the stadium as they rush to claim their standing space, as it doesn’t take long for the areas to fill up, leaving some pass holders ending up watching the game on the large video screen.
Overall, the stadium, fans, and the amazing architectural structure, with its retractable roof and doors, provides a good atmosphere to see a game. However, don’t expect to have the roof or the doors open during the game, as they are customarily kept closed due to the Texas weather. The fantastic artwork located throughout the stadium also adds an interesting touch, and brings another reason any sports fan would enjoy their visit to AT&T Stadium. In addition, the facility now has its own mobile app that can provide real-time information during your game day experience.
AT&T Stadium is within reasonable walking distance of the Arlington artery of restaurants on Collins Street – there is no public transportation in the city of Arlington, so there is plenty of foot traffic going to and from the restaurants. The Tailgate Tavern (located on the other side of Walmart) is close to AT&T Stadium, but is highly overpriced, crowded, and has slow service. The better choice is to look on or across Collins Street from the stadium. There you have Fishbone Grill and Airway Burgers, along with many popular fast food and chain restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Wendy’s, Subway, etc.
Another popular area in the neighborhood is Lincoln Square, which is an area of restaurants and shops approximately ¼-mile from AT&T Stadium on the corner of Interstate 30 and Collins Street; Lincoln Square offers Catch-A-Ride if you spend $40 (for example by buying a simple Gift Card), meaning parking will be free and you can ride their shuttle to and from the stadium for $5. However, due to the traffic congestion I would forget the shuttle and make the walk instead.
There is also another good area, close to AT&T Stadium and away from the congestion of Collins Street, which has a couple of restaurants that would be a good pre-game or post game hangout. This area is the old downtown area of Arlington, between E. Abram Street and E. Division St, only a couple of miles from the stadium. In this small area, there are plenty of options, such as Flying Fish, Twisted Root Beer Company, J Gilligan’s Bar and Grill, Babe’s Chicken, and Grease Monkey Burger Shop. There are two local craft breweries to visit here as well; Legal Draft Beer Company and Division Brewing.
AT&T Stadium also neighbors Globe Life Park (home of the Texas Rangers), Six Flags over Texas, and Hurricane Harbor in an area known as the Entertainment District. For lodging, consider a stay at the Sheraton (1500 Convention Center Dr) or Courtyard (1500 Nolan Ryan Expressway).
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the largest fan bases in America, which could be why they consider themselves “America’s Team.” In fact the truth is that the Pittsburgh Steelers were offered the title first from the NFL, but they refused, so the Cowboys gladly accepted, and now market the term to its maximum. Every Cowboys fan seems to have a reason that they “bleed Cowboy blue.” For some, being born and raised in Texas is reason enough, while for others it might be that their hometown doesn’t have an NFL team, but television brought the Cowboys into their homes and hearts.
Cowboys fans are knowledgeable, passionate, and they take every win or loss by their team very personally. But while they are loud, Texas is a state of chivalry, and the Cowboys faithful remain respectful of other teams’ fans. Many fans seem to have traveled to Texas specifically for a Dallas Cowboys home game, because it is on their bucket list and has been a life-long dream. It is truly amazing to witness fans coming from all over the world to AT&T Stadium, just to see the star on the field, and be in the presence of their extended Cowboys family.
AT&T Stadium is located about 20 minutes south of DFW International Airport. Although the facility is in the center point between Dallas and Fort Worth, there is no public transportation to or from Arlington. Therefore, transportation can become a bit expensive – a roundtrip using taxis from either Dallas or Fort Worth can easily cost $100, so using Uber or Lyft is the better choice. However, be prepared to wait at least an hour to be picked up. Taxicab/Uber/Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups are located on the west side of the stadium, off North Collins and Cowboys Way.
The Dallas Cowboys have the highest average parking cost in the NFL at $75 per vehicle, so renting a car isn’t much cheaper. AT&T Stadium owns 15 parking lots with about 12,000 parking stalls, and the Texas Rangers parking lots add another 12,000 spaces, meaning the rest of the parking comes from local businesses, churches, and private homes renting out their lots, and the further away from the stadium you get, the cheaper the cost. The Walmart parking lot is NOT an option, as cars will be towed. Also note that during the early part of the Cowboys schedule, the Rangers are still in season, so on game days when both teams are in action, parking and traffic issues will be multiplied, so be sure to leave yourself additional travel time.
Various nearby hotels in the Arlington area and around DFW airport do provide free or low-cost shuttle service to AT&T Stadium. There are also a couple of hotels within walking distance of the stadium if you can book a room early, most likely as soon as the NFL schedule is released.
There are ten guest entrances into AT&T Stadium, however, I recommend that you enter the stadium at the gate stated on your ticket – the main concourse of the stadium is split in half because of the premier club seating, which may prevent you from walking across to the other side, forcing you to go up to the 400 level, and then back down to the main concourse.
AT&T Stadium has a wide concourse, plenty of concessions stands, two large pro shops on the main concourse, and two smaller shops in the upper level, for Cowboys fans to add souvenirs to their collections. The facility is also a premier venue that is fully ADA accessible. The concourses and restrooms are well kept, and there is plenty of legroom in the seating sections. Note however that the stadium security/gate procedures follow the NFL’s ‘clear bag’ policy, and it’s best to familiarize yourself with these rules ahead of time to avoid unnecessary headaches. You may want to read the policy, as many fans are sent back to their cars for not complying.
Return on Investment 3
Last season the Cowboys had the second highest average ticket price behind the New England Patriots. When you add in the highest average parking in the league, attending a Cowboys game could seem over the top. While there is the availability of the $39 Party Pass to get into the stadium, if you want to see the game this isn’t a good choice – this $39 ticket is standing room only, and keeps fans in the end zone platforms of the stadium. In these two areas, plan on being in an overcrowded place for the entire game – these tickets basically give you the feel of being part of the game, but force you to watch on the big screen.
Nevertheless, the return on investment at AT&T Stadium can be manageable, if plans are made in advance, as ticket prices can vary based on the opponent or date of the game. The phrase, “you get what you pay for” may be the best way to describe the return on investment when attending a Cowboys game here.
AT&T Stadium has several extra elements which help push the overall game day experience over the top. First, the Cowboys do not retire jerseys to honor their past greats, as they have the Ring of Honor – the ring currently has 21 names of legends, and continues to grow. This is a great extra element, to be reminded of past Cowboy greats like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, and Tony Dorsett, among others. There is also a nice statue of Tom Landry near the ticket booth and pro shop.
The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders also deserve a mention as one of the most prolific cheerleading organizations in any sport. These young women are not only beautiful, but are well-educated, hardworking, talented, and are truly great ambassadors for the NFL, visiting local hospitals, supporting charities, and traveling overseas to visit and support U.S. troops through their USO tours.
In addition, the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection inside the venue features 27 different works of art, from various artists, located throughout the stadium. Fans can also enjoy an array of large glossy historic photographs, that can be found throughout the venue, depicting some of the greatest moments in Cowboys history. AT&T Stadium offers four different types of stadium tours – VIP guided, unguided, audio art tour, and guided art tour. The venue also opens for a limited number of days during the season for Rally Days, which offer fans the chance to take a self-guided tour, meet former Cowboys players, take pictures with the Super Bowl trophies, and enjoy appearances from the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
AT&T Stadium has been a leader in providing top notch entertainment year-round, and is becoming the blueprint for other new venues such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. AT&T Stadium continues to impress fans, especially newcomers, as they walk in for the first time.
While the prices are higher than other stadiums around the NFL, a trip to watch a Dallas Cowboys game in the Mecca of sports venues, AT&T Stadium should truly be at the top of a football fan’s bucket list.
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