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Volume 23 No. 9
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Facility of the Decade: AT&T Stadium

America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, calls AT&T home.
Photo: getty images
America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, calls AT&T home.
Photo: getty images
America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, calls AT&T home.
Photo: getty images

When architects from HKS met with the Dallas Cowboys 20 years ago to discuss the team’s new stadium, owner Jerry Jones told them that he wanted it to be the greatest entertainment and NFL venue in the country.

With the debut of Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in 2009, those two goals were accomplished, said Bryan Trubey, HKS executive vice president and the lead architect on the project. In its first full decade, AT&T Stadium has built on those ambitions and has been named our Facility of the Decade.

Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones called the stadium, “One of our family’s greatest accomplishments.”

Indeed, AT&T Stadium wasted no time making good on its Texas-sized goals. Start with its notable impact on stadium design, where even language was impacted.

“With AT&T [Stadium], we made multipurpose a good word; previously, for three or four decades, it wasn’t,” said Trubey. “We redefined that word, and you can see the results because it’s one of the best, if not the premier entertainment venues on the planet, right now.

108,713

Attendance for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, most ever for a basketball game.

“There was a belief and goal that we should make a serious piece of architecture with this project,” Trubey said. “Early on in our discussions with the [Jones] family, we asked them: How do you see the Cowboys? And they were very adamant that they saw the Cowboys as an international brand.” 

At 3 million square feet, AT&T Stadium was the largest NFL facility ever built. It is the largest domed structure in the U.S. And it set the standard for video boards, with 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. 

At a price tag of $1.2 billion, AT&T 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.

AT&T Stadium’s other fan experience and seating innovations went beyond premium seating and have influenced venues that have opened since 2009. The stadium’s standing-room-only areas were branded as the “Party Pass” and were placed on six elevated platforms behind each end zone. 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. 

AT&T Stadium also positioned itself as the home of major moments beyond Cowboys games. In addition to notable boxing cards and soccer matches, A-list events like the 2010 NBA All-Star Game (108,713), Super Bowl XLV (103,219), the 2014 Final Four (79,238 for the title game) and the 2015 CFP championship game (85,788) each set attendance records there. 

“We all thought this [AT&T Stadium] would be one of the most important civic buildings that was probably built in our time,” Trubey added.

It’s off to a pretty good start.