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Originally estimated at $650 million, the stadium's actual construction cost rose to $1.15 billion, making it one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. To aid Cowboys owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, in paying the construction costs of the new stadium, Arlington voters approved the increase of the city's sales tax by 0.5%, the hotel occupancy tax by 2%, and car rental tax by 5%. The City of Arlington provided over $325 million (including interest) in bonds as funding, and Jones covered any cost overruns. Also, the NFL provided the Cowboys with an additional $150 million loan, following its policy for facilitating financing for the construction of new stadiums.
A pair of nearly 300 ft (91 m)-tall arches spans the length of the stadiumdome (one of the tallest domes in the world), anchored to the ground at each end. The new stadium also includes "more than 3,000 Sony LCD displays throughout the luxury suites, concourses, concession areas and more, offering fans viewing options that extend beyond the action on the field". It also houses a center-hung Mitsubishi video display board that was the largest HDTV screen in the world at the time of their installation. It has since been surpassed in size by the Panasonic "Big Hoss" video board (218 feet (66 m) wide and 94.6 feet (28.8 m) tall) at Texas Motor Speedway. Glass doors, allowing each end zone to be opened, were designed and constructed by Dallas-based Haley-Greer glass systems.
The retractable roof was designed by structural engineering firm Walter P Moore and the systems were implemented by mechanization consultants Uni-Systems. The electrification of Cowboys Stadium's retractable roof was developed by VAHLE, Inc. These Kinetic Architecture fundamentals will be employed in order to create quick conversions of the facility to accommodate a variety of events. When the design was officially unveiled on December 12, 2006, it showed that, from inside the stadium, the roof (membrane installed by K Post Company of Dallas) will look very similar to the Texas Stadium roof, with its trademark hole. However, it can be covered by the retractable roof panel to protect against the elements.
The football turf field was built by Hellas Construction. They developed a special SoftTop Convertible Turf System that has 26 interchangeable panels to allow the stadium to host a variety of events from concerts, dirt bike and monster truck rallies to college football, basketball, and soccer games.
A Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame is planned for the Hall of Fame level. The drawings also include a site for a large sculpture northeast of the stadium, close to Randol Mill Road. Mayor Robert Cluck claimed to use eminent domain as a last resort but most of the properties refused to sell to the city, indicating that the incentive program was not adequate according to Glenn Sodd, an attorney representing some home owners in the area. Attorney Bob Cohen, who is representing some of the property owners, said the city gave many of his clients little incentive to sell. He said he represents the owners of some rental properties who were counting on that monthly revenue for their retirement and said most homeowners cannot afford to re-build or buy in that area with the incentive package. An Arlington attorney was quoted as saying "The mayor sold out and the council went right along".
It is claimed that the stadium uses more electricity than the whole country of Liberia.
1994: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he wants to expand the 65,000-seat Texas Stadium by up to 40,000 seats, add retractable roof panels and install a climate-control system to make the stadium a year-round venue for sporting events, including the Super Bowl, concerts, and conventions.
1997-2000: The Cowboys hold preliminary talks with Arlington officials about building a stadium there. The team also publicly discusses a $260 million plan to upgrade Texas Stadium. In 2000, the Cowboys compile a list of potential stadium sites, which include Grapevine, Coppell, and Arlington. The team continues negotiating with Irving to renovate Texas Stadium.
2001: Jones says Arlington is a leading contender for a $500 million stadium. The primary site considered is the 2,000 acres (810 ha) Lakes of Arlington tract on Farm Road 157. Other cities in the running include Grapevine and Grand Prairie. In October, Jones discusses the new stadium with the mayors of Arlington, Irving, Grapevine, and Dallas.
2003: The Cowboys ask the Irving City Council to extend their lease at Texas Stadium, which expires at the end of the 2008 season, on a year-to-year basis. They narrow their search to sites in Las Colinas and Dallas, and state legislators file bills that would allow Dallas County to increase its hotel occupancy and car rental taxes to pay for a new stadium.
2004: In April, the Cowboys announce plans to build a $650 million stadium at Fair Park in Dallas. The deal requires $425 million in public financing from a 3% hotel-occupancy tax and a 6% car-rental tax. The deal falls apart in June when Dallas County commissioners say they cannot justify asking voters to approve the team's request for $425 million in public funding. In July, the Cowboys and Arlington announce they are negotiating to locate the stadium near Globe Life Park (then Ameriquest Field). In August, the Arlington City Council agrees unanimously to put before voters a tax increase that would fund the city's $325 million portion of the project. Voters approve the tax increase on November 2.
2005: Arlington and the Cowboys choose the site south of Randol Mill Road and east of Collins Street for the new stadium. The city begins notifying residents and property owners of its plans to acquire their property. The Cowboys hire the HKS architectural firm to design the stadium. Early blueprints show 414 luxury suites and a two-panel retractable roof. The city completes its sale of $297.9 million in bonds to pay for its portion of the construction. Demolition of houses began November 1.
January 2006: The Cowboys hired Oklahoma-based Manhattan Construction as the general contractor for the stadium and the city completes its land purchases, although it still faces a number of lawsuits over land acquisition. Later that month, Tarrant County work crews begin demolition of more than 150 Arlington residences and small business structures to make room for the stadium.
March 2006: Alliance announced between Manhattan Construction and two general contractors, Rayco Construction of Grand Prairie and 3i Construction of Dallas, to manage the stadium's construction.
April 2006: Excavation begins by Mario Sinacola and Sons Excavating. By August, they had moved over 1.4 million cubic yards (1,100,000 m3) of earth, shaping a 13-to-14-acre (5.3 to 5.7 ha) stadium bowl an average of 54 feet (16 m) deep.
August 2006: Two construction cranes are raised on the site.
October 2006: The grass amphitheater on Randol Mill Road is leveled to make way for the extension of Baird Farm Road.
December 2006: The stadium's structure begins to go up and on December 12, Jerry Jones unveils the in-depth plans and designs of the stadium to the public.
January 2007: A construction worker is injured in a 20 ft (6 m) fall.
February 2007: Masonry work begins.
March 2007: Heldenfels Enterprises awarded the contract to manufacture and erect the pre-cast/pre-stressed concrete structural components and placement of them begins in April.
June 2007: Work on the retractable roof, designed by Uni-Systems, starts.
July 2007: Exterior facade and enclosure work began.
October 2007: First steel arch is completed.
Armed Forces Color Guard at Super Bowl XLV; then Cowboys Stadium
February 2008: Second steel arch is completed.
June 2008: Jones commissions the world's largest 1080p HDTV, to hang above field.
June 2008: An electrician is electrocuted while working on the stadium. Two days before, three people were injured while assembling a crane.
2009: The stadium is scheduled for 'substantial completion' in June. The artificial-turf field was brought into the stadium in July. The Cowboys played their first pre-season home game on August 21 and their first regular-season home game on Sunday, September 20.
May 13, 2009: Jerry Jones announced the official name of the new venue as Cowboys Stadium.
June 6, 2009: The first event is held at the stadium with country concert showcasing Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, and George Strait.
February 6, 2011: The 2010 NFL Season Super Bowl was hosted at the Cowboys Stadium, which saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
July 25, 2013: Jerry Jones announced that the official name of the venue was changed to AT&T Stadium as part of a naming rights deal.
July 19, 2009: The first sporting event is held in Cowboys Stadium. Costa Rica won in the Gold Cup Quarterfinal game versus Guadeloupe, with the first goal scored in stadium history during the 2nd minute by Celso Borges. That match was immediately followed by a sold out match between Mexico and Haiti, with 82,252 in attendance.
August 20, 2009: Jody Dean, a member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame and KLUV-FM (98.7) talk show host, will be Cowboys Stadium's public address announcer. Dean replaces his longtime nemesis KTCK 1310 AM "The Ticket"'sGeorge Dunham, the Hot Fry enthusiast and former voice of Texas Stadium.
August 21, 2009: The Cowboys played the Tennessee Titans in their first preseason home game and first American football game ever played at Cowboys Stadium. The game was nationally televised on FOX at 7 PM CDT. Dallas won the game 30-10, with one play from scrimmage blown dead when a ball punted by Titans' rookie punter A. J. Trapasso struck the main video screen after repeatedly striking it during pregame warmups.
September 20, 2009: The Cowboys played their first NFL regular season game in the new stadium, with former President and Texas resident George W. Bush handling the opening coin toss. The Cowboys lost to their long-time NFC East division rivals, the New York Giants, 33-31 with Eli Manning leading them on a last second field goal by Lawrence Tynes. It was televised on NBC. This game attracted a record-breaking crowd of 105,121. After the game, Manning signed the wall of the visitor's locker room with the message, "First win in the New Stadium."
September 28, 2009: The Cowboys got their first home regular season win. They beat the Carolina Panthers 21-7 with 90,588 in attendance. The game was televised on ESPN's Monday Night Football and marked a record 42nd win for the Cowboys on MNF.
Although the stadium had yet to sell naming rights, many fans started referring to the project with various nicknames such as "Jerry World", the "Death Star", "The Palace in Dallas" (for which announcer Bob Costas was criticized by the Arlington mayor), "Cowboys Cathedral", "Jerrassic Park" and others. There was also a petition by some fans to have the stadium named after longtime Cowboys' coach Tom Landry.
On May 13, 2009, Jerry Jones announced the official name as Cowboys Stadium.
On July 25, 2013, Jerry Jones announced that the Dallas Cowboys had agreed to grant naming rights to AT&T. The name change from Cowboys Stadium to AT&T Stadium took effect immediately. The sponsorship deal was reported to be worth about $17-19 million per year.Facility Solutions Group installed the "AT&T Stadium" letters on the top of the stadium. Signage includes two sets of letters 43 feet (13 m) tall stretching 385 feet (117 m). The letters are made of lightweight components and aluminum and are insulated and heated to melt ice and snow.
During the debut preseason game of Cowboys Stadium on August 21, 2009, a punt by Tennessee Titans punter A. J. Trapasso hit the 175 feet (58 yd) wide screen above the field. The punt deflected backwards and was ruled in-play until Titans coach Jeff Fisher informed the officials that the punt struck the scoreboard. By rule, the down was replayed. Jerry Jones believes that Trapasso was trying to hit the scoreboard, saying, "If you look at how you punt the football, unless you're trying to hit the scoreboard, you punt the ball to get downfield. You certainly want to get some hangtime, but you punt the ball to get downfield, and you sure don't punt the ball down the middle. You punt it off to the side." Whether the screen would affect an opposing team's punting strategy has been debated. For teams with strategies centered on maximizing hang-time, physicist Christopher Moore of Longwood University has shown via computer simulation that well-kicked punts have the potential to hit the screen no matter the field position. Trapasso disputed Jones' suggestion that he was intentionally trying to hit the board, and other NFL punters have suggested that the board may pose a problem for longer hang-time punts. The screen was retrofitted with 16 custom winches using 11,000 feet (3,400 m) of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) domestic galvanized wire rope to transport the video board in time to make room for U2's massive set during their 360° Tour, and was moved back down after the concert. The video board is also the primary attachment point for up to 370,000 pounds (170,000 kg) of concert and theatrical rigging.
On August 24, 2013, Cowboys punter Chris Jones became the second player to hit the scoreboard. He conceded a touchdown on the re-kick.
NBA All-Star Weekend
On February 14, 2010, the stadium hosted the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. With an announced crowd of 108,713, the game became the highest-attended basketball game in history, setting a new Guinness World Record. The East squad prevailed with a 141-139 victory over the West.
Cowboys playing at the stadium
On January 3, 2010, the Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in a 24-0 shutout to win the NFC East division title and complete the first ever back-to-back shutouts in franchise history.
On January 9, 2010, the Cowboys hosted their first playoff game in the new stadium, again playing the Eagles. Dallas won 34-14, breaking their infamous 13-year playoff win drought.
On February 6, 2011, the stadium hosted Super Bowl XLV in which the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25. Others bidding for the game's location were the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Cowboys attempted to increase its capacity to 105,000 seats in hopes of setting the record for attendance at a Super Bowl. In a last-minute rush to add seats during one of the area's notorious ice storms, 7 construction workers were injured by ice sliding off of the stadium roof. Hours before kickoff, over 1,200 seats were blocked off in the interest of safety; according to a police officer in the affected area, the seats hadn't been finished in time for the fire marshal to inspect them. Approximately 800 people were given other seats inside the stadium, thus costing the NFL any chance of setting the Super Bowl attendance record (the final figure of 103,219 came 766 short of the record set in Super Bowl XIV). However, about 400 people were unable to be seated and were given a letter from the NFL that could be exchanged for three times the face value of the ticket. Those people were also given the option to either watch on a TV in one of the stadium's lounges, where they would be unable to see the field in person, or watch on screens outside the stadium. The NFL also announced that those 400 people would receive free tickets to the next year's Super Bowl. On February 9, 2011, the first lawsuit was filed against the NFL and Jerry Jones. In 2018, the stadium hosted the 2018 NFL Draft.
January 6, 2012: The Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Kansas State Wildcats, 29-16. Attendance was 80,956, currently the third-highest attendance in Cotton Bowl history. During the game, Arkansas receiver Joe Adams returned a punt 51 yards for a touchdown, which was the first punt return for a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl since former Arkansas Razorback Lance Alworth returned a punt 49 yards for a touchdown in a 7-6 loss to Duke in 1961. The win also propelled the Razorbacks to a #5 ranking in the final AP poll and gave them their first 11-win season since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1991. Kansas State ended the season with a 10-3 record and ranked #15 in the final AP poll.
January 4, 2013: The (10) Texas A&M Aggies defeated the (12) Oklahoma Sooners 41-13 to finish the season with an 11-2 record. Johnny Manziel rushed for 229 yards (on just 17 carries) during the game, a Cotton Bowl record and national bowl record for a quarterback, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for two more. Manziel totaled 516 total yards also a Cotton Bowl Classic record. Though the halftime score was 14-13 Texas A&M, the Aggies went on to score 27 unanswered second half points to win the game. The game's attendance of 87,025 is the second highest in Cotton Bowl Classic history, behind the 2009 game between Mississippi-Texas Tech at 88,175.
In December 2020, it was announced that the 107th Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 2021, which is one of the CFP semifinal games for the 2020 season, would be moved to AT&T Stadium due to COVID-19 conditions and restrictions in the state of California. It is the first time since 1942 that the game will not be played in Pasadena, California.
September 5, 2009: The (20) Brigham Young University Cougars and (3) Oklahoma Sooners played the first college football game in the new stadium, with the Cougars upsetting the Sooners, 14-13, in front of 75,437 spectators. So BYU holds the distinction of being the first college team to win a game in the stadium, and the team to win the first (non-preseason) game in the stadium.
October 3, 2009: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones watched his alma mater, the Arkansas Razorbacks, defeat the Texas A&M Aggies 47-19 in the first of ten games called the Southwest Classic to be played at the stadium.
October 9, 2010: The Arkansas Razorbacks jumped out to an early 21-7 lead, and held on to defeat the Texas A&M Aggies, 24-17.
October 1, 2011: The Arkansas Razorbacks rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat the Texas A&M Aggies 41-38.
September 27, 2014: The Texas A&M Aggies rallied from a deficit to force overtime and then scored the only TD for the 35-28 win to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks.
September 26, 2015: Texas A&M rallied from a fourth quarter deficit for the second straight year versus Arkansas, beating the Razorbacks 28-21 in OT.
September 24, 2016: After being tied at halftime, the Aggies dominated the second half to defeat the Razorbacks 45-24.
Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shootout
In 2009, the Big 12 Conference game between the Baylor Bears and Texas Tech Red Raiders was held at Cowboys Stadium, the first time in the series the match-up was held on a neutral site. The game was the highest attended in the series' history, with 71,964 in attendance.
July 19, 2009 - Cowboys Stadium hosted two matches in the quarterfinal round of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Costa Rica defeated Guadeloupe, 5-1. Mexico shut out Haiti, 4-0 in front of 85,000 fans.
July 17, 2010 - On July 17, 2010, two of the top professional soccer clubs in Mexico - Club America and San Luis F.C. - met in a friendly at Cowboys Stadium. Club America made its second appearance at Cowboys Stadium. In 2009, Club America played Chelsea FC in the World Football Challenge in front of 57,229 fans at Cowboys Stadium.
June 5, 2011 - Cowboys Stadium hosted the opening matches of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Costa Rica defeated Cuba 5-0 in the opener, while Mexico defeated El Salvador 5-0 in the nightcap in front of 80,108 fans.
July 24, 2013 - Cowboys Stadium hosted the semifinals matches of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. United States defeated Honduras 3-1 and Panama defeated Mexico 2-1. It was the last event at the venue using the name Cowboys Stadium, and was the first appearance of the U.S. soccer team at this stadium.
The stadium has hosted three world championship boxing fights since its opening, as the large capacity and retractable roof make it an ideal venue for boxing events throughout the year. Two of the sports biggest stars in Manny Pacquiao and Saul "Canelo" Álvarez have headlined championship bouts there, with top level boxing set to return on March 16, 2019 when unbeaten champions Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia square off for the IBF Welterweight Championship.
AT&T Stadium hosted WWE's WrestleMania 32 on April 3, 2016. This marked the third WrestleMania to be hosted in Texas. The area also hosted activities throughout the region for the week-long celebration leading up to WrestleMania itself.
Maren Morris was the special guest at the first show. Taylor and Maren performed "The Middle". Sugarland were the special guests on the second show. They performed their collaboration with Swift "Babe". Netflix also captured the night for their Reputation Tour Film on Netflix.
September 5, 2009 - Led by a strong defensive effort and quarterback Max Hall's 329 yards passing, No. 20 BYU defeated No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13 in the first college game played in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
November 12, 2009 - The first Texas high school football playoff game played at Cowboys Stadium was between Bowie High School (Arlington, Texas) and Richland High School (North Richland Hills; Texas).
February 2010 - The first MDA Muscle Walk in the Dallas-Fort Worth area took place. This event was held annually, having returned in 2011, 2012, and 2013. That event has since moved to Globe Life Park in Arlington (formerly Rangers Ballpark) starting in 2014.
Several participants walk at the 2013 DFW MDA Muscle Walk; then known as Cowboys Stadium.
February 27, 2010 - The stadium hosted its first Monster Jam event with 11 trucks. This event is now held annually, having returned in 2011 and scheduled for 2012.
June 30, 2011 - The final round of the 2011 US Women's Open in bowling was played at Cowboys Stadium, with Leanne Hulsenberg winning.
Dec. 7 - 17, 2011 - Cowboys Stadium hosted all the Texas 11-man football state championships for the first time. It was also the first time all 11-man state championships were held in one location.
February 2011 - The Professional Bull Riders hosted the Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational in February 2011.
February 2012 - The Professional Bull Riders hosted the Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational in February 2012.
February 2013 - The Professional Bull Riders hosted the Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational in February 2013.
February 11, 2013 - American Sniper Chris Kyle's memorial ceremony proceeded by a 200-mile (320 km) procession across Texas.
February 2013 - The Professional Bull Riders hosted the Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational in February 2014.
February 2014 - The inaugural The American Rodeo was held.
The fees for premium parking at Dallas Cowboys games are estimated at $75 per game, based on season ticket holder parking charges. The fees to park at major concerts and other sporting events will be nearly $40 per space at the new stadium. A shuttle operates between the T&P Station and AT&T Stadium for all Cowboys regular season and postseason games and selected college football games, which averages approximately 900 riders per game. For special events like Super Bowl XLV parking prices can increase to as much as $990.
The stadium was only accessible via the Metro Arlington Xpress (MAX) bus system; a 0.4 mi (0.64 km) walk from the Collins and Andrews stop which connected with the Trinity Rail Express (TRE) station at CentrePort/DFW Airport. The bus system was an experimental program which commenced in April 2013 and was replaced by a ride-sharing service in December 2017.