The Dallas Cowboys Stadium Video Board: Gimme Some High Def

If you are a sports fan, or even a stadium / architectural junkie, there has been much written and discussed about the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Besides the cost of 1.15 billion Texas bucks, amazing engineering, the lavish interior, retractable end zone glass doors and roof — the largest enclosed NFL stadium is a visual jaw dropping experience when viewed in person.

As a life long Dallas Cowboys (and Tennessee Titans) fan, I recently took advantage of Southwest Airline’s fare sale to catch a game day experience at the new Cowboys Stadium.  I purposed to take my camera and capture as many shots as possible, and concentrate on the Cowboys – Chargers game as a secondary priority. As a gadget junkie, I had to see the HD video board in person!

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington Texas

After paying a (gasp!) $50 parking fee across the Texas Rangers baseball stadium, I hiked the long 4 blocks to see the Cowboys and Chargers’ faithful fans taking pictures of the stadium. The stadium shimmers in the afternoon sun with its glass walls in Cowboy blue and silver. The parking lots were marked with pictures of former players on the sprawling 73-acre site.

After the gates opened at 12 noon for the 3:15 pm kickoff, there was another wait of an hour before the stadium doors opened. Meanwhile, I watched the Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints game on the two jumbo size boards that hung outside the arches. Looking up, there were five 38-foot panel glass doors totaling 180 foot wide by 120 foot high that later opened to create a plaza at each end of the stadium.

I opted for the cheap seats – $29 for a Standing Room Only Party Pass located in the end zone area on different levels. My intention was to roam the stadium after the third quarter, but the close game held me in check until the bitter end. Besides, I landed a good standing spot with a clear sight of the field with a 12” counter to lean on – and for photography purposes it was perfect.

Paying homage to Texas Stadium with the open roof

My feet survived – nearly seven hours in one spot. I did buy a beer ($8.00) for the guy behind me to hold my spot while I went to the restroom, and a Good Samaritan fetched some nachos and water for me at $13.50. I have to think long and hard about purchasing a single game seat next year – the tickets in the upper concourse were running about $178.00 prior to my trip! Thankfully, I packed an extra bladder and had great tennis shoes to withstand the fun I had as a NFL fan.

The stadium experience was breathtaking. One can’t help but to marvel at all of the extravagance of the design, and massive size of the stadium. With the retractable roof and glass doors opened, the cool December breeze was perfect football weather. I thought the sight lines were perfect from where I stood in the end zone area.

View from the endzone

The next day on the stadium tour ($15), the video screen that stretches from the 20 to the 20-yard line offered stunning views from almost every sideline to sideline angle of the mammoth stadium for the 80,000 plus in attendance. There were a few crappy seats in the upper areas in the end zones so buyers beware. But think about it; seven stories tall in high definition one hundred sixty wide (not diagonal!) The experience was akin to going to a brand new movie theatre watching a live action football game in comfortable seats.

Here are some facts about the video board:

  • Produced by Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision TM, each of the four sides of the center-hung LED display is the world’s largest: 72’ high by 160’ wide equating 11,520 square feet per side or 23,040 square feet of sideline displays. It would take 4,920 52” flat panel TVs to equal the size.
  • Each side consists of the first true 1080 HD display in a NFL stadium – 1080 true pixels in height at 20mm spacing and capable of displaying HDTV at 1920 x 1080 (16:9) resolution.
  • Each display contains over 10.5 million Light Emitting Diodes’ (LEDs) using Mitsubishi’s 10mm quad pixel pattern technology. The LEDs are contained within 5,168 individual lighting units or panels per side or 10,336 total. The video board uses 30 million light bulbs.
  • The video board weighs 1.2 million pounds and the video screens span 25,670 square feet. The overall weight of the video board structure is more than 3.5 percent of the total roof weight.
  • To hold the video board in place, a 72-foot tall steel structure was created that contains a 10-level network of catwalks. Three-inch diameter steel cables grip each end of the video board and are tethered to the stadium’s large steel box truss arches. The center-hung structure is also designed to support a 90,000-pound basketball arena style scoreboard hung from below when needed for other events.
  • Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision TM also supplied four 280 square foot screens on the lower concourse; an upper level fascia (ribbon) display measuring four feet high by nearly 2,000 linear feet; and two Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor displays totaling more than 2,900 square feet.

Source: Dallas Cowboys Star GameDay

Party Pass patrons only get to view the end zone screens, which measure 27 feet tall by 48 feet wide. However, there are monitors over each concession line, in the bathrooms, suites and party zones totaling over 2800. Word has it that the Cowboys are adding over 2000 additional monitors for the 2011 Super Bowl. Each monitor has its own IP address to serve up different content from advertisements to game action and highlights.

My initial thought was that the video screens would be cluttered with advertisements during the game. Rather, the 4-foot “ribbons” that circled the stadium displayed advertisements, game scores, and penalty notices. There was nothing but game footage during live action.

Linear ribbons of advertisements and announcements

Another impressive viewing experience of how defined the images appeared on the screen. Just about all of the jumbo screens I’ve seen are very pixilated; I was delighted to see how clear the close ups of the player’s faces appeared and especially on the photographs I took.

Closeup shot of LB DeMarcus Ware

Whether you love or hate the Cowboys, the sheer architecture is worth a view whether for a game, concert or any other event. With affordable daily tours lasting approximately an hour, viewing all of the inner stadium access of the suites, lavish interiors, graphics, locker rooms and field level hospitality areas is a stunning experience.

Miller Lite Club area at field level

Bring a camera and plan on taking over a thousand photos. I’m not sure if I will ever have a game experience quite like a Cowboys home game.

On the web:

My Flickr Set: Dallas Cowboys Stadium

BallParks.com/Dallas Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys Stadium

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