Give Jerry the businessman his due

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jerry Jones' image appeared on the humongous video board at AT&T Stadium, as you knew it would sooner or later, during Saturday's Wisconsin-Florida basketball game.

The crowd booed the Dallas Cowboys owner because, you know, that's what they're supposed to do.

In this case, folks should've cheered. Hey, a standing ovation wouldn't have really been out of order.

Seriously. Sadly, Jerry has been a disaster as the Cowboys' owner for parts of three decades. We know this, and he should be pointedly chastised at every opportunity since he's ultimately in charge of a franchise that has just one playoff win in 17 seasons.

That's as embarrassing as it gets for a franchise with eight Super Bowl appearances.

His struggles as a football owner, though, shouldn't affect your feelings toward Jerry the businessman and marketing genius. As hard as it is, you must separate the two.

After all, Jerry and his $1.2 billion stadium has made Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington one of this country's few sports meccas -- and it's not changing anytime soon.

We can join New Orleans, Indianapolis as one of the few cities that can contend for the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff championship game and the Final Four on a regular basis.

No one throws a better party than Jerry, which means the bigwigs who make the final decisions about whether a Final Four or Super Bowl or NBA All-Star Game is coming to Dallas will always have an unbelievable time from a personal perspective.

And they're always going to make enough cash to ensure a return visit.

The NCAA tournament could generate more than $276 million in spending and other financial income in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to the Major Events Trust Fund, which operates under the Governor of Texas' Office of Economic Development and Tourism. Hotel and restaurant managers as well as other folks in the service industry such as bellmen, cab drivers and food service workers have all made money this weekend. Bottom line: When it's all said and done everything is always about cash. And JerryWorld generates plenty of it, which is why it's always going to be in the rotation for events such as the Final Four. If you're a sports fan, you should be ecstatic.

Since JerryWorld opened in 2009, we've had an NBA All-Star Game, an NCAA basketball regional, a couple of Big 12 championships and the Cotton Bowl.

The Cowboys Classic features a top college football matchup each season in August. This year, it pits defending champion Florida State versus Oklahoma State. Texas A&M and Arkansas will play each year through 2020 at AT&T Stadium, and other teams such as Notre Dame and Arizona State played a regular-season game in the stadium last year.

The first College Football Playoff championship game will be played here in January.

Nearly 80,000 attended Saturday's Final Four games, establishing a new record for the Final Four. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Now, the basketball purists will tell you basketball should be played in an intimate atmosphere where we can all hear the squeak of $200 Nikes and adidas on the floor as players maneuver on the court.

They would love an environment where we can hear what the coaches yell to the players and fans farthest from the court wouldn't need binoculars.


The Kentucky fan with the worst seat in AT&T Stadium could not have cared less when Aaron Harrison made a 25-foot 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats a one-point lead with five seconds left.

That fan shared an experience with 79,444 other folks he'll remember for a lifetime. It was priceless.

This may sound strange but folks don't really buy tickets to the Final Four or the Super Bowl because they want a great seat or a great view of the game. They want the ambiance.

They want to be with other alums -- young and old alike. Parents want to share the experience with their kids. College pals now with families want to relive the emotions they experienced as kids.

Anyone who watches a basketball game in a football stadium comes for the atmosphere, whether we're talking about a Final Four game or the regular-season game between Texas and North Carolina in 2009.

Most folks who could afford a ticket to the Final Four have the ability to watch a game on a 60-inch HD screen at home, where a bottle of water doesn't cost $4, parking isn't $75 and it doesn't take more than an hour to leave the parking lot after the game.

The inflated prices and inconvenience is worth it for the lure of being in the building when history occurs or Harrison sends his team to the championship game.

Even Wisconsin fans won't forget the heart their team displayed rallying after Kentucky's 15-0 second-half run threatened to turn the game into a blowout. You think UConn's fans are complaining about ticket and parking prices after their team's improbable win over Florida? Heck no.

This is the beauty of sport. The beauty of Jerry's stadium is it gives those who live in Dallas-Fort Worth a chance to experience these events up close -- even if all they do is take their kids to the Final Four practices.

The opportunity alone is worth giving Jerry a hand clap just this once. When football season starts, feel free to boo.