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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saints are America’s Team, but Cowboys retain America’s Stadium

By Randy Galloway
McClatchy Newspapers

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jerry lost it.

The Dallas Cowboys have been replaced — maybe temporarily, but replaced at the moment — as “America’s Team.”
But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is also the whack-a-mole champion of the national jock kingdom. He keeps popping up.
The New Orleans Saints are now America’s Team.
But in Arlington, there stands “America’s Stadium.”
Not yet nine months old, and the hits keep coming, and I don’t mean A.J. Trapasso.
Remember A.J.?
An otherwise forgettable rookie NFL punter, Trapasso was responsible for the first smudge on the Big Yard when in August he banged a punt off JumboJerryTron.
It was just an exhibition contest, but of importance because it was the first Cowboys’ game at the new place.
A national football furor followed. That massive, overhead video board would destroy the integrity of the entire sport claimed many prominent NFL voices.
The league even had to write a new rule in case it happened again.
Jerry laughed at demands to raise the board. His opinion was that Trapasso had kicked the ball straight up, an intentional hit just for publicity.
Ten more NFL games were played in Arlington, Texas, over the course of the season (one exhibition, eight regular season, one playoff), and no punter came close to nailing the video board.
Jones is still waiting for apologies from many of his football brethren.
Outside of the price of beer and parking, Trapasso has had the only bruise on the Big Yard, although that was temporary. Meanwhile, nothing else in the sports venue business has ever compared to this instant success story.
Next up, of course, 90,000-plus showing up Sunday for the NBA All-Star Game.
“We’re still working on it, talking about it with the city, but actually, we could have gone over 110,000, if not more, and I’m not just blowing smoke here,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “But I also understand the fire marshal has a job to do, and his priority comes first.”
Nowhere in the world will as many people have ever witnessed a basketball game.
But as Jerry says, “Our goal in the beginning, and what we constantly stressed, was Arlington would have something that went beyond anything in the world. And went way beyond football games and a few other events.
“We aren’t there yet, but the early process has been good, particularly for a venue less than a year old.”
When Jones built the place, he installed all the gadgets.
At times, he shows off his gadgets.
Like on a Friday night in November, when 24,000 came to Arlington to watch a second-round high school football playoff game between Aledo and Stephenville.
Jerry was there. So was his special guest, Danny Snyder, owner of the Redskins, who was being given a tour of the place.
Something strange happened. It was raining, heavily at times, but the roof suddenly opened, then closed after a few minutes. As the game started, the field was wet and slippery.
Why? Because Jerry wanted Danny to see how by the mere flip of a switch in his private suite, he could open the roof.
If there’s snow on the basketball court Sunday night, don’t be concerned. It was just Jerry showing off for Cuban.
David Stern, the NBA commissioner, calls Jerry’s monument “a wonder of the world,” and, of course, the only reason the league made the decision to go back under a dome for its all-star event.
Boxing comes to Arlington next month, featuring the most popular fighter in the world, Manny Pacquiao. “This place takes our sport, and all sports, to a totally different level,” said veteran promoter Bob Arum said.
OK, “America’s Stadium” now stands in Arlington. But “America’s Team” is in New Orleans.
It’s seem safe to say no Super Bowl winner has ever been as nationally popular as the Saints, and no coach as nationally hailed as Sean Payton.
The victory over the Colts on Sunday went beyond “sports news.” It has been covered as “general news,” particularly the ongoing celebration aftermath in New Orleans.
The numbers show no sports team in this country is watched as much on TV as the Cowboys, remarkable for a club that hasn’t been in the Super Bowl since the 1995 season.
But Saints-Colts drew the largest audience in the history of TV.
The Cowboys also had some slippage in another area. For years, Forbes magazine has ranked the team in the top three “sports brands” in the world, along with Manchester United of European soccer and the New York Yankees.
The latest ranking, however, had the Cowboys No. 4, with Man U at one, and the Yankees (finally a World Series winner again) at two, surpassing the Cowboys. Another Euro soccer team, Real Madrid, came in third.
Jerry, your team has some work to do. Otherwise, your new stadium is really working.