The Dallas Cowboys opened training camp with the high expectations that follow a division-winning year and active offseason, so July seems an odd time to be thinking about future camps.
But with what’s going on in Frisco, Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones couldn’t help himself.
“It’s going to be very hard not to spend a majority of our time here,” Jones said on Saturday as he joined community leaders in marking the halfway point of construction on the Dallas Cowboys headquarters and 12,000-foot indoor stadium-special events center the team will share with the city of Frisco and Frisco Independent School District.
Before speaking to journalists, Jones and others watched work on one of the 12 trusses that will span the 557,881-square-foot event center. Each truss spans approximately 400 feet and weighs 1,250 tons.
“It’s going to be the finest high school stadium in the country, and I think it’s going to be the finest professional football facility as well,” Jones said.
The Cowboys left Valley Ranch this week to open camp in Oxnard, Calif. Next year when the team does that, it will be for the final time, Jones said.
By the time camp ends in California next year, the headquarters and new training facilities should be ready for the team’s return to Texas, he said.
That doesn’t mean the team’s training camp travels will come to an end.
Jones still sees brand-building benefits of spending portions of training camp elsewhere such as Oxnard or San Antonio, but the Frisco facilities will be very conducive to training camp and the Dallas Cowboys will want to take advantage of the fan-connecting opportunities there, too, he said.
“There’s a bunch of fans here in North Texas that don’t make it to the games, and it’s not economical for them,” Jones said. “This will give them a chance to come out here and bring their families.”
Opportunities for families will go beyond watching the Dallas Cowboys practice.
“The multi-use events center itself will be an unbelievable venue that will host many public events . . . creating unbelievable opportunities for our students, athletically and academically,” Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said.
But those opportunities come with a dilemma for Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon: Which of Frisco’s several high schools should get to host the first game?
Lyon’s solution: “How about an all-day extravaganza where we have eight high school football teams in Frisco playing one another on that opening week?”
Jones said his family is excited about the way the new facilities, which include two outdoor fields as well as the one indoors, will bring Dallas Cowboys and high school players together.
“It really gives me goosebumps to think about what’s going to happen when these kids are rubbing shoulders with the Dallas Cowboys when they come off the field and Tony Romo is walking on,” Jones said.
Crews for Manhattan Construction Company broke ground on the projects in August 2014, and despite heavy rains this spring, the projects are still on schedule, Maso said.
As part of their partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, the city of Frisco and Frisco ISD are contributing $115 million toward the team’s headquarters and the special events center. The team, which has a 25-year agreement to manage and operate the publicly-owned facilities, will cover whatever costs exceed that amount plus pay $100,000 annually to lease the facilities.
The Star in Frisco, as the new development is called, covers 91 acres, including 5 acres for the Cowboys headquarters, 20 for the special events center and the remainder for a mixed-use development. The $1 billion development at the northwest corner of Warren Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway will include a hotel as well as office, retail and restaurant space and is helping generate other activity in Frisco.
“The synergy surrounding this project is incredible,” Maso said. “Since announcing our public-private partnership, development around this project has evolved into, what we’re calling, Frisco’s ‘$5 Billion Mile’.”