By contrast, the $185 million Jack Kent Cooke stadium, constructed with the aid of $70 million in assistance for roads from the state of Maryland as well as tax breaks from Prince George's County, holds 78,600 an increase of more than 22,000 seats, or nearly 40 percent.
This includes many pricier club seats (15,000-plus), loge seats (1,400) and luxury suites (208) intended to bring in $25 million annually. The team had problems leasing all of the luxury suites, which go for $59,950 to $159,950 a year. So it removed the walls from about 75 of them and created the semi-private loges, which are up in horseshoe-shaped areas at each end zone and which cost $2,495 a season.
Architecturally, the stadium is a modern suburban monument. "When you come from far away, you perceive this crown like you see the Washington Monument from around the city," said Jeff Spear, a stadium project manager from Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), a Kansas City firm that has designed many other sports arenas as well.
He was referring to the stadium's steel top with its canted trusses, looming 152 feet above the road. "Everything springs from the trusses," said Clark Mleynek, HOK's principal architect on the stadium. "It's meant to convey the sleekness and speed that Jack Kent Cooke believed was the essence of professional football."
Walter Lynch, Cooke's personal architect, noted that the late team owner wanted none of the turn-of-the-century charm of brick facades and ironwork resurrected by Oriole Park at Camden Yards, another HOK work.
Lynch, who became Cooke's alter ego on the stadium, spent hundreds of hours with Cooke during meetings, site tours, strategy sessions and informal talks. "He had been in the sports business for over 50 years. He had been through good times and bad times, and he realized the bottom line was his customers, that if they felt they were getting a good value, they would keep coming back. He worried about every detail, from how quickly someone could get to the stadium, how someone could park to what was the fair price to charge for a hot dog."