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Point, counterpoint: Lambeau Field or Cowboys Stadium?

Posted Jul 12, 2011

Vic KetchmanPackers.com Editor Vic Ketchman says Lambeau Field is the place.

A football stadium is a place of comfort for me. It’s a place where I feel at ease.

Make no mistake about it, Lambeau Field is a football stadium. Every nook and cranny of the place screams football, and that’s why, even though I’ve only covered a handful of games at Lambeau Field, I’ve never sat down in its press box and not felt comfortable.

So why didn’t I experience the same ease at Cowboys Stadium, which I twice visited last season? I mean, the place is fantastic, but I didn’t like it. Why not?

It’s because it’s too fantastic. It’s not a football stadium; it’s something more than that and I don’t want to watch football in a place that doesn’t feel like football. Cowboys Stadium feels like money, and I didn’t like that feeling at all, twice.

Lambeau Field gives you a choice. You can look down onto the field and enjoy football the old-fashioned way, or you can sneak a peek at the video board for a dash of football the high-tech way. Conversely, Cowboys Stadium threatens to crush the field with a video board that hangs over the game and makes its participants appear small.

Packers players enter the playing field at Lambeau by passing through a tunnel and over bricks on which Lombardi, Starr and company walked. Cowboys players enter the Cowboys Stadium playing field by passing through a sports bar.

When visitors to Lambeau Field ask, “Which end zone is it?” they are inquiring as to which end zone Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown in the “Ice Bowl.” A visitor to Cowboys Stadium might inquire as to which end zone do the go-go dancers dance.

The biggest problem I had covering a game at Cowboys Stadium last fall is that the end zone press box had the game moving to and from me, the big video board had it going one way, and the TV monitor in the press box had it going another way. I wish I had just brought my binoculars because all of that technology had my eyes rollin’ around in my head.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful building. It’s just that it’s too much. I don’t get the sense of football in the air. The Cowboys have a wonderful history and strong tradition, but I didn’t get a sense of either. Hey, give me the old-fashioned Texas Stadium shadows.

Lambeau Field, on the other hand, reveres its history and its traditions. Major renovations have not compromised Lambeau a bit. Lombardi still lives there and you feel his presence.

I like sitting in the Lambeau Field press box in pregame, looking out over the top of the stadium and watching the smoke rise from the tailgate fires. I like the idea that the way it is now is the way it was a long time ago, just a whole lot of football fans going to a football stadium to watch a football game.

That’s all I need. I’ll leave the giant video board, sports bar and go-go dancers for those who need more than just football.

Mike SpoffordPackers.com Staff Writer Mike Spofford makes the case for Cowboys Stadium.

Look, I’m not going to file an indictment against Lambeau Field. It’s gorgeous, it’s iconic, it’s historic.

It also only works, realistically, for a fan base as loyal, fervent and steeped in tradition as Green Bay’s. Make metal bleachers account for nearly 60,000 seats in other stadiums and the rest of the league will have plenty of fans preferring the cushions on their couch, thank you.

Like it or not, Jerry Jones’ billion-dollar monstrosity in North Texas is the wave of the future in the NFL. It’s ahead of its time, but not by much.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is among those who have gone on record saying that in the world of large-screen, high-definition television, stadiums have to offer fans something to make them want to give up that great viewing experience in their own home. He’s right.

When the picture quality shows you the sweat dripping from Clay Matthews’ hair, and the NFL’s own “Red Zone” channel hops around to update scoring plays, live, from all games around the league, who wants to sit in Row 25 of the upper deck and pay a premium to focus on one game through a pair of binoculars?

Selling tickets isn’t a problem at Lambeau, for numerous reasons. It is a problem in a lot of other places, and all that revenue counts. The games have to sell out for them to be on TV in the first place, right?

Jones is onto something with his 60-yard wide video boards. Fans in Dallas get the experience of the live action, fan fever, and all the high-definition replays of a DVR, plus game highlights and fantasy stats from around the league. It trumps any home theater, which has to be the standard for the NFL.

That standard doesn’t necessarily apply to other sports. Baseball and hockey, for example, are completely different sports, visually speaking, in person versus on TV. They’re not made for television. Football is, all the way down to a coach’s replay challenges.

Jones probably has angered plenty of owners with what he’s built, but in the end they’ll thank him. If the technology in the living room continues to outpace the technology in a football stadium, the game is in trouble and no one wants to see franchises struggle. It’s bad for the league, revenue-wise and image-wise.

Cowboys Stadium has brought as much as one can under a football roof and it should only lead to more stadium improvements across the league. The Packers are upgrading their sound system this year and installing new video boards and have been planning for additional seating – indoor and outdoor – in the near future, as well.

If this franchise takes the same approach to these improvements as it did to the larger renovation a decade ago – and there’s every reason to believe it will – the mystique and aura of Lambeau Field won’t suffer in the slightest. It’ll be an even better place to watch a game, whether in indoor comfort or on the frozen bleachers.

Other stadiums that don’t have the intangibles that Lambeau does will have to do even more to fill their stadiums, and that’s not a bad thing for fans or the NFL.

***

So, which opinion do you support?

 
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