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Volume 23 No. 13
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Closing Shot: A Decade in Big D

Ten years after its opening, AT&T Stadium continues to influence facility design, amenities and the game-day experience.
A preseason game on Aug. 21, 2009, gave Cowboys fans their first look at the team’s massive new home, including a 60-yard center-hung video board.
Photo: getty images
A preseason game on Aug. 21, 2009, gave Cowboys fans their first look at the team’s massive new home, including a 60-yard center-hung video board.
Photo: getty images
A preseason game on Aug. 21, 2009, gave Cowboys fans their first look at the team’s massive new home, including a 60-yard center-hung video board.
Photo: getty images

The Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium broke the mold in stadium design when it opened in 2009. Now, 10 years later, the stadium remains a Texas-sized force.

“Magic was created on that project; we originated a lot of things in that building that have been hugely influential in our industry,” said Bryan Trubey, HKS executive vice president and lead architect on the project. “[Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones’ vision was to create the finest and greatest stadium on earth and our vision was in alignment.” 

AT&T Stadium held its first Cowboys game on Aug. 21, 2009, a preseason contest against the Titans. The stadium was affectionately dubbed “Jerry World” because of Jones’ hands-on approach to guiding its conception, design and construction. 

The stadium’s sheer size (3 million square feet), sleek finishes and impressive amenities left observers slack-jawed. It remains the largest domed structure in the U.S. The Cowboys set the standard for video boards, hoisting a 60-yard-long center-hung video board, which was the largest in the world at the time. The venue also boasted the largest retractable roof. 

The $1.2 billion stadium featured 300 suites, 15,000 club seats and 75,000 seats overall, expandable to 105,000. It led the way with premium and social seating options that provided new ways for fans to experience the game, including from field-level suites.

The stadium’s standing-room-only areas were branded as the “Party Pass” and were placed on six elevated platforms behind each endzone. They offered fans a cheaper viewing option and sponsors the opportunity to market to them. The stadium’s exterior plazas generated revenue outside, with pregame and postgame entertainment. Standing-room-only spaces and fan plazas have since become commonplace at stadiums, arenas and ballparks.

AT&T Stadium also positioned itself as the home of major events beyond Cowboys games. Country music stars George Strait and Reba McEntire headlined the first event in the stadium and it has since played host to the Super Bowl, Final Four, CFP national championship, major boxing cards and soccer matches. 

Ten years later, Dallas-based HKS took lessons learned from AT&T Stadium and applied them to designing and planning the new Los Angeles NFL stadium, which will be home to the Rams and Chargers.

“With the exceptions of the Vikings’ new stadium and what we’re doing in Los Angeles, there isn’t a better example of a building [AT&T Stadium] that represents its local region,” Trubey said. “These buildings, whether they rise to the occasion or not, they’re the most important expression of that particular culture at a particular time.”