An Unauthorized Tour of Texas Stadium Boxes

It could be the most expensive real estate in Dallas. But it’s not an antebellum mansion along Turtle Creek or even a Spanish-style villa in Preston Trails. It’s a small piece of real estate-16 feet-by-16 feet, to be precise-located at 2401 East Airport Freeway, better known to most of us as Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Real estate wheeler-dealer Danny Faulkner paid a million bucks for his; Lawrence Herkimer (a.k.a. “Mr. Cheerleader”) and partners recently turned down a $600,000 offer for theirs. In an effort to do a little financial belt-tightening, former Dallas County Judge Garry Weber sold his lavish one and bought a “modest” one for $400,000.

It’s called a “circle suite.” It’s a sort of press box situated between the upper and lower stadium decks, about 160 feet from the field. Watching a football game in a circle suite is like taking your living room to the game. As you might expect, some of the suites are furnished as comfortably as Grandpa’s den. Others look more like an elegant Highland Park living room.

To some people, the suites represent the height of conspicuous consumption. But that shouldn’t come as any surprise: The people who own the suites include the likes of Cullen Davis, Amon G. Carter Jr., Jess Hay, Robert Folsom, W. W. Clements, Joe Haggar, Eddie Chiles, Starke Taylor, Robert Strauss, Henry S. Miller and W. R. Hawn.

But men for whom freeways are named and those of us who drive the freeways do have something in common: We like to spend our Sunday afternoons with America’s Team. The ultra-rich, however, don’t watch football games the way we do. You probably watch the Cowboys at home on TV-or, if you’re lucky-from a hard stadium seat in the end zone. Those in the circle suites sit in an easy chair, drink in hand, enjoying some of the best seats in the house.

“It’s the only way to watch a football game,” says one of those privileged few who circle-suite it most Sundays that the Cowboys are at home. “If the Cowboys are winning, you can really get into the game. If they’re playing lousy, you can always drink.”

“I don’t particularly like football,” says J.L. Williams, a Dallas developer who owns an opulent circle suite frequently referred to as the “Marie Antoinette/Let Them Eat Cake” box. “But it’s a great place to bring clients and friends.”

When the 178 circle suites were first offered in 1971, they sold for a cool $50,000 each. Today, they sell for whatever the market can bear. Technically, to buy a circle suite, a person buys a $50,000 stadium bond, which the City of Irving will redeem for $60,000 in the year 2008.

WHEN WE FIRST asked the folks who run Texas Stadium to name the lucky owners, we were rather bluntly told that it wasn’t any of our business. Stadium officials are quick to point out that publicity has been known to instigate visits from IRS agents, real estate speculators and other such undesirables.

“In fact,” says Bert Rose, vice president of Texas Stadium Corp., “if Tom Landry wanted the names, we wouldn’t even give them to him. It’s a private matter, and many of the owners feel that publicity is not necessarily good.”

No wonder the suites are guarded like Fort Knox.

Tom Landry may be pretty good company, but we aren’t used to taking no for an answer. So we did a little digging on our own. The result: D’s unofficial guide to the Texas Stadium circle-suite owners.

Next time, just ask us, Tom.

Circle Suite ?

Food and spirits are common amenities in the circle suites. The owner of this suite, a Far North Dallas developer who asked that his name not be used, imported this 130-year-old bar from the lobby of a London theater. The box features antique wooden panels, mirrors and clocks. The bartender pictured is actually the developer’s chauffeur, who doubles as a weekend mixologist.

Circle Suite 286

Developer J.L. Williams’ circle suite is one of the more opulent of the 178 boxes. Often referred to as the “Marie Antoinette/Let Them Eat Cake” box, it features plush burgundy carpeting, original French murals and paintings, a crystal chandelier and a wet bar. Williams, like many of the suite owners, says he frequently uses his box to entertain clients.

Circle Suite 195

The Mary Kay Cosmetics circle suite is but another sign that the Pink Lady is definitely in the green. The Mary Kay box, frequented most often by her son, Richard Rogers, and Mary Kay VP Gerald Allen and friends, was redecorated two years ago, when the pink colors that are the trademark of the first lady of cosmetics were eliminated. The suite now sports modern decor.

Circle Suite 172

“Garland real estate wheeler-dealer Danny Faulkner, who says heand his family are a carbon copy of the Beverly Hillbillies, paid $1 million to enjoy his 30-yard-line circle suite view. The suite is decorated in Cowboy blue and features mirrored walls and a wet bar in which only soft drinks are served. “If people are offended that we don’t serve liquor, they can go some-where else,” he says.


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