SBJ/December 18 - 24, 2006/This Weeks News

Cowboys plan unique field-level suites

The Dallas Cowboys are taking the next step in event-level suites at their planned $1 billion stadium, creating both sideline and end-zone units that come with lower-bowl seats.

HKS’s design for the Cowboys’ futuristic new home,
revealed last week, incorporates the hole in the roof
from Texas Stadium.

These suites, like the others in the building, will carry a price tag of more than $350,000 a year, helping push the average suite price for the building to the top among single-team NFL stadiums.

Forty field-level boxes are among the 200 suites Dallas-based architect HKS is creating at the stadium, whose design was introduced to the public last week. The 80,000-seat stadium, as yet unnamed, is scheduled to open in 2009 in Arlington.

The ultra-exclusive units contain indoor space and outdoor patios that can accommodate up to 21 people. Those who prefer watching the game without staring at the backs of the players on the sidelines will be able to walk up a private stairway to a premium lower-bowl seat, said Stephen Jones, Cowboys executive vice president.

HKS principal Bryan Trubey said, “It’s a one-off experience no one else has done in football.”

Field-level suite holders and other premium-seating customers will have access to two 6,000-square-foot sideline clubs, which the Cowboys and visiting teams will walk through between their locker rooms and the field.

The suites are a step beyond what’s offered by the Seattle Seahawks, who introduced the concept five seasons ago when Ellerbe Becket-designed Qwest Field opened with end-zone suites. Field-level suite holders there sit in fixed seats in front of their indoor space. The stadium has no sideline suites.

The Cowboys adapted the idea of packaging field-level suites with seats in the lower bowl after visiting several NBA arenas containing “bunker suites,” premium spaces built under the stands or elsewhere without views of the court but that include courtside seats, Jones said.

The Cowboys have not determined field-level suite prices, but all suites in the stadium will “definitely exceed $350,000” annually, Jones said. That figure would put the Cowboys at the top of the NFL in average suite price for a one-team building, said Bill Dorsey, executive director of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors.

The Seahawks’ 12 “red zone” suites are sold out and lease for $95,000 to $130,000 a season, said Amy Sprangers, the team’s director of corporate hospitality, suite sales and service. Seattle had no problem having clients sign nine-year extensions for the initial three-year deals that came up for renewal, Sprangers said.

The Seahawks found out when initially selling the end zone boxes that some potential buyers preferred an unobstructed midfield view. “It’s an emotional buy … very much a personal preference,” Sprangers said.

The Indianapolis Colts have sold all eight field-level suites planned for the south end zone in HKS-designed Lucas Oil Stadium, their $500 million facility opening in 2008. The end-zone boxes were priced at $90,000 to $100,000 for five-, eight- and 10-year terms.

“When the action is in your end zone, it’s the best seat in the house,” said Pete Ward, Colts senior executive vice president. “The tradeoff is on the other end of the field, but it’s still a unique experience.”

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