At 7:08 a.m. on April 11, 2010, 11-year-old Casey Rogers of Terrell, Tex., pushed a red button and Texas Stadium, the iconic home of the five-time World Champion Dallas Cowboys, Irving, Tex., ceased to exist.
Casey earned the honor of pushing the button when his essay won the “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Cheddar Explosion” essay contest. The essay focused on how he started a charity called Casey’s Heart when he was 8 years old to help the homeless in the Dallas area.
Going out with a huge bang, with more than 20,000 people watching onsite and many more around the world via television, was a fitting end for the 37-year-old stadium.
Texas Stadium opened on October 24, 1971. Over the years the $35 million, 65,675 seat stadium was not only the Cowboys’ home turf, but also was the setting for a wide variety of performances. The Rev. Billy Graham and the Promise Keepers Crusade was the first event to be held there. This was followed quickly by state high school playoffs and championship games, concerts by headliners like the Beach Boys, George Strait and Jimmy Buffet and the 1973 Pro Bowl game.
In 2001, a number of notable events took place including the Big 12 conference championship, World Class Championship Wrestling and the first professional lacrosse match held in Texas.
The Cowboys’ history, dotted with names such as Roger Staubach, Tom Landry and Troy Aikman mixed in with football memories, real and fiction, inside those walls. Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record, Mean Joe Green drinking a coke in a Coca Cola commercial and Al Pacino in Hollywood movie “Any Given Sunday” all took place in Texas Stadium, known worldwide as the stadium with the hole in the roof. This moniker prompted former Cowboy linebacker, D.D. Lewis to make his now- famous quip, “Texas Stadium has a hole in the roof so God can watch His favorite team play football.”
Closing the Doors
Texas Stadium officially closed in December 2008 and on May 29, 2009, the $1.5 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., became the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Even though the Cowboys’ headquarters remained in Irving, the city was left with a deteriorating stadium that was costing thousands of dollars per month to simply maintain. So the city determined that the 80-acre footprint of the stadium and surrounding ancillary property could be used in a much more profitable manner and awarded Irving-based Weir Bros. Inc. a $5.8 million contract to demolish the structure and prepare the site to fit in with the 388 surrounding acres for a development referred to as “Crossroads DFW.”
The site is one of the largest metropolitan areas open for development in the country. The development is slated to be commercial, high-rise residential and transit-oriented. The transit site will be used by the Texas Department of Transportation for staging the new Diamond Interchange project that will bring the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) from downtown through Irving in 2011 and on to the Dallas/Fort Worth International airport by 2013.
Reclaiming the Site
According to Al Weir, partner in Weir Bros Inc., the project required 380,000 cu. yds. (290,530 cu m) of dirt to fill the stadium floor/bowl and bring it up to grade. Fortunately the dirt could be transported from just across the highway where the DART station and connecting highways are being developed to enhance the infrastructure surrounding the site well into the future.
“We were running Cat 740 off-highway trucks at an average of 350 to 400 loads per day to meet the deadlines,” stated Al Weir. Aside from a Klein Products water truck, Weir Bros. used all Caterpillar equipment on the project. The equipment included two D8 bulldozers, a 320 and a 345 excavator, a 966 wheel loader, an 825 and 815 pad-foot rollers along with the three 740 off-highway trucks. There are 12 people from Weir involved in the Texas Stadium project who have been working five to six days per week for more than three months at this time.
“Thirty-seven years ago, my brothers and I were in our teens when we watched the stadium being built…little did we realize at that time that we would be the ones to bring it down,” stated Mike Weir.
Lee Weir, the third brother in the company said, “Even though we received $5.8 million and a great deal of recognition with the project, we all have tried to be very efficient with the work yet a little reverent considering Texas Stadium was not just a structure, it was a part of millions of people worldwide.”
“Weir Bros Inc. is abiding by the ’Green Concept’ in all aspects of the demolition by recycling 95 percent of all materials from the demolition,” stated Al Weir. “There are more than 200,000 tons of concrete being crushed on the stadium site for use as road-bed fill, all the steel is being sold to local DFW recycling companies, all the asbestos has been disposed of according to EPA regulations and basically the balance of seats, furniture, etc. was sold as memorabilia to the public. “Of course other memorabilia such as the signage including the ’Ring of Honor’ was kept by the Cowboys organization. If all goes as scheduled, we should be completely through with the project by August of this year.
The Science of Implosion
As the general contractor, Weir Bros. Inc. retained A&R Demolition, Del Valle, Tex. Stephen Reveile, partner and COO, A&R, said that there were a total of 180 people working on the project. Equipment used included eight Hyundai excavators, six Bobcat skid steer loaders and three track-type loaders including a Cat 973 and a 963 along with a Liebherr 770. Andrea Reveile, vice president, stated, “At A&R Demolition, we don’t just blow things up. There is a great deal of scientific engineering that goes into each job to make sure that the implosion goes off in a controlled manner. We work with engineers and explosive companies to make sure that the structure falls safely where it should. In this case, we worked with Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp., Tulsa, Okla., to do the prep work for the explosives. Dykon determined that 29,000 holes were to be drilled to accommodate the 2,700 pounds of dynamite that was placed at strategic points and 144 shape charges were set properly to bring down the roof.” “In the 17 years that we have had our family-owned business, we have completed a myriad number of projects; however, Texas Stadium is undoubtedly the most renown,” Reveile stated. “’Bittersweet’ has been used many times in referring to this project and we at A&R were humbly honored to be the company to bring it down properly.”
The Reveile family, Andrea, husband Raymond and Stephen all felt that even though the stadium was an iconic structure, being able to put it to rest properly was most important and was making way for the future.
When Casey Rogers pushed the button, a non-electric system ignited a main charge and then at five-second intervals the 2,715 lbs. (1,231 kg) of dynamite went off in sequence and 30 seconds later Texas Stadium was down.
Dan Matkin, mayor of Irving from 1971 to 1977 made the comment that he felt like the “Alpha and Omega because I was there when it went up and I’m here seeing it come down.”
Present mayor of Irving, Herbert Gears stated, “Texas Stadium has been an excellent contribution to our community in multiple ways for many years, but today, we are officially ready for future development of this prime piece of real estate. Life will go on in Irving.”
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