ARLINGTON, Texas – Team USA fan Michael Luera plopped down in Seat 1 of Row 11, Section 336 at AT&T Stadium on Tuesday and didn’t budge.
The NFL’s biggest indoor stadium has 85,000 seats, but those in the mezzanine club level became prime real estate when the Dallas Cowboys opened their doors for a free World Cup watch party featuring the United States taking on Belgium.
The Cowboys weren't the only NFL team opening their doors for American soccer fans on Tuesday. An estimated 28,000 fans showed up at Chicago's Soldier Field (home of the Bears) to watch the match while Seattle's CenturyLink Field (home of the Seahawks) hosted a party in its event center.
Fifteen-year-old Luera arrived at AT&T Stadium nearly three hours early for his first-come, first-serve spot directly in front of the stadium’s monster video board. The screen — wider than two tractor-trailers – is one of the biggest in the country.
“I wanted to be right in the middle of it,” said Luera, wearing an American flag cape. “You can see everything on this hi-def.”
Stadium usher Jarvis Leaks looked like he was auditioning to protect Tony Romo, as he repeatedly blocked hopefuls from the capacity mid-field sections.
“That’s probably over 200 I’ve turned away so far,” Leaks said.
More than 20,000 fans took advantage of the free admission and parking.
“I love Jerry!” said Broe Reeve, referring to Cowboys’ charismatic owner Jerry Jones.
While Jones was not in attendance, there were plenty of other characters filling the void. The craziest clad themselves head-to-toe in red, white and blue. One tall dude donned an Uncle Sam tuxedo, top hat and all.
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AT&T Stadium is more than 5,000 miles from Salvador, Brazil, but Air Force Staff Sgt. John Solis looked like he belonged at the World Cup match. He wore face paint, a USA scarf and a blue wig with a white and red Mohawk.
“I’ve got to represent,” Solis said.
Reeve, an elementary school PE teacher, shaped his hair into devil’s horns and wore flag-themed boxing gloves.
“Rocky IV, you remember?” said Reeve, 35. “I had to break them out for the World Cup.”
Moments later Reeve’s girlfriend returns bearing beers and good news: a can of Miller Lite has been discounted from $8.50 to $6.
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“Way to go, Jerry!” Reeve cheers.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels confirmed that all concessions were lowered for the day.
“The point is to put on an event, have a good time and cheer on Team USA,” Daniels said.
Call it an early Fourth of July festival with “America’s Team,” even if the celebrated football team didn’t win. The United States bowed out of the 2014 World Cup with a 2-1 loss in extra time.
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