Texas Stadium

In 1971 the Dallas Cowboys moved to a new home. The Cotton Bowl, home to the Cowboys for their first 12 seasons, was getting too run-down, according to team founder Clint Murchison Jr. He planned a new home, Texas Stadium, in Irving, a suburb west of Dallas. Hole in the Roof, written by Murchison’s son, Burk, and Dallas journalist Michael Granberry tells the story of that stadium.

The Cowboys won their first Super Bowl at the end of their second season in Texas Stadium; indeed, every Cowboys Super Bowl-winning team to date played its home games in Texas Stadium. As the team rose to national prominence, the 65,000-capacity stadium became known for its distinctive hole in the roof – the result of an aborted plan for a retractable roof and the origin of the book’s title.

Other aspects of the stadium’s design were more carefully planned. Murchison realised quickly that an owner who controlled the team’s stadium – rather than being a tenant in a city-owned venue – could create revenue streams that were not available to rivals. Years before Jerry Jones made use of similar tactics after buying the Cowboys in the 1990s, Murchison was looking at generating extra money from luxury suites and exclusive membership clubs.

But unlike many teams that expect control of the stadium and a hefty investment of taxpayers’ money, Texas Stadium received no public funds. Instead, Murchison issued ‘seat option bonds’, which cost $250-1,000 and gave fans the right to buy a season ticket for that seat. A crucial difference from the modern NFL’s ‘personal seat licenses’, is that Cowboys fans could sell their seat option bonds back to the team later.

Title: Hole in the Roof
Authors: Burk Murchison and Michael Granberry
First published: Texas A&M University Press
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK


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The stadium was an enormous success and the authors make a good case for it being a significant influence on the operation of NFL stadiums more widely. It certainly influenced Jerry Jones’s thinking when he opted to build an even bigger venue for the Cowboys – the 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

As well as serving as the biography of a football stadium, Hole in the Roof also recounts the life of Clint Murchison Jr and much of the history of the Cowboys.

Texas Stadium was demolished in 2010. The Cotton Bowl, however, remains open to this day.


Burk Murchison is the son of Clint Murchison Jr and works in investment banking in Dallas. Michael Granberry is a Dallas native who writes for the Dallas Morning News.


Amazon US | Amazon UK

Photo: Grantlairdjr

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