ARLINGTON, Texas – Dog shows to championships, Jerry Jones believes the $1.2 billion showplace of the Dallas Cowboys always will be a destination for signature events.
So the flamboyant team owner has no concern that Monday night's national championship between Oregon and Ohio State means the calendar will be clear of the country's biggest sporting events for the first time since the 2009 opening of his oversized stadium with the giant video board hanging over the field.
"It's just a daily given that our organization will go out and pursue major sporting events," Jones said. He likens it to New York's Madison Square Garden as a venue that will build a legacy for hosting big events. "Bottom line is this, that's what that stadium does."
Here's another bottom line: The Super Bowl and Final Four aren't scheduled to come back after one visit apiece in the venue's first five-plus years. Jones, a former player at Arkansas, badly wanted the first championship in the new College Football Playoff and got it.
Now he has to wait to see when any of the "big three" will be back, which is the biggest test for a vision that goes back a decade, long before the first shovel of dirt was turned in Arlington, a city of nearly 400,000 people halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.
"At the end of the day, after it was built, I was clear with everybody involved in our organization and that would listen, it's just a tool, it's just a tool," Jones said. "It is not and cannot just be a monument and we have the opportunity because of the part of the country we're in … we can avail ourselves of the kinds of visibility that we get. Big events beget interest in the stadium."
The Super Bowl after the 2010 season was plagued by an unusual ice storm that lasted most of the week before the game, and then a problem with the installation of temporary seats displaced several hundred fans on game day.
The Final Four was much smoother, but wasn't without weather problems. Heavy rain doused the biggest concert event with Bruce Springsteen on the Sunday between the semifinals and the championship game. And there were threats of severe weather, always an issue in the spring on the southern tip of Tornado Alley.
The NCAA recently announced Final Four sites through 2021 (including the 2019 event at the new Vikings stadium), and the home of the Cowboys wasn't among them. But that mostly had to do with North Texas being the most recent host of the event, said David Worlock, associate director of championships and alliances for the NCAA.
"Everything else about their bid and about the recent hosting experience that we had with them was fantastic," said Worlock, who said another round of announcements is probably a couple of years away. "There's no reason to think we won't be going back there again for tournament action in the future."
The perception for North Texas took a hit a year after the difficult Super Bowl week when Indianapolis was the host. Not only was it remarkably warm in the city that's home to NCAA headquarters, but all the events were within walking distance of the home of the Indianapolis Colts.
Dallas and Fort Worth, 30 miles apart, usually have involvement in the big events, with downtown Dallas hosting the fan experience events in all three cases.
When ice blanketed the area four years ago, traffic was a major problem, with nightmares of drivers spending hours on area freeways when state officials were caught unprepared for the magnitude of the storm.
Cheryl Cummings, who went to North Texas twice as a fan of Green Bay and the Wisconsin basketball team, said her group tried to go to events in Dallas during Super Bowl week but gave up after a couple of hours in traffic. The Final Four trip for the resident of Madison, Wis., was much quicker because it was a last-minute decision after the Badgers advanced.
"I was glad I was there because I support my Packers and Badgers and that's what I do," said the 60-year-old Cummings, who is retired. "But would I go again? Probably, just because that's me."
The Super Bowl seating problem led to lawsuits, and some still aren't settled. Arlington Mayor Bob Cluck doesn't think his city's stadium will be picked for another Super Bowl until all legal issues are resolved, but he thinks it will be picked again.
"Of course, I'd like to have them scheduled already," said Cluck, who says "job No. 1" for the city is attracting a major hotel near the stadium to help answer concerns about events being spread out. "It would be very difficult for a major event like that not to come to our stadium because it has become so iconic."
Count Jones among those sharing that view.