Sunday, April 15, 2012
Movie review: America’s Parking Lot at the Dallas International Film Festival
Although not intended to be an exposé on Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion new stadium, the film shows the impact it had on the Gate 6 Tailgaters.
If you thought you were a Dallas Cowboys fan, you might reconsider your credentials after seeing America’s Parking Lot. The documentary chronicles the “Gate 6 Tailgaters,” a group of super fans who made a name for themselves amongst fellow football enthusiasts and staff at the former home of America’s Team in Irving – Texas Stadium.
America’s Parking Lot official trailer
The film focuses on Stan “Tiger” Shults and Cy Ditmore, aka “Cy Daddy.” First-time director Jonny Mars (or “stalker,” as the stars have playfully dubbed him), followed the men and their families, friends, and fellow rabble-rousers from Gate 6 from 2006 to 2010. One of the film’s opening scenes shows a magnetic, blue-eyed Tiger disdainfully telling the story about how his first marriage ended because (gasp!) his wife made him choose between her and the Cowboys. His decision was a no-brainer.
The documentary crew wades through mounds of Cowboys memorabilia upon entering the front doors of both men’s houses. Tiger, who is now re-married, has a daughter named Meredith Landry, after Don Meredith and Tom Landry. Cy is a bona fide bachelor who lives outside of Abilene and makes the almost 370 mile round trip to every home game, touting his 25-foot party trailer decorated with women’s panties from past and current seasons.
Although not intended to be an exposé on Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, the film shows the impact that the cost and red tape have had on the Gate 6 Tailgaters, who have built their local legacy over the course of the last 20-or-so years. The message is that the average Joe – the hard working, blue collar football fan – no longer has easy access to the roar of the crowd and the rush of excitement that comes with sharing a Cowboys victory with thousands of franchise brethren.
Mars and co. interview various sources, ranging from owner Jones to reporters from companies like The New York Times. The reporters focus on the new trend of owners dipping into public – that is, taxpayer – funds in order to build private, billion-dollar enterprises. Jones and his staff attempt to explain the high cost of the Personal Seat License, or “PSL,” which can range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 per seat, per season just to have the rights to buy a ticket.
Cy only briefly considers not signing the 30-year contract that is required of PSL holders. He chooses his ‘Boys over constructing the home he has designed, and even recycles beer cans from games in order to save money to cover his expenses. Feeling like a fairweather fan yet?
The crew then ventures to Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, with Tiger and his wife, who travel to one away game each season. The brotherhood of fans there fills Tiger with pride and admiration for the Cheesehead traditions that have weathered change through generations. The film notes that the field is publicly owned, and should it ever need expansion, there is land reserved for it. It is a living, breathing part of the Packers franchise, something that is not owned and cannot be destroyed. Something Tiger wishes Jones had seen in Texas Stadium.
“America’s Team” really is the perfect analogy for the Cowboys, as the driving force behind covering expenses for the new stadium is all about that dolla' bill. Gone are the days of first come, first serve tailgating. At the new stadium, the patron with the most expensive PSL gets a pre-reserved spot in the parking lot of his or her choice. Cy finds out the hard way that he can no longer save spots for other tailgaters, and for the first season he and Tiger are split halfway across Jerryworld.
But ain’t that America? Out with the old, in with the shiny and (profitable) new. Build it and they will come, won’t they? Maybe. But over-spending has its consequences: The film notes that last year, the Cowboys filed lawsuits for millions of dollars worth of defaulted PSL finance contracts.
America’s Parking Lot is a must-see for football fans of any team. If Jones’ Cowboys are the front runners of the league (as their ticket prices would indicate), then this film shows us the future of the NFL. It makes for an interesting look into the crystal ball.
- Angelika Film Center & Cafe
5321 East Mockingbird Lane
- Age limit: All ages $10 - $750
America's Parking Lot will be shown a second time at the Dallas International Film Festival on Monday at the Angelika in Dallas. Tickets are on "rush" status, which means you have to wait in line to see if there will be room. The film will show next in Oklahoma at the Dead Center Film Festival. It may be available online by early fall, according to the producer.
Katie Lansford and Sarah Calams are students at the University of North Texas and members of the Pegasus News community.