|Football fans walk up toward the new Dallas Cowboys stadium before the start of a preseason NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans.|
"At first take, it's breathtaking," said Thompson, of Fort Worth. "The stadium is unbelievable."
The lifelong Cowboys fan and his wife, Brittany, were on one of the plaza decks where they purchased $29 party passes, one of the many unique features of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' extravagant showpiece. And they had no plans to give up their spots Friday night.
"I'll be getting the beer, she'll keep the seats," Thompson said.
Jimmy Larson and his buddies, who paid $60 to park about a mile away, stood nearby. They pondered whether to stay there instead of going way up to their seats in one of the stadium's highest sections while sending pictures on their cell phones for others to see.
"I had to post some pics on Facebook. Where we live, it's 300 people, a little town in Michigan (Ewen)," said Larson, a transplanted Detroit Lions fan. "This is pretty impressive."
There have been international soccer matches and concerts in the stadium, but the preseason home opener for Dallas against the Tennessee Titans was the first event in Cowboys Stadium for the namesake tenant. The Cowboys had played in Texas Stadium since 1971.
The famed star logo in the middle of the field was missing, and the team's Ring of Honor was not yet installed in the building that opened in June. Both are expected to be in place for the regular season home opener Sept. 20 against the New York Giants.
Hanging over the center of the field are a pair of 75-foot high video boards, high-definition screens that stretch from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.
Christian Breedveld of Austin said her two sons, both wearing No. 9 Romo jerseys, were "so excited to see the biggest TV in the world."
In the third quarter, Titans punter A.J. Trapasso booted a ball off the screen, causing it to drop straight down. By rule, the ball was dead and fourth down was replayed. Trapasso's next kick skimmed just to the side of the board without touching it.
When they are not kicking targets, the screens -- that will have to be raised 25 feet to accommodate the stage for a U2 concert in October -- provide larger-than-life images.
Every bit of stubble on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's face was visible when he was shown on the screen during pregame warmups.
The doors to the stadium opened two hours before kickoff, and there was a roar from the thousands of fans who streamed through he enormous glass door entrances at either end of the field.
"I was in the old stadium, this is more like 100 times the old Texas Stadium," said Todd Sain of McKinney.
The Cowboys called Texas Stadium home from 1971 until last season.
Breedveld, who grew up in nearby Garland as a Cowboys fan but never got to many games then, and her husband bought season tickets the last couple of years at Texas Stadium so they would be in position to get the club level tickets they have in Cowboys Stadium.
The Breedvelds got a sneak peek inside when they attended the George Strait and Reba McEntire concert that was the stadium's premiere event 2½ months ago.
Jay Breedveld grew in Houston rooting for the Oilers, but he was wearing a Cowboys shirt while tailgating in one of the closest parking spots to one of the plaza entrances about three hours before the game.
"He loves me," Christen Breedveld said with a wide smile.
Reed Bennett, a youth football coach from Allen, stood near the front of the line to enter the gates with his 7-year-old son, Adam, who was attending his first Cowboys game. The preseason opener is the only game they have tickets for so far.
"I'm excited to come see the new stadium," the elder Bennett said. "Inside, that's why I want to come see it."
Meanwhile, the Thompsons have tickets for one more game so far -- another set of party passes for the regular season opener against the Giants.
"I just thought that was the most sensible thing to do," Jon Thompson said of the party passes in an area where there were people three and four deep watching the game.
"I'm thinking it's going to get pretty rowdy right here, people pushing and shoving," he said. "I'm ready for it."
Added his wife, sporting a pink No. 24 Marion Barber jersey, "I'm ready, that's what we came for."