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Jones' monument to himself a heap of corporate excess, football glory


Bugsy Siegel, in the 1991 film "Bugsy," walked into the desert and envisioned a glittering gambling palace.

Jerry Jones, in the 2009 real-life "Jerry," walked out of Texas Stadium and envisioned a bigger one across the parking lot or, well, in nearby Arlington, Texas.

Hello, Las Vegas.

Hello, Cowboys Stadium.

When I first saw Cowboys Stadium on NBC last week, I half-expected it to lift off the ground and return to Jupiter. It's not a football facility, it's a UFO with urinals.

You know the expression:

Money talks and [a word I cannot print] walks.

From the soil of the Texas terrain has risen Jerry Jones' $1.15-billion monument to himself (or as was said in "Citizen Kane" about Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu: "Cost: No man can say"). If we are in the midst of the rise and fall of the American empire, at least we're going down in a heap of corporate excess and gridiron glory.

As Jimmy Johnson might exclaim, "How 'bout that Cowboys Stadium!"

How large is it? Cowboys Stadium makes Super Walmart look like 7-Eleven. You could fit every Starbucks west of the Mississippi inside of it.

There are 120-foot glass doors that slide open at either end of the stadium; Windex costs alone put the team over the NFL salary cap.

Texas Stadium, built in 1971, was perfectly serviceable. Cowboys Stadium, sitting upon 73 acres of heartland that won't be grazed by cattle any time soon, is three times bigger than Texas Stadium. If Jones were elected president, he might knock down the White House and replace it with the Whiter House -- it would be the first government building with a retractable roof.

(Team of Destiny Update: Yes, I picked the Lions, and, yes, I was ridiculed. Let me ask this -- who among you had Barack Obama winning it all six months before the election? Well, the Lions kick-started their season with a 13-play, 99-yard drive against the Redskins. Come January, Mark Sanchez will be on the cover of Vogue and Matthew Stafford will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated as my Lions improbably roar into Super Bowl 44.)

Anyway, I have now seen the Roman Colosseum in person and Cowboys Stadium on TV, and there's no comparison. Cowboys Stadium is equipped with every modern convenience; the Colosseum's only advantage is that it doesn't have a giant video board interfering with play.

That's a funny structural flaw, no?

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The jumbo monitor is 72 feet high and 160 feet wide. It would take 4,920 52-inch flat-panel televisions to equal the video board's size; I assume it has a very, very, very, very, very large remote.

Somehow, they spent a billion bucks and nobody realized the screen was low enough to get in the way of a punted football. Do you know how many engineers, designers and architects overlooked that 11,500-square-foot mistake?

That's like building the Sears Tower and forgetting to install elevators.

Jones seemingly has two choices: Raise the video board or lower the playing field. He has opted for a third choice: Do nothing while watching somebody else's tax dollars work for him.

Those tax dollars are turning a pretty penny. The average ticket to a Cowboys game is $159.65; the cheapest seat is $59, though you can get standing-and-elbow-room-only for $29. Much of the parking goes for $75. For just a non-game-day stadium tour, it's $15 a person. At the moment, the toilets are free, though I suspect they eventually will charge for toilet paper.

And have you heard about the cost of pizza in the new Versailles?

Actually, that gives me a great health-care reform idea: Put all the insurance providers into Cowboys Stadium in the middle of summer, close the roof, turn off the air and make them buy $60 pizzas until they either run out of money or come up with a reasonable solution to serve their fellow Americans.

If they get restless, maybe Jones will comp them a tour of the stadium.

Q. A Russian billionaire is buying the New Jersey Nets? Do you foresee a preseason training camp in Siberia, a la "Rocky IV"? (Jim O'Brien; Racine, Wis.)

A. I don't think he'll have to go all the way to Siberia for a cold, stark and sterile environment: Bergen Mall will do.

Q. Why is it that the makers of Coors Light pride themselves on brewing, bottling and shipping their beer ice cold, but when you buy it at the beer distributor, it's warm? (J. Josephs; Pittsburgh)

A. I believe you have identified the very basis of American marketing-by-misdirection.

Q. Do you have a team of writers like Conan does, or do you make up this crap all by yourself? (Rich Busey; Rochester, Minn.)

A. Sadly, my wife Toni asked me this precise question maybe a week ago.

Q. Rather than adjust the start time for the Titans-Jets game to accommodate those fans observing Yom Kippur, why didn't NFL commissioner Roger Goodell simply postpone the holiday? (Scott D. Shuster; Watertown, Mass.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

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