Confession: I haven't been to an NFL game in person in almost 10 years.
In late 2005, the Cowboys were on the glidepath to the playoffs through 11 weeks, with a 7-3 record. The run-in schedule was brutal; of their last six games, five were against teams that ended up winning 10 games three of which were on the road. Four of the five preceding the final game of their season was an intensely close game. An overtime loss against the Denver Broncos and a one-point loss to the Giants following set up a phenomenal playoff run. Everyone in my crew was a Cowboys fan. I was headed to South Carolina for basic training in early 2006, so this was the last time I'd get to roll with the boys to Texas Stadium, a relic that outmoded to the point the discussions had begun about where Jerry Jones' vision of a stadium of the future would be built.
It only made sense that the Cowboys would close out their season against the Rams on my birthday. It only made sense that I would get a birthday gift in the form of a 20-10 Rams win just hours after a Redskins victory had ensured the Cowboys would miss out on the postseason.
That was January 1, 2006. I haven't stepped foot in an NFL stadium since. And for the most part, that's fine. The experience has moved well away from attending a football game to...well, something else.
AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play, has a Party Pass which grants you admission to the stadium without a seat...which still gives you a decent view of the gigantic screens above the field, a feature that's becoming more and more popular at stadiums across the country. In fact, the biggest is now at EverBank Field, the home field for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In addition to the scoreboard? Pool cabanas. Attending a football game, and you can expand this to other American sports certainly, is becoming less and less about the ability to watch the game.
So with the future of the St. Louis Rams' home grounds on completely uncertain terms, I'll turn it over to you guys. What do you want to see out of a future Rams home stadium?
Do you want the kind of architecture that allows for greater noise levels to be trapped in the stadium, assuming the team is giving the home fans reason to reach the upper tier of possible human decibel levels? Is it amenities like scoreboard and pools and who knows what else could push the limits of in-stadium entertainment? Do you want it to blend into a city and meld with the identity of an urban layout like Heinz Field in Pittsburgh or the Superdome? Or do you want a behemoth of modern industry that swallows up the landscape like AT&T Stadium or MetLife Stadium near New York?