Scoreboard Creates Controversy At Cowboys New Stadium

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys may need to make the first major change to their new $1.15 billion home after the video screens were hit by punts during the stadium's first American football game.

While fans were in awe of the world's largest high-definition screens -- roughly 60 yards (meters) wide, 25 yards (meters) high -- which hang from the center, punters for the Tennessee Titans used them for target practice before and during the NFL preseason home opener on Friday and had little trouble hitting them.

Tennessee backup A.J. Trapasso conked them during the third quarter, forcing a repeat kick once the officials realized what happened. Then Trapasso nearly hit them again.

"It is an issue," said Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, who happens to be the co-chair of the NFL's competition committee, a group that could force the Cowboys to take action if they don't do it on their own. "Something has to get worked out."

The league was already on the case.

"We are aware of it and will continue to monitor it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on Saturday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones helped set the height at 90 feet (27 meters) above the field -- 5 feet (1 1/2 meters) above the league minimum -- even though tests using the team's punter, Mat McBriar, showed he could clear 100 feet (30 meters). The reasoning behind cutting it close was that during the tests, McBriar was trying to boot it that high, but a regular punt has a lower arc and is usually kicked toward a sideline, not right down the middle.

"I'm not worried about it," Jones said. "I'm very comfortable that our height on our scoreboard is OK."

Trapasso acknowledged it takes a really good kick to nail the underside of the screens, then noted that most NFL punters have the leg strength to do it.

"It's nothing that is going to happen every time, but it's there," Trapasso said. "I don't know how much further up it can go, but it's in the way. ... It does not matter where you kick it from, it is just right there in the middle of the field. It's always something that you're going to be thinking about."

The screens have to go up to fit the stage for a U2 concert on Oct. 12. The Cowboys could leave it at that new height or they could use that opportunity to put in a system that would let them raise and lower it whenever they want. However, that would add to the price tag of a stadium that's already nearly double its originally projected cost of $650 million.


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