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Volume 20 No. 42
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NFL’s No. 1 challenge

The Cowboys, with their giant, center-hung board, are all about the experience.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Jerry Jones took more than half a minute to respond to the question:
What is the NFL’s biggest challenge?

The answer, after the thoughtful pause, was a familiar one for league executives these days: the in-game experience.

Jones cited all the usual suspects in support of his answer, noting the need to keep the crowd energized for a good TV image and ensuring that the social experience is a positive.

Of course, the Cowboys have little trouble selling out — the team averages a league-best 87,298 fans per game — and their center-hung, 60-yard-long scoreboard is all about entertaining. But Jones remains focused on the in-stadium issue.

At the end of the interview, he walks over to his desk and shows a letter he has mentioned several times during the conversation, one from the “nice grocery lady.” A friend of his in the grocery business sent it to him. Basically, it is a screed from a customer unhappy with poor customer service who writes that she will not return.

“In short, when I come to visit, which I won’t, but others will, make sure they have a pleasant visit. Then you will keep them as customers,” the letter states.

While the NFL is focused on putting new amenities in stadiums to give the fans something they don’t get at home, Jones says it is also important to remove barriers, like poor parking or traffic, that can keep fans from coming to the game in the first place.

— Daniel Kaplan