2-27-00 BY GEOFF HOBSON
America's Team is looking at the heartland in its on-going quest to build a new facility in Dallas. A posse of Cowboys' officials left Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium Tuesday with a saddlebag of notes.
"Without offending other people in the league, this one ranks up here as one of the best," said Stephen Jones, the club's executive vice president of player personnel and his father's right hand.
"Oh my gosh, this is beautiful. The thing that draws our attention is what drew us to Carolina," said Jones, son of Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, president and general manager. "Having the club on site at the stadium is what we're trying to accomplish. That's very appealing to us and it's been well put together here. You've got the river and that makes it unique."
The Cowboys are looking for a site and funding in their bid to replace suddenly old Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The club is currently focusing on the financial piece with Stephen Jones indicating he's looking at the same three elements that have carried the stadium boom: public, private and fans.
"The percentages change depending which area you're looking at, but I would see us using the same three legs," Jones said.
The Bengals used a similar formula with Hamilton County in building a facility they price at $330 million, a number the Cowboys find quite economical in the wake of the latest facility flurry.
NFL sources put the new Cleveland Browns Stadium at more than $380 million and Denver's new stadium at more than $400 million, while renovations in Green Bay and Chicago are around $500 million. Early cost estimates for a new baseball park in Philadelphia back in June were $645 million, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Bengals have argued the widely reported $450 million figure for PBS is misleading because about
$100 million of the cost is linked to the desire of city officials and business leaders to move the stadium several blocks west to open up the central riverfront for development. Building the football stadium cost $330 million, but re-building the riverfront cost another $100 million.
The Bengals wanted the stadium just west
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of the Suspension Bridge. But when they relented, the move added $80 million in land and site preparation costs. Then, when a dispute between the City and County delayed transferring land needed for construction, the tighter schedule produced $20 million of the $50 million in over-runs.
The Cowboys are learning about cost over-runs because history says they will have them. The over-run for PBS is 11 percent of the project budget. The TWA Dome in St. Louis was also $50 million over, or 16 percent.
According to local media reports, Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville is 17 percent over and the stadiums in Cleveland and Jacksonville 10 percent.
Baseball parks have been worse. Safeco Field in Seattle hit $100 million in over-runs for 24 percent and The Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix ran up $70 million, or 20 percent.
Even Riverfront Stadium, the building PBS replaced, hit 38 percent of its budget on over-runs. And closer to home in this era, the Fort Washington Way budget began at $146 million and finished at $324 million.
So the Cowboys are more than educated.
"We've been pretty much everywhere and we're looking at everything," Jones said. "From funding to architecture to contractors, it's all over the board. If we played a game (at a new stadium), we walked through it all weekend."
It was a good season to do it because the Cowboys played in Carolina, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Tennessee last year. They've also been to Cleveland and Denver and are planning trips to Seattle and Detroit.
Members of the Jones group were impressed with the architecture, materials and craftsmanship at PBS compared to their other stops.
But the Cowboys will have one thing the Bengals will never have.
"Because of the heat in the summer and September, we have to have a roof," Jones said. "Something that's movable, something that we can slide so we can open and close it."