I attended Sunday's match between Chelsea FC and Club America at the new Cowboys Stadium, the $1.15 billion facility that opened a few weeks ago in Arlington. I expected the stadium to be huge, but Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has managed to construct a facility that is enormous even by the overcompensating standards of big-boot, tiny-johnson Texas excess.
Cowboys Stadium has the largest roof in the world that isn't supported by columns. Two arches twice as wide as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis support the roof, which is tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty inside. The facility also has the world's largest retractable roof and the largest movable glass doors at each end zone. I don't know why these doors are needed, unless the facility is hoping to schedule meetings of the Transformers. From the outside, the stadium looks like a cross between the Legion of Doom headquarters and a Decepticon. I'm concerned that the first time the Dallas Cowboys lose a big game, the stadium will rise up in anger and reduce the Texas Rangers' ballpark next door to rubble.
During the match a massive thunderstorm raged outside, with lightning striking so close that fans gasped. Under the closed roof, you couldn't even tell the storm was bad. The stadium is larger than nature.
Inside, the view is great even from the upper deck cheap seats, which is where I sat, and the whole place is air conditioned. As the crowd of 57,000 filled out -- the stadium holds 82,000 -- blasts of cool air on my back kept the place comfortable. The carbon footprint can't be pretty. I'm guessing that every day this facility operates, the Earth's lifespan is shortened by a day. This is a fair trade.
The most amazing feature of the stadium is the world's largest HDTV, which hangs from the ceiling and faces both sidelines. Smaller side TVs hang off the sides.
The TV deserves its own name, so I've been calling it Telemanjaro.
Telemanjaro is 160 feet wide, 72 feet tall and lit by 300 million bulbs. The picture quality is flawless. From the upper deck, Telemanjaro occupies up so much of the view that you cannot see one-fourth of the fans in the stadium. It's tough to find a picture that conveys the enormity, but here's one by Erik Grande.
The field is fully visible, but it competes for your attention with Telemanjaro. The entire soccer match was broadcast on the TV as it happened. Occasionally, I glanced up to get a better view of play. Several minutes passed as I gazed in slack-jawed awe, forgetting to look back down at the field
Although this sounds like a knock against Telemanjaro, it's actually the best experience I've had watching a game from the uppermost deck of a large stadium. You don't miss anything from the nosebleeds. The gigantic screen sees all and knows all. Speaking of which, one of the Club America players desperately needs to exfoliate.
I attended the game with four other people, none of whom can afford Cowboys tickets in this economy. Making the impulsive decision to relocate from Florida to Dallas, I tried to commit us all to buying season tickets before we left the event and breaking the news to our respective spouses after we got home. (Private note to Chad, Eric, Greg and Mom: Your priorities are seriously out of whack.)
As a child of a generation raised on television, I cannot help but regard Telemanjaro as the pinnacle of human achievement. I felt a strong compulsion to worship Telemanjaro and to buy the products it advertised to stay in its favor.
Anyone who visits Dallas should make a pilgrimage to see Telemanjaro, no matter how many organs you must sell to afford Jerry's ticket prices. Fun fact: As much as two-thirds of your liver can grow back if removed.
The TV hangs above the players and weighs 660 tons, which initially made me fear that an accident might crush more than a dozen pampered millionaires to a fine paste.
But I realized quickly that Telemanjaro loves us and would not harm us, as long as we keep watching.