Super Bowl to be super-sized in big Texas venue

By Ed Stoddard

ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - Some say everything is bigger in Texas and when fans come to Arlington for Super Bowl XLV on February 6, they will see that claim may not be such a tall tale.

For starters, the $1.2 billion stadium that opened in 2009 claims to be the largest NFL venue ever built. Around 100,000 fans will watch the Super Bowl, a record for the showcase game, although the stadium can hold more people.

Last year, it had a record basketball crowd of 108,713 for the NBA's annual All-Star game and extravaganza.

Fans in the upper-level "cheap seats" need not bring binoculars as they can view the action and replays on a massive video board - the largest of its kind in the world, of course - that hangs from the roof 90 feet above the field.

Its measurements are all super-sized: The sideline boards measure 72 feet tall by 160 feet wide, while those facing the end zones measure 27 feet tall by 48 feet wide. It would take almost 5,000 52-inch flat panel TVs to equal it in size.

At 660,800 square feet, the roof is one of the largest domed sports structures in the world. The 180-foot-wide by 120-foot-high doors at each end of the stadium, are also the largest operable glass doors in the world.

The whole thing has been crafted to dazzle. Designer HKS said at the time of its opening that it was built to reflect "the time-honored traditions and timeless dynamic nature of the Dallas Cowboys."

But not everyone has been dazzled and a critic for the New York Times wrote:

"... its enormous retractable roof, acres of parking and cavernous interiors are straight out of Eisenhower's America, with its embrace of car culture and a grandiose, bigger-is-better mentality.

"The result is a somewhat crude reworking of old ideas, one that looks especially unoriginal when compared with the sophisticated and often dazzling stadiums that have been built in Europe and the Far East over the last few years."

Still, the technology involved is cutting edge and its status in this regard may be unrivaled for some time with no immediate plans to start building new NFL stadia elsewhere.

And in what some have seen as a testimony to the resilience of the Texas economy, the stadium was completed in the depths of a "Great Recession" and remains a money-maker.

But not all north Texans have deep pockets and some locals complain about the stadium's steep prices for everything from beer to tickets to parking.

Some are also turned off by its association with the Cowboys' flamboyant owner Jerry Jones, a love-hate figure among legions of football fans.

"The prices are ridiculous," said Bob Schultz, a local Vietnam veteran and retiree who has been to a high school football game at the stadium -- the only event there he said that he could afford to attend.

"Jerry built a monument to his own ego in an attempt to set attendance records," he said.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)