FRISCO, Texas – Three years ago, it was nothing more than a vision.
Now, it's a reality. And a rather spectacular one, at that.
The Cowboys have a new home as they officially opened their new headquarters Sunday, allowing the players to practice for the first time in the indoor, 12,000-seat Ford Center.
Sunday's festivities also included a ribbon-cutting ceremony that includes Jerry Jones and his family, along with Frisco city officials and executives from Ford, the title sponsor of the facility.
While terms such as palace, paradise and kingdom were tossed around by in-awe media members, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones called the "Star" something else.
"This is a tool," he said to hundreds of onlookers that attended the opening ceremony. "Ahh, it's a pretty tool, but it' a tool. The real use of it is how we could take it, for instance how we'll have four (high school) football games next weekend to be nationally televised all over this country."
From Day 1, the Cowboys have never wavered from the fact that this facility is a partnership with the City of Frisco and its school district. More than just letting the high schools use the complex for occasional games, the Cowboys are somewhat sharing the facility, especially on Thursday and Friday nights when there is an expected high school game to be played at the Ford Center each week.
In fact, this Saturday, the aforementioned quadruple-header will feature all eight Frisco high school teams playing each other in a rare Week 1 district matchup that will include coverage by ESPN.
While the City of Frisco will undoubtedly benefit from the Cowboys' facility, the professional players also got their first taste of their new home Sunday. The team had meetings and its first practice inside the Ford Center. Head coach Jason Garrett also conducted his first press conference with the media in the new interview room.
"I think everything is pretty cool. They've done an amazing job putting this place together and it does not surprise me or anybody else who's been around the Joneses at all to see this place," Garrett said. "They just do everything in such a first-class manner. We see that in our stadium. We're so fortunate to play in what we believe is the best stadium in the world. And we believe this is as good a facility as there is. We try to express that to our players and they didn't need much convincing. They understand what this place is all about."
The facility is a combination of the past, present and future. The new waves of technology were seen the most through the rehabilitation and medical areas, where state-of-the-art equipment include rehab whirlpools that feature underwater cameras to help trainers test players and their movements when coming back from injury.
The locker room, shaped in the form of a football, gives the players more space and cushion seating, along with a high-tech ventilation features that dry out their shoes and shoulder pads.
"It's just beautiful," said Tony Romo, who actually had some trouble locating his new locker when he walked in Sunday morning. "You can't really appreciate it until you get in here."
Along the hallways, the history of the team and its success is highlighted with a display of murals that include Hall of Fame players such as Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith to today's stars of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.
When it's all said and done – the facility will cost way north of $1 billion, perhaps closer to $1.5 billion. An Omni Hotel is currently under construction and there will be several restaurants and shops that will be placed throughout the campus.
"It's a privilege to be able to stand here and welcome you to the Star and Ford Center here in Frisco," We're proud to be here. It's a beautiful place for us to call home."
See photos from the Cowboys and the City of Frisco's ribbon cutting ceremony at The Star.