Gases And Welding In The Big Game

Cowboys Stadium
The signature architectural feature of Cowboys Stadium is its two steel arches, each of which span a quarter-mile in length, boasting a combined 165,000 total ft of welding. Photo courtesy Richie Humphreys/Dallas Cowboys.

In 2011, roughly 111 million viewers tuned in to watch The Big Game. Many of these viewers experienced the action with the help of inert gases like xenon and neon, which are the secret to plasma TV technology. Another 100,000 were in person for the game, which was being played at the then two-year-old Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. For those fans that were lucky enough to attend the game, you can bet that our gases and welding industry was doing its part to deliver an enjoyable experience.

Cowboys Stadium is among the world’s most impressive sports venues. The signature architectural feature of the stadium is its two steel arches, each of which span a quarter-mile in length and rise 292 ft. above the playing field at their peak. Measuring 35 ft deep and 17 feet wide, these boxed arches consist of 14,100 tons of structural steel (the equivalent weight of 92 Boeing 777s). In all, these twin arches boast 165,000 total ft. of welding to support the stadium’s retractable roof.

Not only is Cowboys Stadium the largest domed stadium in the world, but it is perhaps best known as the home to the world’s largest HDTV video board. The video board’s two largest sides each measure 160 ft.wide by 72 ft. high, extending from 20-yard line to 20-yard line. At a massive 1.2 million lbs., the board relies on some serious welding for support. Crews welded together the 72-foot tall steel frame—containing a 10-level network of catwalks—on the ground before hoisting it 90 feet above the playing field. (Interesting fact: To determine the height, Dallas had its punter kick a football as high as he could.)

Inside Cowboys Stadium
The stadium’s 1.2 million lb. video board is supported by a 72-foot tall steel frame containing a 10-level network of catwalks. Photo courtesy James Smith/Dallas Cowboys.

With some help from welding, the Dallas Cowboys organization was able to accomplish the unthinkable by erecting a video board in the middle of a domed (retractable, no less) stadium. “This is the first center-hung video board in football history,” says Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner and GM. “The innovative technology will give every fan a great seat and the view is better than watching a 60 inch HDTV in your living room.”

While welding helped build football’s showpiece stadium, on Super Bowl Sunday, gases played a major role in the fan experience for fans of Pittsburgh and Green Bay alike. According to Mike Rawlings, chief executive of concessionaire Legends Hospitality, food and drink spending at the stadium was expected to reach an all time high. “We expect to set a record for Super Bowls,” he said in an interview with Dallas News before the game. Rawlings says the record for total food and beverage sales could exceed $5 million, roughly double the total sales for a regular season game.

Twice as much spending means twice as many beverages—and to the gases industry, that means a lot of CO2. To keep the beverages flowing, Cowboys Stadium has dedicated CO2 bulk tanks supplied by The BeerGas Company. According to Carter Helwig, beverage director at Legends Hospitality, the stadium’s bulk CO2 room has capacity for 4,800 lbs. of gas. Additionally, the stadium has 50-lb. CO2 tanks at every location where drinks are dispensed as a backup system in the event of a failure in the bulk room. In total, there are about 140 of these backup tanks throughout the stadium.

Gases and welding are important players in making the Super Bowl what it is, invisible as they may be to the average viewer. When you’re watching on Sunday, you can take pride knowing that, whichever team wins, our gases and welding industry helps millions enjoy the game every year.

GAWDA’s Football Connection
• GAWDA members are no strangers to the game of football. Check out GAWDA’s Gridiron Greats to see photos of your industry colleagues from their playing days.

• In the Fourth Quarter 2010 issue of Welding & Gases Today, South Jersey Welding Supply’s Bob Thornton Jr. sat down with Super Bowl XVII champ Joe Theismann.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association