Texas Stadium Demolished; Developers Make Plans

Dallas area residents awoke early Sunday to a booming roar that sounded like a cross between thunder and Baghdad bombs. It was just the city of Irving imploding Texas Stadium, former home of the Dallas Cowboys.

It took one ton of dynamite, $6 million and about 30 seconds to level the 40-year old stadium (seating capacity 65,675) that housed "America's team" since 1971.

Once Texas stadium was reduced to rubble, it left Irving, a community of 210,000, with 350 newly vacant acres just seven miles from downtown Dallas. Talk about prime real estate: The area is less than a mile from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport terminals and at the third-busiest highway crossroads in the area, where 700,000 cars pass daily.
"It's one of the largest and potentially last major pieces of land of that size and infrastructure smack in the middle of the metroplex," says Irving City Councilman Rick Stopfer. "In one of the nation's fastest-growing metro areas in the nation: 7.5 million today expected to double by 2030."

To find any undeveloped land of similar size or significance, said Stopfer, you'd have to travel miles north of Dallas.

Almost to Oklahoma.

Why did Irving topple the stadium and not retain it for another use? Cost. The stadium had a hole in the roof because there were plans to make it retractable. But as Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis said, that hole let "God watch his favorite team play."

After the 2008 season the Dallas Cowboys moved to owner Jerry Jones' new $1.3 billion state-of-the-art stadium in neighboring Arlington, west of Irving. Cowboys Stadium is where Superbowl XLV will be played next year.

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In order to lease out the Cowboys' former home Irving would have had to improve the old stadium --- the roof was re-painted in 2006 to the tune of $400,000 after it had become a bit shabby. Just keeping the electricity on would cost Irving $250,000 per month, and probably more during 100-degree-plus July and August heat.

So the bean-counters decided the best use of the land would come from scrapping the old stadium. With 60 percent of the traffic from the country's largest airport heading past the site, Irving leaders felt they were sitting on a real-estate gold mine.

First of all, public transportation is planned for the busy roads nearby. Millions of dollars have been committed to creating a light-rail system that will connect Dallas' Love Field, the city's smaller in-town airport, with Manhattan-sized DFW located midway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

A stop is on the drawing board for the former stadium site, which would make it highly attractive to a developer interested in creating high-density, multi-use development where residents could live, work and play. As Irving's Stopfer says, 350 acres lends itself well to that. The councilman also envisions a huge Mayo Clinic-like medical facility or educational center.

The land's value? Depending on the future of the rail line it could be $25 million to $50 million for the whole lot. Irving doesn't expect it to depreciate, says Stopfer.

Meanwhile the city is leasing the land for 10 years to the Texas Department of Transportation for $1.5 million per year, which is almost the same revenue produced by the stadium when it was active.

Irving plans to preserve parts of the old stadium, such as its famous beams, in an artistic memorial on the property and
Texas Stadium seats and other memorabilia are being auctioned off.

There should be a market for that too. More than 20,000 turned out for a last tailgate party shortly after dawn. Tears filled many eyes, including those of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and his daughter and granddaughter. Jones has owned the Cowboys since 1989.

Several businesses tried to convince the community to keep the old stadium.

One company wanted to create an indoor ski resort, akin to Bearfire Resorts' 2007 plans for artificial mountains and snow skiing in Dallas/Fort Worth, not far from the former stadium. Former House Majority leader Dick Armey was listed as an adviser to the project.

And Dallas/Fort Worth came close to having other cutting-edge businesses such as Marco Polo World, an adventure venue tracing the Venetian explorer's epic Asian travels.

But the most creative idea may well have been from the folks who wanted to erect the world's first ever Arachnid World--sort of a bigger-than-life, world-class spider museum. They planned to paint the dome-shaped stadium jet black to create a huge spider body, adding two antennae and multiple legs.

A giant spider spectacular where Billy Graham spoke, George Strait and Jimmy Buffet crooned, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditioned? Grab the Raid.

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