It’s nice to know that, in these difficult economic times, there is help out there for poor souls like … Jerry Jones?
Jones last month unveiled the $1.15 billion palace — built with a sizable and involuntary contribution from taxpayers — where his Dallas Cowboys will be playing football for the foreseeable future. It opened to rave reviews before 60,188 fans at a country music concert
featuring George Strait as the headliner. Ex-Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson watched from proud Jerry’s suite. So did Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, while Gov. Rick Perry sat somewhere else.
Adjectives about Cowboy Stadium flowed like Texas crude: futuristic, cutting-edge, classy, plush. Perhaps the first $1 billion took care of the bare necessities while that last $150 million was spent on bells and whistles.
Sure, there’s some lingering sadness that Texas Stadium — the one with a hole in the roof — won’t be home to an NFL team any longer. That stadium, a steel-and-concrete lump nestled among the expressways in Irving, has looked anything but futuristic and plush in recent years. And the retail development it was supposed to spark when it opened in 1971? Well, that never happened.
But hope springs eternal, especially when politicians are throwing other people’s money at someone who is already rich.
There was considerable resentment when Arlington’s generous city fathers lured Jones away from Dallas. The mega-suburb ponied up $325 million in taxpayers’ money to help Jones make his mortgage payments. For its “contribution,” Jones recently gave the city a suite for use during Cowboy games. Tarrant County officials also kicked in $25 million in tax dollars. What will that earn them? A single seat in the nosebleed section?
There were rumors Jones was in some financial straits recently, but you’ll be glad to know the latest from Forbes magazine indicates he should be able to squeak through the recession. The football team he bought for $150 million in 1989 is now worth $1.2 billion. Jones’ net worth is put at $1.3 billion. Forbes doesn’t say whether that estimate was made before or after completion of the palace.
For Cowboys fans, the economic picture isn’t so rosy. All but the most remote seats at Cowboy Stadium require them to purchase a “seat option” before they can buy season tickets. The seat options range from $2,000 (top level, end zone) to $150,000 (second level, 50-yard-line) and are good for 30 years. Once they pay for the options, they get to pay for the season tickets, which range from $790 to $3,400 for the Cowboys’ eight home games. The cheapest of the cheap seats cost $59 for a single game.
Jones and the Cowboys may be recession-proof. The 2009 football season might tell us if Cowboys fans are.