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Sunday, February 14, 2010
Small notes from a big stadium

By Henry Abbott

Cowboys Stadium

Scott Boehm/Getty Images
It's called Cowboys Stadium. But the feel of the place is more Cowboys Death Star.

If you're visiting, say, somebody's apartment building for the first time, it's possible you could get lost. If you're visiting an NBA arena, and you get lost, well, you could end up walking for five or ten minutes. If you get lost in Cowboys Stadium, you're toast. One missed turn, and it could be all over. Flares, GPS, camping supplies ... maybe even one of those personal locator beacons people wear in avalanche zones ... these are the things to pack. No matter what's going on in the arena, it's hard to be focus on anything beyond the sheer enormity of the place.

Before arriving, I thought when I got here I'd want to explore. Now that I'm here, I'm not going to stray too far from my seat for fear I won't make it back.

At just about every NBA event, they launch t-shirts into the crowd. With various devices, they can get those shirts to the fans in the cheap seats. Here, I have not seen a single t-shirt escape the football playing field, which is covered in expensive seats. The force it would take to get a t-shirt to the back rows here would surely be lethal.

The stairways all look the same. Even people who work here wonder where things are. The hallways are longer than you can imagine, and so wide that two cars can pass each other. And they actually do.

The biggest thing of it all is the view. The court is maybe 20 feet in front of me, but it's a thousandth of what's in my field of vision. Those 24 players on the court are bit players in a tableau featuring more than 100,000.