Even when you don’t see Dallas Cowboys owner and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Jones, you see his work.
Not just the team.
You see the venues.
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And just when you thought Jones had reached the pinnacle of state-of-the art structures, he added The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco in 2016.
The $1.2 billion, 3-million-square-foot AT&T Stadium, designed by HKS Architects, features two huge arches and of course its enormous, center-hung video board that is 90 feet above the field and stretches between the 20-yard lines.
“This is Jerry’s dream. He wanted to make sure from the very start that this new facility, new stadium would be grand, contemporary, that people would know the structure immediately. He wanted it to be a place where multiple sports were played not only on the professional level, but all levels, including high schools,” said Jack Hill, the renowned builder who spearheaded the construction of AT&T Stadium. “He instructed us from the very start, in the designing and the construction, that that is what he wanted to do. He didn’t cut a corner. He was involved, almost on a daily basis, all the way through the project.”
It’s clearly more than a football venue.
Super Bowl XLV was played in Arlington. AT&T Stadium has also hosted the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four, NCAA Women’s Final Four, CONCACAF soccer, concerts, rodeos, motocross and even the ultra-popular Wrestlemania.
“Jerry had a vision and was very articulate in explaining his vision to us. We knew as a team — designers, engineers and contractors — that this is going to be a very special building, but it was also going to be a monumental task,” Hill said. “We put together a team that is the best in the business to pull this off.”
That team included Manhattan Construction, Walter P. Moore engineers and others. As a result, a monument of sorts was erected that included canted glass walls, a retractable roof, massive retractable glass end-zone doors and more than 300 suites.
The art collection inside, along with the sky mirror outside, are just a few of the many captivating qualities of AT&T Stadium.
But it is the arches, which span a quarter of a mile and reach more than 300 feet above the field and the center-hung video board, that create pause.
“The arches are phenomenal. As a result of the arches, that allowed us to do something that is very unique and that was to allow us to put one of the star attractions, the center-hung video board,” said Hill, who is currently working on the new retractable-roof stadium for the Texas Rangers, which is set to open in 2020. “People do ask about the arch and it seems like right behind that, and as a result of the arches, they ask about the center-hung video board. AT&T Stadium has so many features that I think that is what attracts so many people to it.”
As for Hill, he said it’s very difficult to point out his favorite aspect of the stadium.
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“This is like picking out the favorite parts of your child. I love the retractable roof. I love the openness and the ceiling of the stadium even though it has a roof that closes,” Hill said. “One feature which the designers want the fans to experience was the feeling of openness even though they are sitting in an enclosed structure. There is a lot of natural light that comes in there.”
The Cowboys set an NFL attendance record of 105,121 in their first regular-season game at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 20, 2009, against the New York Giants.
But Jones didn’t stop there.
His next project took him to Frisco.
The Star, which was built in partnership with the city of Frisco and Frisco school district, includes the 12,000-seat Ford Center and the team’s headquarters as part of a 91-acre mixed use development. It opened in 2016. The $1.5 billion project is part of the “$5 Billion Mile” of four mixed-use developments.
Because The Star is part of a mixed-use development, the Cowboys worked with an expanded team of Manhattan Construction, Gensler, O’Brien Architects, ICRAVE, Advent Design Corporation, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Walker P. Moore and Henderson Engineers Inc.
“During the design, Jerry challenged Gensler with how to elevate the No. 1 most valuable sports franchise in the world. The Star in Frisco is unique, but not in a kitschy way that features the blue star at every turn,” said Scott Armstrong, Gensler’s co-project manager of The Star. “The subtle, elegant design of The Star and the Cowboys World Headquarters illuminates their strongly established brand in a sophisticated way.”
“Jerry Jones has really given fans a first-class experience with The Star. He has always understood that it’s not just about the buildings, it’s about designing experience,” said Paul Manno of Gensler. “He has really elevated the architecture of sports.”
Other features at The Star include a high-tech war room, fitness club, Ring of Honor, exclusive, members-only Cowboys club, and more.
Lately, the retail part of the development has increased with plans for the Omni Frisco Hotel and the Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research facility.
But it’s the football aspect, including two outdoor practice fields, that captures the imagination.
“Other NFL teams are trying to get up to that level of architectural design. But people will look to The Star as the best in class, the showpiece in what can be done in the sports industry,” said Armstrong. “I don’t know if anyone will quite be able to put together what Jerry has with the mixed-use environment, hotel, and the schools involved. He was a visionary — very forward-thinking for a lot of owners.”
One common goal of AT&T Stadium and The Star was to get high school and amateur sports involved in the venues.
The Cowboys have done that and more, hosting high school state title games and college games at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys have hosted high school playoff games and regular-season games in Frisco in the Ford Center. Texas Tech recently held a spring game at The Star and it was the host site for the Big 12 Conference media days earlier this month.
“It gave the Cowboys an opportunity to join at the hip, tangibly at the hip, with high school football and amateur football. Our practice fields, particularly the inside facilities, is where Frisco high schools play their games. Literally, you can have a high school quarterback, on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, [who] can see and have a conversation with Dak Prescott walking off the field,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “It’s an example of how professional football can be a great facilitator to the success of amateur sports.
“Football is the king of sports in this part of the world. Texas,” Jones said.
There is at least one structure that bears Jerry Jones’ name.
The 55,000-square-foot Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center is on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. It has 37 tutor rooms, 20 offices for staff and academic counselors and a 138-seat auditorium.
When Jerry Jones puts his stamp on something, it’s always a big deal.
AT&T Stadium by the numbers
1.2 _ The cost, $1.2 billion, to build the stadium
3 _ The stadium covers 3 milion square feet
86 _ Canted glass exterior wall is 86 feet high
90 _ Center video board is 90 feet avove the field.
256 _ When open, the retractable roof is 256 feet wide and 410 feet long
3,000 _ There are approximately 3,000 televisions in the building
105,121 _ NFL record attendance for first regular-season Cowboys game in 2009
Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule
Thursday vs. Arizona (NBC)* 7 p.m.
Aug. 12 at Los Angeles Rams (NFL Network) 8 p.m.
Aug. 19 vs. Indianapolis (NFL Network) 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Oakland 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Houston 7 p.m.
* Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio
Sept. 10 vs. New York Giants (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Denver (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Arizona (ESPN) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams (KDFW/4) Noon
Oct. 8 vs. Green Bay (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Oct. 15 Bye
Oct. 22 at San Francisco (KDFW/4) 3:05 p.m.
Oct. 29 at Washington (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 5 vs. Kansas City (KTVT 11) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 12 at Atlanta (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 19 vs. Philadelphia (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. LA Chargers (KTVT/11) 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 vs. Washington (KXAS/5) 7:25 p.m.
Dec. 10 at New York Giants (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 17 at Raiders (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 24 vs. Seattle (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 31 at Philadelphia (KDFW/4) Noon