First things first: I’m not a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Because I am a sports fan, though, I was interested in taking a tour of the Cowboys’ new world headquarters in Frisco, Texas, and seeing which of this Dallas suburb’s seven professional sports teams I could catch while in town, about a five-hour drive south of Wichita.
After a flurry of relocations over the past few years, teams from every major sport now call Frisco home.
My April visit coincided with the Texas Revolution indoor football team playing a game at Dr. Pepper Arena and the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, playing at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. Other teams in Frisco: National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars, Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas, Major League Lacrosse’s Dallas Rattlers and the Texas Legends, the National Basketball Association’s G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks The Ford Center is best known as the home of the NFL’s Cowboys but the 510,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility that opened in 2016 also is shared by the local school district and the city of Frisco.
The complex plays host to high school football games, college track meets, post-season college basketball tournaments, professional lacrosse games and non-sporting events like concerts.
Having been surprised by an amazing art tour at AT&T Stadium in Arlington –40 miles from Frisco and where the Cowboys play their home games – I wanted to see what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had come up with in Frisco. I wasn’t disappointed.
The tour covered the indoor facility side of the Ford Center – including getting to take photos down on the field – as well as the Cowboys headquarters portion of the building. We saw the team’s posh locker room and film room; the war room, a high-tech area where executives prepare for and conduct the draft; history displays including one of legendary coach Tom Landry’s fedoras and the evolution of the team’s uniforms dating back to 1960; Super Bowl trophies and rings; and artwork throughout the interior, from photography to a dancing light display made of more than 19,200 white LED lights embedded in 160, 40-foot-long, stainless steel mirrored rods hanging from the ceiling.
Tours are offered several times daily and are $32.50 for adults, $27.50 seniors and children. There are blackout dates, so be sure to check thestarinfrisco.com. Some of those blackout dates fall in August as the team prepares for the 2018 season, though fans can get inside free to watch practice at the Ford Center on select dates.
Back to Football celebration
Thousands will come to Frisco for the Back to Football celebration that coincides with five Cowboys training camp practices that are open to the public: 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 20-21, then 11 a.m. on Aug 23, 24 and 28. Admission and parking are free; entry is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Back to Football festivities culminate on Saturday, Aug. 25 with family-friendly activities and music inside the Ford Center as well as yoga and a movie in front of the facility, on a 60-yard football field used as a park. Above the outdoor field is a massive video board.
The Ford Center opened in 2016 and is part of The Star, a 91-acre Dallas Cowboys-themed entertainment campus that includes more than 20 restaurants, shopping and services like a gym and an Omni hotel. The Star held a grand opening earlier this year and continues to add businesses.
One of my favorite parts of the complex was the artwork, including a site-specific commissioned sculpture by Tom Friedman called DzHuddle.dz It depicts nine figures huddled up and is made using roasting pans cast in stainless steel.
There’s more art nearby at the 40-piece Texas Sculpture Garden. Frisco also has four museums and this fall will open a fifth, the National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum at Toyota Stadium.
National Videogame Museum
I couldn’t wait to visit the National Videogame Museum, the only one in the country dedicated to the history of the videogame industry and home to one of the largest Pong consoles (yes, you can play it). It opened in 2016 to 60,000 visitors and has more than 20 displays – called stages here. Y
You can see a physical timeline of consoles and one-of-a-kind prototypes, learn the history of the industry and concepts like virtual reality and Easter eggs (hidden features) and play more than 40 machines in a retro arcade.
One of the founders, John Hardie, was there the day I visited. He and two fellow founders started collecting before anyone else thought video games would become so entrenched in our lives. When Silicon Valley wasn’t interested in their large collection they found Frisco, eager to welcome them and their 100,000 artifacts. He said they plan to expand from the current 10,000 square feet to as much as 50,000 to hold more memorabilia that is currently in storage as well as future acquisitions and loans from collectors across the world.
The National Videogame Museum is open daily; $12 adults and $10 seniors and youth. Admission includes a few tokens for the arcade.
360 miles or 5 hours south of Wichita
Seven professional sports teams; four museums; public art
Learn more at VisitFrisco.com
Back to Football with the Dallas Cowboys Aug. 20-28; learn more at theStarInFrisco.com/BackToFootball