Dallas Cowboys: 5 Reasons Cowboys Stadium Offers No Home-Field Advantage
Cowboys Stadium opened just a few months before the beginning of the 2009 NFL regular season. In fact, a sporting event wasn't even the first to take place at a huge and expensive venue that was built primarily for sports.
Country-music singers George Strait and Reba McEntire opened the place on June 6 and may have still delivered better entertainment than the football team that's been performing in the building at least ten times per year since.
Soccer clubs from Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Mexico and Haiti each played matches at Cowboys Stadium months before the Cowboys did.
Heading into the 2013 regular season, which is fast approaching, Dallas has a combined record of just 17-15—let me not forget to mention that the Cowboys have a perfect record of 1-0 in the postseason when playing at home. Otherwise, home games don't really offer much of an advantage to America's Team. If fact, a number of NFL teams from elsewhere in America feel quite at home in Arlington, Texas—NFC rivals from Chicago, New Orleans and New York are a perfect 6-0 when playing at Cowboys Stadium.
So why the lack of success at a new football palace that supposedly outshines all others on the NFL landscape?
Well, for starters anyway, Cowboys Stadium wasn't built just for football.
On the contrary, Cowboys Stadium was built to attract everything that it already has and will in the future. I'm talking about the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA Final Four, college football games, concerts, exhibitions—even women's bowling!
I'm going to offer five reasons why, to this point, Cowboys Stadium is far more useless to the Dallas Cowboys than it is to owner and general manager Jerry Jones and virtually all other temporary occupants or events that thrive at the five-year old building.
These reasons are not scientific but rather theoretical based on common sense.
Big Screen TV
If you have been to an NFL stadium to see a football game before then you realize that it's much different than watching a game in your living room or at a sports bar. Supposedly, at Cowboys Stadium you get the best of each of those worlds.
The 73-foot-by-160-foot hi-definition monitor that covers much of the football field is an amazing element, for sure. I just wonder how exciting it makes the actual game when it's often better to watch the tube than it is to focus on the field.
This is not a criticism of the seating at the stadium—there's really no seat that one would consider bad, unless you hate sitting in the end zones. This is simply to point out the possibility that when a given fan is focused on a television, they might not respond to the action on the field the same way.
Amazing sights are amazing sights, but they don't always encourage the kind of excitement and hyper-active response that is so valuable to a professional football team that's playing on it's home field.
Is the Dallas home crowd the twelfth man—or is it actually a giant TV that's now the second largest in the world?
Regular Season Schedule
Over the last two seasons, the Cowboys have played a total of four road games before arriving at Cowboys Stadium for their first home games in each season.
In fact, going back to 2009, the inaugural season, and 2010, Dallas still opened with road games before arriving in Arlington for Week 2 home openers.
There's something to be said for opening up the season at home. It doesn't necessarily guarantee a victory, but the Cowboys, traditionally, have a strong record when it comes to kicking off the season no matter where they play.
Having said that, it's somewhat stunning that Dallas had to wait until the coming season to finally open it's regular season schedule at home—this is a span of four years opening on the road, twice playing two games on the road before coming home.
Of all the on-the-field embarrassment associated with the brief history of Cowboys Stadium, perhaps 2013 will send the franchise and it's new stadium in a better direction.
Winning your first game guarantees a record of only 1-0, true. But the percentages of reaching the playoffs really go up for teams that start off that way as opposed to 0-1. Playing at home offers the best odds of getting off to a good start and Cowboys Stadium will finally get the chance to be a spring-board in just a few months.
When you go to a football game, you expect to see tight ends and split ends lining up during the action—but when a Victoria's Secret PINK location is among the first things you might see when entering Cowboys Stadium, we might be talking about the wrong kind of tight ends and split ends, if you know what I mean.
The concourse of Cowboys Stadium resembles an upper-scale shopping mall much more than it does a football stadium. While the impressive collection of sculptures and modern art is certainly nice to look at, it just doesn't get the juices flowing for a big-time football game—does it?
The merchandising at Cowboys Stadium boarders on ridiculous. It also offers proof that football is merely the stated focus for the venue. In other words, you can buy all of the women's lingerie you want at any event taking place at the stadium.
I get the fact that modern football stadiums want to be as versatile and capitalistic as possible, but if football is really the focus then this philosophy could come at a cost that's well beyond dollars and cents.
Go inside the stadium for a Cowboys game and it's hard to figure out the difference between whether or not a football game is going to take place or Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
And don't get me started on ScentAir pumping whatever that stuff is through the ventilation system at the stadium—a questionable ploy to make attendees spend as much money as possible. It doesn't seem like artificial fragrances do much to get the home crowd nice and loud, does it?
The Dallas fan base is the biggest in all professional sports.
Cowboys fans are also among the least patient and can definitely be categorized as fickle in some cases.
I recall this franchise's rapid decline following the mid-1980s culminating with the 3-13 debacle of 1988, the final season for head coach Tom Landry and apparently the crack in the window for completely different ownership.
Back in those days, you would catch all the road games you wanted on CBS, but the home games started getting blacked out pretty quick. It wasn't until 1991 that the Cowboys sold out the entire home schedule again following a few seasons of numerous blackouts—and Dallas needed the help of a local grocery store chain to accomplish that.
Yes, the Super Bowls followed shortly and I don't believe that a Dallas home game has failed to sell out since.
But the way things are going with this franchise in recent years, it wouldn't surprise me to see some serious attendance shortages as early as this season.
I also believe that Dallas fans are generally the most educated about the game of football, a game that takes on near-religious importance in many parts of Texas.
Over the time frame that Cowboys Stadium has been open, now-head coach Jason Garrett has been operating the silliest passing circus ever seen by the franchise.
If you recall the Cowboys' 34-30 loss to Detroit in 2011, you might also recall that Dallas led that game 27-3 early in the second half. Only Garrett's refusal to run the ball and the clock is why Detroit was able to claw it's way back and steal a game it had absolutely no business winning.
Things like this will really get under the skin of the home crowd—and Texans tend to not forget either.
Long History of Mediocrity
This might sound similar to the previous page, but it's actually broader.
It's no secret that Dallas has only won a single playoff game since the 1996 postseason. We are currently in the longest stretch of either futility or mediocrity in the history of the franchise. This falls squarely upon the shoulders of management as opposed to either Cowboys Stadium or now-destroyed Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys lost their first regular season game at the new building in 2009 against division rival New York Giants. While they did rebound nicely to grab that lone playoff victory later that same season, it's not like Dallas wasn't crushed the following week against the Vikings in Minnesota in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The franchise hasn't seen the postseason since.
Dallas is far removed from the big-game invincibility the team seemed to possess during the days of Jimmy Johnson, architect of a roster that would win three Super Bowls during a four year stretch without cheating.
When spending the kind of money that's now required to go buy women's underwear and catch a football game, one has to wonder how rabid the fans attending football games really are. And for those that are enthusiastic, what evidence do they have that the Cowboys will win any game they suit up to play at Cowboys Stadium.
Right now, the chances of the Cowboys winning at home, based on Cowboys Stadium's limited history, are slightly better than 50 percent. It's not like home field dominance suddenly stopped with the passing of Texas Stadium either.
Dallas' home record from 2000 through 2008, the year prior to the opening of Cowboys Stadium, was 42-30—not horrible but far from what anybody would consider dominant. In fact, Dallas was no better closing Texas Stadium than it was opening Cowboys Stadium, both of those games completely humiliating on the national stage.
That's not a real encouraging outlook, although things can certainly change.