Travel Back Thursday: Old Mile High Stadium

hokoglowko, Flickr

With tonight’s Ravens vs. Broncos season opener, it only seemed fitting to find a throwback photo of the Denver Broncos, years ago. This shot, taken roughly 17 years ago in 1996, shows the Broncos playing on their old “home turf” at Mile High Stadium. The stadium was demolished in 2002.

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Touring Dallas Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl XLV Media Day

cowboys stadium

Super Bowl XLV. It was most certainly one for the record books. Well over 100,000 people flowed into Cowboys Stadium in the heart of North Texas to watch two of the NFL’s most storied teams do battle. The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers put on an amazing spectacle, and I was able to take part in one small way. I made my way into Arlington for Super Bowl Media Day — a frenzied event that saw over 1,000 credentialed media crowd the field for their chance to interview their favorite players and coaches. Two of the league’s most historic teams, both on the field of the newest, most awe-inspiring stadium in the NFL. It was a spectacular scene, and a journey I won’t ever forget. The good news for you is that even though the Super Bowl is over, Cowboys Stadium remains open for business.

How so, you ask? The team has set up a program for tourists, locals and curious fans alike to actually take a tour of the new Cowboys Stadium. Tours are given seven days a week, with two primary options for entry. Of course, a general tour won’t involve speaking to players of the Packers or Steelers, but it will involve a thorough walkthrough of the NFL’s most astounding and technologically advanced venue. Read on to catch a glimpse of what you’ll see should you make the trip down (or up!).

%Gallery-116470%Aside from the fact that players were on the field and more willing than ever to sign an autograph rather than answer yet another question directly related to sports, a normal Cowboys Stadium tour isn’t too different than a Super Bowl Media Day tour. I was granted access to a special side entrance as well as a rear conference room, a look at the technology that powers the stadium (more on that angle here and here) and field-level access to the players, but other than that, my experience would pretty much mimic yours.

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My first suggestion would be to splurge on the VIP Tour. If you make the trip over to Arlington, it’s worth the $10 per person upcharge to get a legitimate VIP experience. This runs $27.50 for adults (or $20 per person with a group of 20+ people), or $22.50 for children and seniors. The cheaper self-guided tour lacks the insider knowledge that the VIP Tour provides, giving you full access to the Pro Shop, field, locker rooms, Miller Lite Club and the post-game interview room. There are Tour Guides stations in each area to answer your questions, but the VIP Tour goes above and beyond. With that, you’ll begin at the Main club and then tour a private suite, the radio / print media press boxes, the Cotton Bowl offices, the Dr. Pepper Star Bar and the Ford Motor Company Fountain.

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Following those stops, a guide will take you down to the event level where you’ll see all of the stops on the Self-Guided Tours. Afterwards, you’ll end the tour in the Pro Shop where you’ll get a complimentary 6- x 8-inch photo to remember the experience. Like I said, the $10 upcharge seems justified.

cowboys stadium

As for my experience? It was outstanding. The 72- x 160-foot Mitsubishi Electric HD display hanging from the roof is truly a sight that has to be seen to be believed. It’s an expansive place — the roof can be opened up if the weather is nice, and it’s very obvious just how new this place is. Being able to get on the field holds even more meaning now that the Packers and Steelers have christened it with a Super Bowl, and for fans of the NFL (or sports in general), it’s a breathtaking experience. You really can’t judge just how huge the place is until you’re there. I kept wishing that I could actually return for a game after being on the field with legendary players, and there’s no doubt that this tour will get you hooked and hoping to come back for more. There looks to be hardly a bad seat in the house, and from a tech perspective, there’s plenty to appreciate. Over 800 wireless routers are there to provide reliable internet access through games (for those who like to tweet or upload images / videos of the action), and there have been improvements made in wireless cellphone coverage for similar reasons.

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During my tour, I also learned of things to come from Cowboys CIO Pete Walsh and systems architects from CDW. The organization is hoping to tie a good deal of technology into future events. Things like iPhone apps for ordering food (and potentially having it delivered to your seat based on GPS), real-time statistics and on-demand replays on your phone or tablet. These guys are gunning for “the ultimate fan experience,” and it shows. They’ve got the perfect venue to provide that, and if you’re halfway through a cross-country road trip, why not make a day to tour the NFL’s most technologically advanced stadium? Have a look at my tour in the images throughout to get a feel for what you’d get to see, and then head here to book a time and day that fits your schedule.

Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadium concepts

On Thursday, FIFA announced that Qatar defeated South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States in the race to host the 2022 World Cup. This historic decision marks the first time a Middle Eastern country will welcome a major sporting event.

FIFA’s choice has brought a significant backlash in the American media, with critics claiming that the summer heat (as high as 120 degrees Farenheit) will be unbearable and that a country the size of Delaware (with 1.6 million residents) will not be able to handle an estimated influx of 400,000 spectators.

Nonetheless, Qatar has outlined a complex plan to renovate three stadiums and build nine brand new complexes across seven host cities. Bid organizers claim that they are developing revolutionary methods to keep each of the stadiums climate-controlled and carbon neutral, at an estimated construction cost of about $6.2 billion.

Check out the designs in the gallery below:

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German architects AS&P have produced 12 conceptual designs that incorporate retractable roofs and solar power for cooling systems as well as modular designs that allow some of the stadiums to be dismantled at the end of the tournament and rebuilt in other countries.

Whether or not you agree with FIFA’s decision, it’s hard to deny that Qatar made an impressive pitch. Watch the video below to see the entire presentation, or just skip to 3:18 to see a live action rendering of Qatar’s vision for the 2022 World Cup.

Photo of the Day (09.13.10)

Perhaps the first travel book that kids read is Where’s Waldo? The striped explorer travels around the globe in search of…well…nonsense, really. He encounters scenes that go beyond the imaginations of children the world over and, hopefully, inspires them to seek out their own adventures when they get older (whether he inspires them to get Lasik is up for debate).

It’s hard to go on the exact trips taken by Waldo, seeing as how he visits some far-fetched locales. However, this photo by Flickr user kwsdurango shows that you can come pretty darn close. You just need to go to a Croatian soccer futbol match. Don’t try too hard to find Waldo in the stands, though. I don’t want you to hurt yourselves.

Have you found Waldo? Or just taken some excellent photos on your epic journeys? Upload your photos to the Gadling Flickr group and we might just use one for our next Photo of the Day.

Photo of the Day (6.22.10)

No matter how remote your current location, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve seen some trace of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa over the past 10 days. This humbling shot comes from travel photographer Austin Mann – taken at the Spain v. Switzerland game at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The Moses Mabhida Stadium is capable of seating nearly 63,000 fans and features a support arch similar to that of England’s Wembley Stadium. For a virtual look around Durban from the stadium, check out Durban’s official host city page.

Do you have stories or pictures from the games in South Africa or from your own hometown? Tips for those traveling to the World Cup? Share them with us & submit pictures to the Gadling Flickr Pool!