Cowboys Stadium has hosted more than just football games since it opened in 2009.
A record crowd of 108,713 watched the NBA All-Star Game there in 2010, Manny Pacquiao has won two fights in a ring at midfield and the Mexican national soccer team has electrified the crowds during Gold Cup matches. The stadium has even accommodated monster trucks, motorcycles and bull riding.
While stadiums around the country have hosted similar events, none can match Cowboys Stadium's latest attraction: women's bowling.
The five finalists of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open will strike their first pins at 7 tonight -- the first time a women's major professional bowling event takes place in a traditional sporting venue.
"I don't think there is a better location in the world to showcase your premier event, your premier athletes and the great sport of bowling than Cowboys Stadium," said Steve Johnson, the executive director of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America. "It is probably the most recognized stadium. It represents greatness and the best of the best. We are extremely excited to bring this event to this stadium."
Event organizers hope that all of the venue's bells and whistles, as well as a few perks of their own, will boost the sport's exposure.
The five finalists will bowl on lanes set up on each side of the blue star at the 50-yard line, with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders nearby. Almost 100 workers spent about 40 hours installing the four lanes, which are made up of 5,000 pounds of lumber and were designed for the event. A perfect game of 300 brings a $1 million bonus from the BPAA; the champion gets $50,000.
"It is going to be an event that people will talk about forever and hopefully a catalyst for professional bowling and its future," Johnson said.
Additionally, the competition will be shown on the stadium's video board to ensure fans a clear view of the action. If all goes as expected, the Open will set a world record for attendance at a bowling event. The mark of 7,212 fans was established in 1995 for the men's U.S. Open at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
"I know there will be thousands and thousands of people in the stands, which is a great thing because you can't do that inside a bowling alley," tournament director John Losito said.
Fans shouldn't be hard to come by, considering more than 8,000 out-of-town visitors were expected for the 2011 International Bowl Expo, which began on Sunday and will conclude Friday at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine.
All of this has Kelly Kulick, the 2003 and 2010 U.S. Open champion, eager to bowl.
Kulick, of Union, N.J., claimed the top seed by going 6-2 in the final round of Wednesday's match play. Leanne Hulsenberg of Roseville, Calif., finished second, Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., took the third seed, and Shannon O'Keefe of Arlington and Lynda Barnes of Double Oak took the final spots.
"This event is taking place in a venue that is unprecedented in bowling," Kulick said. "We've never bowled outside of a bowling center or an arena. So this is new for everyone."
The 2011 U.S. Women's Open had a record 286 participants, beating the previous mark of 267 set in 2003. Bowlers from 17 countries competed.
Cowboys Stadium: Not just for football
Tonight's U.S. Women's Open will add to the many sports other than football to have been played at Cowboys Stadium. Some highlights:
Mexico vs. El Salvador, CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals
June 5, 2011
North Carolina vs. Texas, men's college basketball
Dec. 19, 2009
NBA All-Star Game
Feb. 14, 2010
Professional Bull Riders Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational
Feb. 20, 2010
Monster Jam monster trucks
Feb. 27 2010
Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito
Nov. 13, 2010