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Cowboys' new 'The Star' in Frisco on track for August opening


Aerial Photography Inc./Manhattan Construction

An aerial view detailed construction on the new Cowboys headquarters and multi-use event center near the Dallas North Tollway. It includes a specialty retail, restaurant and entertainment district next to the stadium.

With a bump in the budget and an eye on the end game, the new home of the Dallas Cowboys is on pace for an August opening.

The team is expected to say goodbye to its longtime home at Valley Ranch in Irving when it heads to training camp in July. When everyone returns, they will be moving into their new digs in Frisco.

The centerpiece is the multi-use event center, which, along with the outdoor practice fields and underground parking garage, make up the city-owned portion of the project. The price tag for what has been named The Ford Center at The Star now stands at more than $255.5 million.

Mark your calendars for the big kickoff event there on Aug. 27.

That event will feature Frisco’s youth. They will be a big focus in the new complex, whether they are in high school competing in the stadium or in a peewee league practicing on the plaza.

“We are working now to plan the big event that will showcase all of our varsity football teams in matchups for their season openers,” Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said.

The first-of-its-kind development is a joint effort among the Cowboys, the city of Frisco and Frisco ISD. The site along the Dallas North Tollway features a 12,000-seat indoor stadium, two outdoor practice fields, the team’s headquarters building and multiple parking garages.

The specialty retail, restaurant and entertainment district located south of the stadium will open in stages. The 16-story Omni Frisco Hotel — expected to be finished in summer 2017 — will include a city-owned convention center and connections to the stadium and team headquarters.

The entire $1 billion development also will feature a sports medicine center with Baylor Scott & White Health, a fitness center that includes the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders studio, an exclusive members-only Cowboys Club and lots of office space.

“We’re doing a lot of things that we never actually did at Valley Ranch, which is express who we are as an organization, our tradition, our history, how the Cowboys began and people we’ve influenced along the way,” said Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president for the Cowboys.

Anderson, who regularly monitors progress at the construction site, described the finished product as Town Center meets Times Square. It will have lots of interactive features and unprecedented access for the public, she said.

“Out at The Star we are really taking that to a completely different level,” she said. “It doesn’t exist anywhere in sports.”

The cost for the public portion of the project increased last month when the Frisco City Council OK’d several construction changes. The most significant was a $3.4 million price increase to add a glass facade on the stadium’s front.

Of that $255.5 million, the city and its entities pay $60 million and the school district pays $30 million.

The remaining costs are being picked up by the Blue Star companies, which are affiliated with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family.

The team’s six-story headquarters building has a working budget of $80 million, with $25 million of that being funded by the Frisco Economic Development Corporation.

Heavy rains last year took a toll on the project’s schedule. Frisco assistant city manager Ron Patterson gave kudos to general contractor Manhattan Construction, whose crews made up for lost time with longer days and Saturday shifts.

Crews also gained a huge chunk of time recently by enlisting a helicopter to load bundles of roofing material atop the stadium. The materials are generally placed by a crane, which lifts loads more slowly and must be moved to different positions around the building.

“With the helicopter, they put one [bundle] on the roof every two minutes,” Patterson said.

Design features at the site are meant not only to meet the needs of the Cowboys but also the schools.

For example, sections of armchair seating in the stadium bowl were changed out for bench seating to accommodate band students. Stairs were also added to give the bands direct access to the field. The press box is large enough to accommodate rows of judges for band competitions. Spaces have also been marked in the complex to feature student artwork.

“We have been included every step of the way to make sure that the needs of our students are met and that The Ford Center at The Star is very much reflective of being a stadium used by high school programs,” Lyon said.

Several announcements are planned in the coming months with more details about The Star, whether it’s partners on the restaurant and retail side or opportunities for exclusive access, Anderson said.

With eight months until the opening event, there’s still a lot to be done.

“It’s going to be August before we know it,” Anderson said.

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