FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I write this sitting on top of the TCU vs. San Diego State football game.
I say on top of, because if you have ever been in or around Amon G. Carter Stadium, you know that the current press box and uppper deck loom large over the field. The late afternoon sun is completely blocked on the field by the giant structure on the west sideline, other than a perfectly placed streak that shines on the TCU logo midfield, and on the visiting sidelines. It’s like the architect tried to recreate a Mayan calendar.
The press box is 18 stories above the field. It’s said to be right on level with the steeple on the campus chapel (from up here, it looks close). It’s one of the tallest buildings in Fort Worth, and it will soon be gone.
I have spent a good bit of time inside this press box in the four seasons I have been back in Fort Worth. I say back because I grew up not too far from the stadium and school, and while I was never inside the stadium as a kid, it was part of the landscape. It pops out of the trees that surround it, and you can’t miss it if you are driving along Hulen Street or Interstates 20 or 30 near the campus.
We are saying goodbye to the press box, but not the stadium. Having been in all of the college press boxes in the area (including a very unfortunate incident at Fouts Field, which I will not be writing a goodbye to) I can say I will miss this old relic.
It’s a relic in the sense that it was built in 1956 and is amazingly cramped (as I write there are people crab walking to get behind me). It’s a throwback to the days when newspaper men probably sat up here wearing fedoras and smoking, writing copy on typewriters or frantically jotting down stats in notebooks kept in the pocket of their sportcoats. The press box has no air conditioning, no heat, a bathroom that was not built with people like Gina Miller in mind, and a traditional feel to it that I will likely never experience again in the days of luxury suites and club lounges.
An example of what it’s like to sit up here: The CBS 11 seat is right on the north 45 yard line has a steel support beam right next to it, blocking the view of the field and forcing the person sitting here to strain their neck to see the endzone. It’s the best seat in the house though, because when you lean forward, you get a view of the entire field and a spectacular view of the TCU campus and the Fort Worth skyline, something I hope remains in the new press box.
Then there is the elevator, a 5×4 box with the old laticework brass door and an elevator operator. Yes, an honest-to-goodness elevator operator. His name is Clyde. He’s been part of the press box for 14 years, and is as iconic as Superfrog to the folks who ride up and down each game.
The press box and upper deck will be torn down December 5, in what promises to be a spectacular demolition (especially since they have to keep most of the stadium standing). Before that, crews will move through the stadium starting Sunday to begin salvaging what can be saved in preparations of demolition. When the dust settles and the entire finished product opens in 2012, Amon G. Carter Stadium will feel very different.
It will be a sleeker, more modern place to watch the Frogs, but I will always remember the old place, and what it was like sitting on top of a football game.