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America’s Team led all NFL clubs in home-game attendance for the 2021 season by a significant margin. Their average crowd size of over 93,000 fans per game beat the second-place franchise by over 15,000 people.
But the Cowboys know their opponents in this week’s playoff matchup have a fanbase that travels well, and the team’s taking measures to try to keep the 49ers faithful in the minority at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Owner Jerry Jones firmly believes that bigger is better, so as he and the team prepare to host the first round of the postseason, he’s looking to further increase the size of what already promises to be a sizable and raucous Cowboys crowd.
“It’ll be roaring. When that bunch cranks up, you have 90-something-thousand people,” Jones said Tuesday on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “We have to limit what we put on our standing-room-only [availability] out there, we have to limit that amount. But I’d like to push that 100,000 this week.”
The Cowboys hosted the largest regular-season crowd in NFL history- 105,121 fans- in September 2009. Super Bowl XLV, held at AT&T Stadium in 2011, drew 103,219. Other events over the years, like WrestleMania 32 in 2016, a George Strait concert in 2014, and the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, have all attracted crowds of over 100,000 as well.
The danger, though, is that the sheer spectacle of this Sunday’s game could prompt some ticketholders to sell their seats to visitors at a hefty profit, potentially turning the Cowboys’ stadium into a satellite venue for fans of the opposing team.
Shortly after the postseason pairings were announced, a photo made the rounds on social media showing a decidedly red-clad crowd at AT&T during Week 1 of the 2014 season.
— #Random49ers (@Random49ers) September 7, 2020
The circumstances on that season-opening day were notably different; San Francisco was coming off an appearance in the NFC conference championship and, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, were early Super Bowl favorites. Dallas, on the other hand, was fresh off their third consecutive 8-8 finish and not forecasted to do much better in the 2014 campaign.
This coming Sunday, of course, sees a very different scenario, with quarterback Dak Prescott and the league’s top-ranked offense complemented by a revamped and opportunistic defense starring electric youngsters Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys are the No. 3 seed in the postseason bracket.
Head coach Mike McCarthy hopes his squad gives the home crowd- implored to dress in white by the Cowboys- plenty to cheer about: early, often, and loudly.
“Our crowd has been great, just the energy. I know that’ll be there. I love the white towels; that’s always a good thing,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday. “Just don’t want to see a lot of the other team, the other fans. That would be my preference. AT&T’s been rocking, and frankly, we have a big responsibility in that ourselves. We need to get out there and get going fast and get the crowd into the game. This is going to be a great afternoon.”
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) January 11, 2022
49ers fans made their presence felt at SoFi Stadium during their Week 18 clash with the Rams. Los Angeles coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford both remarked that crowd noise during their own offensive possessions made it difficult to call signals.
“It did catch us off-guard,” McVay told ESPN.
“It was a tough environment for us to communicate,” added Stafford, “in really the whole second half.”
Kristi Scales of the Dallas Morning News reported that ticket prices for this Sunday’s game more than tripled (on resale sites like SeatGeek and NFL Ticket Exchange) once the 49ers were announced as the Cowboys’ first-round opponent. That could hint at another San Francisco invasion.
The Cowboys know that the higher stakes of the playoffs will bring a passionate contingent from both fanbases to Arlington. And while he would prefer to see more blue (or white) than red on Sunday, Jones knows every fan in attendance will also be bringing plenty of green to spend at concession stands and in the merch shops.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) January 10, 2022
“When you have the stadium the size that we have- which is easily the highest-attended stadium in the NFL- when you have a stadium the size of that, you’re going to have opposing jerseys in there, opposing fans, opposing colors,” Jones said. “I welcome it. I think it’s a great atmosphere.”
But Stephen Jones, the team’s executive vice president, reiterated that he hopes it’s an atmosphere dominated by the Cowboys’ own followers.
“I just can’t imagine you want to miss this one. This is why you get involved. This is why you want to be a season-ticket holder, a suite holder, a sponsor. This is what it’s all about, being in the tournament,” the younger Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Monday. “It’s going to be an amazing game, and I wouldn’t sell your tickets. I think I would show up, have a great time, and enjoy.”
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