Business of Sports
Welcome to the NFL's Biggest Stadium
On Aug. 21, the Dallas Cowboys take the field inside their new $1.15 billion stadium for the first time, when they host the Tennessee Titans in the inaugural football game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex. A process that began only five years ago, when Arlington officials first talked to the Cowboys about building a stadium there, has produced a building now receiving international attention and widespread architectural acclaim. Most of the credit for America's newest landmark goes to Dallas-based architectural leader HKS, Inc., and the lead designer on the project, Bryan Trubey, HKS principal and senior vice-president.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones entrusted Trubey to bring to life his vision of an airy, technology-charged building that would define the future of watching football, and compete with pro sports' biggest 21st-century challenge, that massive HDTV in front of your own comfy couch. "That's why I spent the money," Jones told The New York Times' Richard Sandomir. "It has a chance to be one of the most visible buildings in this country. … I could have built this for $850 [million]. And it would have been a fabulous place to play football. But this was such an opportunity for the 'wow factor.'"
Thanks to the new stadium, Jones added that he expects team revenue to rise at least 50% this season—a key factor in Trubey's appeal to the dozens of team owners with whom he's worked. "Cowboys Stadium was designed to be America's Stadium," Trubey says. "Its modern style represents power, motion, agility, and the grace of the team, linking architectural form to the primary use of the venue. Our goal was to design the best stadium in the world, with the biggest fan payback, and the biggest boost to the team's and the community's bottom line."
Almost all 315 of the stadium's luxury suites have been sold for the 2009-2010 season, and Jones stated last week that 90% of club seats—the 15,000 "closest to the field out of the 80,000 permanent seats—have been sold." (Each club seat carries a personal-seat-license fee of between $16,000 and $150,000.)
The stadium—the NFL's biggest venue by far—is designed to host nonfootball events from the NCAA men's basketball Final Four to the biggest acts in entertainment. In terms of the latter, there's arguably none bigger than Aug. 19 headliner Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle and cultural icon. It is only fitting that in its first football week Cowboys Stadium was also graced by entertainment royalty.
2. The Stadium as Canvas
The blending of sports and entertainment is well documented. Sports and fine art is an entirely different matter. (To clarify, that doesn't mean the Michael Jordan statue in Chicago or the one of Art Rooney in Pittsburgh. We're talking about pieces that belong in museums.)
When Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, announced the Dallas Cowboys Art Program, an initiative to commission and install contemporary art throughout their new football home, Cowboys Stadium became the latest sports facility to double as a gallery. "From top to bottom, we're taking a whole new approach to what a national sports arena can be," said Jones, in a statement. "Football is full of the unexpected and the spontaneous—it can make two strangers into friends. Art has the power to do that, too." These other sports facilities share that artistic vision:
5. Invesco Field: When Invesco Field opened in 2001, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen paid Italian artist Sergio Benvenuti an estimated $2 million for a sculpture of seven galloping horses.
4. Target Field: The Minnesota Ballpark Authority commissioned two artists to create public artwork at the Twins' under-construction Target Field. One artist will be paid $200,000 for a series of murals on the ballpark's northeast exterior, while the other gets $150,000 to create a large-scale suspended sculpture.
3. Consol Energy Center: The Pittsburgh Penguins hired San Francisco-based artist Walter Hood to design stainless steel curtains embedded with thousands of color photographs for the walkway in front of Consol Energy Center. The arena is set to open in time for the 2010-11 hockey season.
2. Cowboys Stadium: Jones has commissioned 14 pieces of contemporary art to be placed throughout his new facility. The team will offer art tours of the stadium for school field trips once the project is complete.
1. Land Shark Stadium: Famed artist Romero Britto is giving the facility a mural facelift. Britto's artwork will be displayed on the stadium's helixes and gate entrances beginning this season; the entire project could take three years to complete.
*Since Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made his fortune as an art dealer, expect to see pieces at the team's new $515 million stadium.
3. Michael Vick: Revenue Stream
It's official: Michael Vick is back in the NFL. How do we know that? They're selling his jersey.
The fledgling Philadelphia Eagles quarterback's No. 7 went on sale Aug. 14 on both NFLShop.com and the Eagles team site, the first time in more than two years that the league and Reebok officially sold a Vick jersey. In Philadelphia, Modell's Sporting Goods' regional marketing manager reported that two local Modell's stores were carrying the Vick jerseys after the company "received a high demand for the product." The stores sold $1,200 worth of merchandise on Aug. 15 and about $1,700 more by late afternoon the next day, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. (Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler leads all players in jersey sales on NFLShop.com from Apr. 1-Aug. 7, the most recent sales reporting period.)
However, in Vick's former home turf of Atlanta, Journal-Constitution writer Jeff Schultz was a little more skeptical: "I know the NFL is quite adept at merchandising," Schultz wrote. "But what I can't figure out is why the league is so quick to merchandise an athlete that it still doesn't see fit to reinstate. Doesn't this seem just a tad hypocritical?"
CNBC's Darren Rovell also reports that both the sales volume and price on tickets purchased via StubHub tripled last week for the Eagles-Falcons game in Atlanta on Dec. 6. The game, according to a StubHub spokesperson, will likely top Atlanta's Sept. 13 home opener against Miami as the highest-grossing Falcons game of the season for the secondary ticketing site. Chalk those sales up to No. 7.
4. Laying Down the Law: Fines by Roger Goodell
NFL players, be forewarned. If you make Roger Goodell look bad, he will make you pay. With the announcement that Donte Stallworth is out for the entire 2009-2010 season, Goodell has now suspended five players for conduct detrimental to the league. Based on the players' salaries the year they were suspended, here's how much they lost (signing bonuses not included).
5. Chris Henry (2007), $217,500 (Base salary: $435,000, Games: 8)
4. Tank Johnson (2007), $318,750 (Base salary: $510,000, Games: 10)
3. Donte Stallworth (2009), $745,000 (Base salary: $745,000, Games: 16)
2. Pacman Jones (2007), $1,292,500 (Base salary: $1,292,500, Games: 16)
1. Michael Vick (2007), $6,000,000 (Base salary: $6,000,000, Games: 16)
*Stallworth received a $4.5 million roster bonus the night before his crash, leaving $745,000 left on his contract for 2009. If Vick sits out the first six games of 2009, he loses $600,000 from his $1.6 million salary.
5. Foodie Fan: Bubbles n' Booze
Beer is to sports as milk is to chocolate chip cookies. While a few fans have been known to overindulge (beer-thrower at Wrigley, we're talking to you), cocktails can be a pleasant accoutrement to a sporting event. Until, of course, the open bar threatens to fall off a big green wall.
The Boston Red Sox are being mandated by the city to stop offering $1,000, all-you-can-drink ticket packages atop Fenway's Green Monster. According to a 1984 state law, free drinks, reduced-price drinks, and open bars are not allowed at public establishments. The team is offering refunds to those who already purchased tickets to the Green Monster left-field seats, as well as some in the right-field pavilion and several premium-seat sections.
All-you-can-drink is not limited to America. Over the course of just a few hours, the Chelsea soccer team racked up a $240,000 bar bill at a London nightclub. Team captain John Terry's bill alone was $120,000, which included 30 bottles of Dom Perignon at $1,300 each and countless $800 cocktails.
Back in Cowboys Stadium, Dee Lincoln's Tasting Room and Bubble Bar was scheduled to open Aug. 19, just in time for Paul McCartney and his sophisticated baby boomer fan base. The 1,000-square-foot tasting room features four dozen wines, which concertgoers/football fans can buy by the ounce or by the glass via cutting-edge self-serve machinery. Specialty cocktails, such as champagne, martinis, and Bellinis, will also be available at the tasting room. The Bubble Bar, as it is commonly known, will be available to suite ticket holders and club members.
"If you're a wine lover, this will be the place to come," said Mike Rawlings, CEO of Legends Hospitality Management, the stadium concessionaire, who added that he has not seen anything like this tasting room in a sports venue. Perhaps someone should ring up John Terry.