With draft coming to AT&T Stadium, Cowboys-Eagles rivalry continues

FRISCO, Texas -- On the field, the Dallas Cowboys are chasing the Philadelphia Eagles now that their NFC East rivals have won Super Bowl LII.

Off the field, the Cowboys are trying hard to surpass the Eagles as well.

A year ago, Philadelphia hosted the NFL draft, and by all accounts it was a tremendous event with a record crowd of 250,000 over three days announced by the NFL.

This year, April 26-28, AT&T Stadium will host the NFL draft.

“Are we ever not competitive?” Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer Charlotte Anderson said. “I think absolutely. I think Dallas fans want to show up every time, if not more so than the Philly fans, especially now.”

On Monday, NFL officials met with Cowboys and AT&T Stadium officials at the $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington, Texas, to go over the details of the event.

The draft has become a traveling roadshow in recent years, moving from New York to Chicago to Philadelphia and now AT&T Stadium as the league sees the benefit, economics and otherwise, of moving it around as the hype for the event seems to know no bounds.

Just about every team in the league, plus the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has expressed a desire to host the draft. AT&T Stadium was selected as host last October.

"We’ve been hoping for the draft to come here for a couple years now, and then to have the opportunity to not only showcase the stadium, but also showcase the region, was significant for us," Anderson said. "I think the fact that we had so many great options with the cities working together to put the best big package forward, it gave the league so many great options to choose from that they chose to be here in Arlington, and we can’t wait.”

Plans have not been finalized, but the expectation is that the doors to the stadium will be open to allow a seamless transition to a stage at midfield where the first-round pick will receive his jersey from commissioner Roger Goodell above the star.

Anderson said construction inside and outside the event will begin about two weeks before the draft. How fans can get tickets, which are free, will be announced soon, and there will be events during the week across the region, including a 7-on-7 tournament that will be held at The Star in Frisco, Texas, at the team’s practice facility.

But the star of the event will be AT&T Stadium.

The stadium has hosted Super Bowl XLV, an NBA All-Star Game, a Final Four, the College Football Playoff Championship, the Cotton Bowl, numerous international soccer matches as well as Wrestlemania and the Academy of Country Music Awards.

“It actually reminds me of the ACMs because it’s live and it’s a new configuration,” Anderson said. “That’s the beauty of the building. It allows us to do so many things and look very different for this setting than it does for an NFL game. It gives us the flexibility, options so we can grow big, or we can come down small. If you’ve been to the draft, you know there’s different things on different days, different looks and different numbers of people, that it gives us a great opportunity to accommodate all of that.”

Anderson wasn’t sure what type of attendance to expect at AT&T Stadium or if they would go after the record last year in Philadelphia, where it was held outdoors at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“When something doesn’t have a boundary and it’s over three days, that’s who you need to ask [the NFL] how they figure out their numbers,” Anderson said.

One more thing: What about the reception Goodell will receive? Anderson’s father, Jerry Jones, the owner and general manager, was not too pleased with the NFL commissioner last season with the six-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott. Neither were Cowboys fans, who believed Elliott’s absence led to the Cowboys missing the playoffs.

“Well," Anderson said smiling, “I would imagine he would have a nice, warm welcome.”