Buildings like the venue formerly known as Cowboys Stadium aren’t cheap to build. In fact, that one cost well over $1 billion dollars to complete. Having become arguably the hottest sports venue in the United States while hosting everything from pro football to women’s bowling, the Cowboys actually make money just because they exist—and owner and self-appointed general manager Jerry Jones seems perfectly content with that, Vince Lombardi trophies be damned.
I could go on to include factors like Jones’ most expensive parking, game day programs and beer the NFL has to offer, but that’s beside the main point here. The same is true of the bloated and ugly naming rights contract between Jones and AT&T, clearly a factor in the franchises worth but positively meaningless in terms of fan interest on a nationwide scale.
We know the value of the Cowboys, but are they America’s Team still?
According to NFL merchandising figures, the answer is clearly yes. Each year Dallas ranks either at or near the top of annual sales of jerseys, caps and other stuff. At the rate the Dallas-Ft. Worth area has grown since the Cowboys were relevant, there’s plenty of people that buy into the mediocrity displayed each year under Jones while without the services of Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman and / or former head coach Jimmy Johnson.
Something to consider, however, is some sobering recent data which has begun to emerge since the beginning of training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reported last month that fan attendance was down from where it was a year ago at the same exact time. Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones, at least at the time, wasn’t too concerned:
I think those things will take care of themselves. It’s my understanding that there’s a festival in town this weekend and a lot of the people that normally come out here, some of them are over there. The crowds will take care of themselves.
It’s true that southern California is not really a rabid football region like other parts of the United States. There’s simply too much in the way of other distractions for football, especially the preseason variety, to take center stage.
Then again, how might the Jones’ explain the horrible television ratings registered by the blue-white scrimmage held last weekend? Yeah, the game took place in southern California but it was broadcast in the D/FW area like any other. According to Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, golf was a bigger hit.
Interest in the Cowboys, overall, doesn’t appear to be growing. Year after year of complete mediocrity ponied up by an egotistical billionaire who can’t even be satisfied by winning successive Super Bowls has taken its toll on many fans.
I suppose a better indicator of the overall interest in the Cowboys will come Thursday night in nearby San Diego as the Cowboys play the Chargers. Yet, with quarterback Tony Romo not expected to touch the field, it’s probably a safe bet that television ratings will be down for that game as well.
If we’re talking about the Cowboys, I’m not so sure that this trend is continuing no matter what recent jersey sales might indicate.