I had heard good things about the new Cowboys Stadium, and specifically about the tour of Cowboys Stadium. Notice that the name of the venue is simply “Cowboys Stadium”, and not “Quaker Oats Field” or “Match.com Park”. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed this fact by stating that the Cowboys were such a great name already, that they felt that simply “Cowboys Stadium” was a more fitting name. Translation: No company offered any more than a bag of footballs and a half-eaten ham sandwich for the naming rights. But that’s not a shock, as people are cutting back all over. Except people who come to Cowboys Stadium and buy $50 pizzas.
So when my friend (Redskins fan) and his wife came to town from North Carolina, I figured this would be a great time to check out the tour. After all, South Fork Ranch wasn’t getting any more exciting. Last month, a guided tour of the stadium cost $15 for an adult. Which sounds kind of ridiculous considering that you can allegedly watch an actual game at the stadium for $29.95 (parking, concessions, view of the field, loss of your soul: not included). About two weeks ago, I learned that they had raised the rates to $25 for adults and $20 for children. It was at that point that I clutched my chest and exclaimed to Elizabeth that I was coming to join her. What the Cowboys did to me is illegal in most states and some Catholic churches.
As terrible as this news was, I resigned myself to sucking it up and checking the place out with my friends and family. And the family was going to wear our Eagles jerseys to get the most bang for the buck. So we arrived on a Saturday morning around 10:30am or so, and got signed up for the 11:30am tour. Price for adults: $27.50. Price for children: $22.50. In just the last week, the weasels had squeezed another $10 out of me for a family of four. Then again, they did change the name to “VIP tour”, and…well, who doesn’t want to be a VIP?
You have to go into the Pro Shop to get your tickets. It’s really huge (2 levels) and has every piece of merchandise that you could imagine tainted with a Dallas Cowboys logo. There was a lot of good-natured ribbing from the workers about the Eagles stuff we were wearing. If the situation were reversed, my carcass would probably be floating down the Delaware River at this moment, so I thank them for that. The guy at the register instructed everyone to line up “here”, and all Eagles fans “way over there”. My son was worried that the money was going to go to Jerry Jones. The guy said, “Yes it is, thanks for helping out”. I figured if the money was going towards keeping Roy Williams on the field, I could accept that. My friend asked where all of the Redskin stuff was, and was told that “we took the trash out yesterday”. These guys are prepared! I think they study a script for these occasions. He did pull out some Cowboys stickers and held them out to my kids as a “peace offering”, but all he received in return were silent, icy glares. “I see you’ve taught them well,” he said, as I wiped the tear from the corner of my eye.
The new higher price includes a complimentary photo on the star at midfield, which is a claimed value of $10. So, compared to a couple of weeks ago, they’ve added $2.50 and forced you to buy a photo. Which isn’t so terrible for one person, but does a family of four really need 4 photos?
On to the tour: Since we were kickin’ it VIP, we were taken to a private suite, the press boxes, the Cotton Bowl offices and the Dr Pepper Star Bar. The first thing you notice is the huge hanging TV screen. It’s gigantic, and I hate to say, completely awesome. The Dr. Pepper Star Bar is a bar on the top level of the end zone. There are some bottle cap and ice cube-shaped stools and some imported Italian glass globes hanging from the ceiling, because what football game would be complete without imported Italian glass things? The press boxes are at the ends of the sidelines, in order to leave the prime middle sections to the paying customers. The private suite looks very nice and has a great view, but you can’t bring your Milwaukee’s Best from Walmart in there. You must buy everything from the stadium’s catering staff, whose motto is “If you have to ask how much a beer costs, you can’t afford it.” I’m kind of torn about visiting the private suite. It was kind of like visiting Salma Hayek’s bedroom. It was interesting to see, but sad to realize that I’d never get to use it.
The most interesting part of the guided tour was hearing the legend of the disfigured gentleman who lives under the stadium and plays the organ. He even has his own elevator and can sometimes be seen on the sidelines giving advice to Wade Phillips when games are close.
The rest of the stadium tour is the portion that you can see if you pay for the self-guided tour. For $17.50/$14.50, you can visit the field, the Cowboys locker room, the Cowboys cheerleaders locker room, and the interview room. Word of advice: Bring your football! This was the best part of the tour. Throwing the fade to the corner of the end zone. Toe tapping after a spectacular grab on the sideline. Tossing a TD to your 8-year-old son who prompty spikes it on the star. Repeatedly. That section of turf looks a little thinner now.
The guide had talked up the Cowboys locker room in advance. She explained that the lockers were made from the wood of some rare Amazonian tree whose destruction has now left 38 animal species primed for extinction. I don’t know, I was kind of underwhelmed. They were lockers. They were brown. And wooden-looking. You could have fooled me with painted particle board. It looked kind of how I’d expect a locker room to look.
They let you hang out on the event level (field and locker rooms) for as long as you’d like. The only thing that keeps you from hanging out for another 3 hours is the eventual looks of wifely disapproval. Don’t forget your complimentary photo(s) on the star. Be creative. Especially if you’ve paid for four of them.