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Chargers anxious to see new building

Posted Dec 8, 2009

Sunday afternoon, the Chargers will get their first look at the new $1 billion Cowboys Stadium, the Taj Mahal of sporting venues that opened this summer.

When the Chargers play on the road, Head Coach Norv Turner likes to conduct a “walkthrough” practice the day before the game at the stadium so his players can get accustomed to the environment.

In the past, if the stadium was unavailable, the team often would resort to a high school or college field for the walkthrough. Turner won’t make that compromise this week as his team makes their first trip to the new $1 billion Cowboys Stadium.

“There is a little bit of a conflict but we will rearrange our schedule to make sure we get to go to (the stadium), particularly a new stadium like this,” Turner said. “I don’t want our guys to spend the first hour Sunday morning looking around to see what the stadium is like. I want them to be thinking about the game.”

Turner wants his players to get over the awe factor of the building before they arrive Sunday to face the 8-4, NFC East-leading Cowboys, and there’s plenty of awe to process.

Cowboys Stadium is approximately 2.3 million square feet. The entire Statue of Liberty and its base could fit into it with the roof closed. It’s the world’s largest column-free room as well as the largest enclosed stadium (in cubic feet) in the NFL. Two nearly 300ft. tall arches span the length of the stadium dome, anchored to the ground at each end, making it the largest domed structure in the world. The arches are more than twice the length of the Gateway arches in St. Louis.

“I’ve heard so much about the stadium,” said running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who grew up an hour south of Dallas and attended college in Ft. Worth. “I have friends who have season tickets and they say it’s great. This stadium is as big as it gets so I’m going to look around and hopefully get a tour. I’d like to see where (Cowboys Owner) Jerry Jones sits and check it all out.”

Aside from the vast size and architectural structures, the building’s gem is the $40 million, 600 ton jumbotron that hangs over nearly the entire field. The board stretches from the 20-yard line to the 20-yard line and measures 160 feet in length and 72 feet in height, making it the largest video board installation in the world.

“For people I’ve talked to who have been there, that’s the first thing they tell you about,” offensive tackle Marcus McNeill said. “They say it’s just so big and the picture is so clear. We’re all looking forward to seeing it.”

Turner said that he’d spend this week chatting with friends who have visited the Cowboys Stadium to get their thoughts on the noise and components of the building that might affect how he’d manage a game. He said that every team has become accustomed to working with a silent snap count, so he doesn’t expect noise to be an issue.

The Chargers have one player on their roster that has played at the new Cowboys Stadium. Linebacker Marques Harris, who rejoined the team last week, participated in a preseason game in Dallas as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in August.

“I’ve been in all the new stadiums in the league and there are a lot of nice ones, but nothing even compares to this one,” Harris said. “It’s a billion dollar stadium and you can definitely tell that the money was put into it the right way. When I walked into the stadium, I could feel an energy in there.”

Turner, who spent three seasons as the Cowboys offensive coordinator and won two Super Bowls in Dallas, obviously knows nothing matters other than winning the game on Sunday. However he is looking forward to his first visit to the giant venue.

“I’m anxious to see it,” Turner said. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and I’m looking forward to it.”

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