This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
Architects, journalists, and fans have toured various sports stadia to compare and comment on their myriad cozy charms and spectacular vistas. One of my favorites is Camden Yards, technically called Oriole Park, home of the Baltimore Orioles. Fairly new, finished in 1992, its intimacy, nestled within its urban surroundings, its eye-pleasing asymmetrical field pay homage to the magnificent urban ballparks built in the early 1900's. Brooklyn's famous Ebbets Field, Chicago's historic Wrigley Field, the BoSox' huggable Fenway Park. And the brand-spanking new sports stadia, such as Petco Park with its sweeping views of San Diego Bay and Busch Stadium with its telescopic zoom toward the Gateway Arch, are 21st-century models of modern location, steps away from the whole-family engagement in city restaurants and retail shopping. But with all these magnificent structures, I hadn't had my breath taken away by a new sports arena until the Beijing Olympic Games. Those night-time helicopter shots of the Olympic Stadium, the "Bird's Nest" were pure magic.
So when this past Sunday night, during the music video montage that opened NBC's big marquee match-up between historic rivals, the Cowboys and the Giants, I was shaking my head with cynicism when beautiful shots of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and the Roman Coliseum were obviously used to lead up to the introduction of the new, long-hyped, Cowboys Stadium. "Come on", I was grousing, "Don't tell me the new home of the Cowboys is being paralleled with the man-made Wonders of the World."
Then the first aerial of the stadium came into view. I tell you I was stunned. Like a grandiose Howard Hughes airport hangar, gigantic retractable walls opened at each end, the sliding roof agape and revealing more than 100,000 colorful fans inside, this stadium glimmered like a precious jewel. All through the game, even with its high drama and nail-biting finish, I was keen to see yet more of this striking, unique edifice.
The ultimate eye candy of the $1.2 billion stadium is the seven-story (yes seven-story) video screen, the images crystal clear across its 160-foot width. This screen is Texas big as all outdoors. Many math stats have been used to help us mentally calculate the screen's enormity. The one that hits me is that 4,200 52-inch flat-panel televisions would fit sort of like Scrabble tiles across the face of this giant.
As the Roman Coliseum was a reflection of that culture's breadth -- a place for the acting out of the works of great writers, a religious center where animals were sacrificed, a looming circle of 80 grandiose arches, where 50,000 people could witness larger-than-life spectacles -- this Cowboys Stadium is more than the house where Tony Romo holds court.
Fourteen enormous contemporary works of art have been commissioned for the entranceways, the stairwells, and the towering walls along the concession stands. One piece, Franz Ackermann's splash of color installation titled "Coming Home at the Waterfall" is five-stories high. Whereas we're used to statues of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron at other sports venues, and Cowboys Stadium does display Texas Stadium's old nine-foot bronze of Coach Tom Landry in all his iconic-fedora glory, it really isn't hyperbole to call the art and architecture of this new structure a "modern wonder".
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And that's The Score.
Interior image: HKS Architects