Saturday, November 24, 2007


My Dad was an original season ticket holder with the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and a shareholder in the Cotton Bowl. I remember the anticipation that first year when he took me to a couple of Cowboy games and we sat in what was known then as the “Red Carpet” section (between the forty-fives) on the home side of the Cotton Bowl. I don’t remember who the Cowboys played though they would have been losses as a team of neophytes and has-beens struggled to keep their dignity through a 0-11-1 season. God bless Coach Tom Landry…

Always a staunch fan of the Cowboys, Dad kept those season tickets until the day he died in 1984. He developed friendships with many of those that sat in close proximity to him even to their transfer to Texas Stadium. In short, he was a true fan (more later) of the game that he played himself as a young man. Those tickets were proudly passed down to his fourth son, Coby Buxton, who despite the pressures of substantially increasing costs, ridiculous parking fees and $7.00 beer has kept his head high for Family and The Cowboys. All that might be ending, and probably not too soon.

Up to now there have been a lot of Coby Buxtons who through the thick and thin of pretty tough economic times and smaller checking accounts have prevailed as Dallas Cowboy season ticket holders because they were true FANS.

All that is lost on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who despite several generations of admirable loyalty is laying the price tag for the Cowboy’s share of the one billion+ US dollars cost of the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas ($675 million) squarely in the laps of his season ticket holders. The recently released price of tickets for season ticket holders includes a sobering, even somber reality that will see the price of the now $124.00 ticket almost triple in cost to $340.00 (Yikes).

That’s not the end; rather the beginning of what I feel is true extortion especially for those loyal, long time season ticket holders. Jones will be requiring his season ticket holders to pay nonrefundable “seat options” of from $16,000.00 to $50,000 per seat for the right to purchase season tickets for thirty years. For Coby and his two upper bowl, almost Club Level seats that will mean breaking into his piggy bank and forking over from $32,000.00 to $100,000.00 for the privilege. I think this is insane and so does Coby.

Some say that this is not all doom and gloom since the licenses are transferable and can rise in value. Eureka. That said, the seating licenses offered by some NFL teams have actually gone down in value and substantially so.

Fans generally demonstrate an intense sometimes obsessed/manic almost religious following for their teams. On TV yesterday I saw a Cowboy fan who painted a Cowboy helmet on his bald head, face mask and all who, no doubt, helped the Cowboys to their best start in franchise history (10-1) by defeating the NY Jets, 34-3. I got reacquainted with Uncle Sam and there were a few Elvis sightings. Of course, when you describe true fans you have to include the famous Washington Redskins Hogettes and those crazy Viking fans who used show up for football games in old Metropolitan Stadium in sub zero weather with those horned helmets and hardly anything else on. We never needed to do that in Dallas as we have the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Nuff said.

Scott Thorne and Gordon C. Bruner II in their 2006 "An Exploratory Investigation of the Characteristics of Consumer Fanaticism" identifies fan characteristics that includes the strong desire of the fan to be totally involved with the team, internally and externally even if it requires some financial sacrifices. That includes being aware of all club transactions, ability and condition of players, strategy, participating in chat rooms, blogs, attending conventions and everything in between including fantasy football. In order to accommodate their, yes, fanaticism, they will do this to their detriment even altering their lifestyle, if necessary.

Everybody wants to belong to a select group of like-minded folks, winners with a common goal and that’s where the guy with the helmet painted on his head and Uncle Sam and Elvis come into the picture. They punctuate the local Cowboy’s scene not unlike the Redskins' Hogettes. They are true fans and a critical part of the game.

With this latest news from Mr. Jones the loyal Cowboy fan base is now devolving into groups of sponsors who don’t really care about the teams they support. The quest for the almighty dollar is their mantra and Cowboy seats or a luxury box will be just another business expense and deduction. While some Fans might be left, the new stadium will become just another place to do business. The true fans will not be able to afford the game or even the parking unless they use the local rapid transit (DART), purchase standing room only (catch-as-catch-can) or nosebleed seats in the far upper corners of the new stadium or become dedicated tailgaters opting to just be close to the festivities. The players will become even more distant not unlike the gods on Mount Olympus, far from the madding crowd.

Entrepreneurial sorts are even developing portable theaters adjacent to the new stadium where fans can view the game on big screen TVs despite the fact that Jerry in an uncharacteristically generous fit apparently plans to project the Cowboy games on a big screen on the outside of the new stadium? Curiously, I think that my 46” HD Samsung in my snug confines (with nearby facilities) a more reasonable alternative to all this insanity – if I even decide to remain a Fan as the future probably bodes that we will only see Cowboy’s football via paid TV.

We are a far cry from September 3, 1895 when the first legitimate professional football game was played, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between the Latrobe YMCA and the Jeannette Athletic Club. Latrobe won the contest 12–0. We’re also a long way from that 1961 gentlemanly, amateur football game between Williams College and Amherst College where non-scholarship student athletes took the field for alma mater and a sense of fraternity.

Dad would be very angry then sad to learn of these new developments in Dallas but would calmly say, “Coby, its OK, let them go...”


Ned Buxton

No comments: