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Field Notes

What do Jerry Jones, 18.9 million pounds of turf and an animatronic parrot have in common? They’re perfect fodder for aspiring college bowl game know-it-alls

Author KEVIN ALEXANDER

WHETHER YOU’RE a football fan or not, odds are good that at some point during the first two weeks of January you’ll end up in a bar, a friend’s house or a technologically advanced restroom, watching one of the seemingly countless bowl games that mark the end of the college football season. We can’t tell you who’ll be playing in those games, but we can give you the inside scoop on where they’ll be played — so that when your friends go on about, say, how sluggish a certain team looks on the field, you can chime in with something like “Perhaps it’s because the grass they’re playing on is actually a variant of Bermuda called Tifway 419.” And so forth.

Ready to be the life of the party this month? Here we go.

COWBOYS STADIUM / Arlington, Texas

The Big Game: AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 6)

Fast facts: Opened 2009; capacity 110,000; Matrix artificial turf field

Number of nicknames involving Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: Seven (led by “Jonestown,” “Jones-Mahal” and “Jerrydome”)

Proof that everything is, in fact, bigger in Texas: The stadium features the world’s largest operable glass doors and single-span roof structure, and was made using 14,100 tons of structural steel — the same as in 92 Boeing 777s.

If your friends still aren’t impressed: Note that Guinness World Records awarded the stadium a certificate in 2009 for its “world’s largest high-definition video display.” At 11,520 square feet, it dwarfs the second largest, an 8,925-square-footer at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM / Glendale, Ariz.

The Big Game: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 2)

Fast facts: Opened 2006; capacity 72,200; natural grass field

About that field: The first fully retractable natural grass playing field in North America, it uses a grass variety called Tifway 419 that’s nestled in an
18.9-million-pound tray kept outside the stadium when not in use. Seriously.

When someone at your party inevitably comments on how packed the stadium looks: Mention that if the seats were set in a straight line, they would stretch for 18 miles.

When a blimp’s-eye view of the stadium’s exterior appears: Inform your friends that the stadium’s skin was designed to evoke a barrel cactus.

If your friends still aren’t impressed: Point out that a barrel cactus can hold up to 130 gallons of water. Then tell them the stadium’s retractable roof is made of a translucent fabric called Bird-Air to give the place an open, airy feel even when the roof is closed.

MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME / New Orleans

The Big Game: Allstate BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 9)

Fast facts: Opened 1975; capacity 73,208; Speed Series S5-M artificial turf field

Official name of the stadium’s original artificial turf: Mardi Grass

Portentous quote from Louisiana Gov. John McKeithen at a 1967 baseball game at the Astrodome in Houston: “I want one of these, only bigger.”

World records held: Two: largest fixed-dome structure in the world and largest attendance at an indoor concert (87,500, at a 1981 Rolling Stones show)

Historical trivia involving another sport: Muhammad Ali won his last pro fight here in 1978, when he defeated Leon Spinks (who apart from that is best known for missing all four of his top front teeth).

If your friends still aren’t impressed: Tell them that Pope John Paul II addressed 80,000 children from the Popemobile here in 1987.

RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM / Tampa, Fla.

The Big Game: Outback Bowl (Jan. 2)

Fast facts: Opened 1998; capacity 65,890; natural grass field

Hip stadium nickname: The “Ray Jay”

Less hip stadium nickname: “Community Investment Tax Stadium,” or “CITS”

If any of your friends wears an eye patch: Gently inform him that the 103-foot-long pirate ship in the corner of the stadium will not be shooting rubber footballs and confetti out of its cannons or employing its sassy animatronic parrot (this only happens during Tampa Bay Buccaneers games). He may be pleased to know, how ever, that the nearby restrooms and concession stands are painted to evoke a weathered fishing village.

If your eye patch–wearing friend isn’t impressed: Assure him that the Ray Jay does offer weddings in the pirate ship.

ROSE BOWL / Pasadena, Calif.

The Big Game: Rose Bowl (Jan. 2)

Fast facts: Opened 1922; capacity 91,000; natural grass field

Number of Drum Corps International World Championships held here: One (in 2007)

To impress any gardeners in attendance: Tell them there are more than 100 different varieties of rose bushes situated between the stadium and the fence that surrounds it.

To impress any plumbers in attendance: Tell them it would take 84.3 million gallons of water to fill the Rose Bowl to the rim.

To impress any football fans in attendance: Tell them that the stadium has hosted its namesake bowl game every year except 1942, when the game was moved to Duke due to safety concerns after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

If your friends still aren’t impressed: Chastise them for having no appreciation of history. Then spike the nearest object onto the floor and do a victory dance.

FLORIDA CITRUS BOWL / Orlando, Fla.

The Big Game: Capital One Bowl (Jan. 2)

Fast facts: Opened 1936; capacity 70,000 (originally 10,000); AstroTurf “GameDay Grass 3D” field

Previous fruit-based name: Tangerine Bowl

Why it might look familiar to people older than 30: The TV show “Coach” (with Craig T. Nelson) used exterior shots of the Citrus Bowl during the series’ last two seasons.

Number of Drum Corps International World Championships held here: Four (in 2003, 1998, 1997 and 1996)

If your friends still aren’t impressed: Mention that it was used as a location for the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy.

The football stadium at KEVIN ALEXANDER’s college will likely never host the Drum Corps International World Championships.

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