Overflow Parking at Cowboys Stadium

By Eric Nelson, Trinity Industries, Inc.

Location: Arlington, Texas

Owner: Dallas Cowboys Blue Star Development Company

Architect/Designer: HKS Sports and Entertainment Group

Landscape Architect: Newman, Jackson, Bieberstein Inc.

The Story: 12,000 cubic yards of PaveGro Soil Mix used for overflow parking at the new Cowboys Stadium

As America’s team you want the best for your fans. So when the Dallas Cowboys built their new stadium in Arlington, Texas, no details were spared in creating the best possible experience, both inside and out.

Part of their design included the overflow parking areas. These are spaces that get limited use except during home football gamesCowboys Stadium 1 and special events like rock concerts, national conventions, and college/professional playoff venues. While the designers studied many options from concrete, asphalt and geo-grid systems for grass, they settled on PaveGro for their overflow parking needs. Some 12,000 cubic yards of the expanded shale and sandy clay soil mix was installed along the perimeter of all main parking and remote parking lots to help filter runoff and provide a green alternative for tailgating activities. These areas are often the first to be utilized as fans set up their “tailgate sites” some 5-8 hours before kickoff.

The main component of the soil mix is expanded shale that is manufactured by Texas Industries. Raw shale is mined and fired in a rotary kiln at 2,000° Fahrenheit to produce a material that is lightweight, porous, inert, and extremely durable. When blended with a suitable sandy clay loam and lightly compacted, it produces a structurally sound profile well suited to healthy turf growth while providing temporary vehicular traffic such as overflow parking, fire lane access and event staging areas. The other benefits include:

  • Improved filtering of stormwater runoff
  • A reduction of the heat island effect
  • A natural place for tailgating activities
  • Less cost than traditional pavements
  • Easy to install
  • Aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sensitive

Depending on soil conditions, a typical PaveGro profile is between six and eight inches. From the ground up these layers include: a compacted subgrade, a geo-grid membrane, a 2” layer of one inch stone (optional in some soils), a 6” layer of the soil mix, and sod. A test plot was constructed in advance of construction and it was determined that a 6” soil mix with a geo-grid was sufficient with the existing soils. This system was instrumental in protecting Johnson Creek from the various oils, chemicals and hydrocarbons washing off the pavement during typical rains. LEED points (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) could have been awarded to this project for stormwater management, reduction in the heat island effect (non-roof) and the use of locally manufacture materials.

Additionally, some of the major turf areas and landscape beds around the stadium had expanded shale incorporated

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