Author Mike Guy Illustration Graham Roumieu
Well before dawn, the crowds start to file sleepily along the dark streets of Irving like zombies in Dallas Cowboys regalia. The flashing lights of police cruisers blink, and on the horizon the giant dome of Texas Stadium, noted for decades of Cowboys dominance and a gaping hole in the roof, is lit by hundreds of floodlights.
In just an hour, sirens will sound, and Texas Stadium, for 37 years home to the storied football team, will be felled with a controlled detonation. The event (sponsored by Kraft Foods) is named the “Cheddar Explosion.”
Policemen, firemen and workers in blaze-orange vests guard the two-mile perimeter of the blast area. In the VIP section— where reporters, Cowboys glitterati and dignitaries flown in by the Irving Chamber of Commerce from as far away as Beijing, are gathered—Alicia Landry, the widow of longtime ’Boys coach Tom Landry, remembers the old days.
“Now, you folks probably know this,” Mrs. Landry says quietly with an impish smile. “But that big hole in the roof is there so that God could watch his team.”
Just after 5:45, three sirens sound, and dust suddenly rises off the dome as 2,715 pounds of explosives detonate. It takes 47 seconds for Texas Stadium to transform from one of the world’s elite sporting venues into a pile of rubble. More than four million pounds of concrete and rebar collapse with enough force to register on seismographs throughout the area.
The crowd cheers as the sound reaches the VIP area. Someone points to a billboard showing the Cowboy’s new 80,000-seat stadium in Arlington, which cost $1.2 billion to build and houses the largest HDTV screen in the world.
“I love the new stadium,” says Pam Seal, a cheerleader for the 1975 team. “But this was much more emotional than I expected. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend.”