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The Star at Frisco is an accidental secret weapon for the Cowboys

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They went big when it was built, and that is exactly what the new rules and guidelines for opening the league require.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Facility Tour
When bigger really is better.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is looking more and more like it is going to happen. There will be some adjustments caused by having to deal with the continuing threat of coronavirus, but the league offices just issued guidelines for how the teams can begin practices. We may be only a month or so away from the start of training camp for the Dallas Cowboys. However, those guidelines have some provisions that are going to be difficult for many teams to follow. Some of them, particularly those that deal with the requirements to maintain a form of social distancing, turn out to be much easier for Dallas to deal with. That is all because when they built their current team facilities, the Star at Frisco, they accidentally provided the one thing that would be needed. Space. Lots and lots of space.

The big issue that is now a major headache for so many franchises is that lockers must now be separated by six feet. Many of them are going to have to scramble to find that room in practice facilities that simply don’t have the square footage to make it easy to do. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News ran down the facilities that the Star and Ford Center, a part of the complex, provide for the Cowboys to use.

The Cowboys’ main locker room currently houses 78 players. There’s a back room, normally reserved for rookies in camp, that has an additional 27 lockers. The number in both drops dramatically with 6 feet of space between players.

But there are another two rooms with a total of 100 lockers at the adjacent Ford Center for high school football. There are at least two other auxiliary rooms that can be used for additional lockers or to store and sanitize equipment between practices.

There is a thing called the Law of Unintended Consequences that refers to usually bad results that were not anticipated when decisions are made and actions taken. This is one of the rare instances when good things ensue. No one foresaw that there would come a day when health and the very ability to prepare for and play an NFL season would require the now familiar concept of social distancing. The Cowboys, and the Jones family who oversaw the planning and development of the Star, were no exception. The motivation behind the luxurious and expansive facilities was to set a new standard for a team’s headquarters and facilities. One innovative feature that it had was to make the indoor practice facility a mulit-use one. It is not just an indoor field for climate controlled practices, which is of course a necessity during the summer in Dallas. It was designed as a 12,000 seat stadium and the team entered a partnership with the local school districts to hold some of their games in it. That meant that there would be additional locker room facilities. Now those are available, and just as convenient to the field as the team’s normal one.

There will still be some logistical work to allow those high schools to have their games, which are expected to start in late August. But that will mostly mean packing up the Cowboys players’ equipment and personal effects for storage on game nights, and moving them back when the team has practice. Compared to what other teams will be having to do, it will not be that big a task, and will almost certainly be more comfortable and convenient for Dallas’ personnel.

Every little bit helps in trying to prepare for the season as well as conducting practices in season. That should translate to a small but not insignificant advantage for the Cowboys.

The rest of the facilities are also spacious, which should make it easier to adhere to the additional guidelines for working out and keeping things properly sanitized. Additionally, that may just help prevent players and staff from being infected if one of them brings the virus into the Star.

The Star was always intended to be an advantage for the team by providing state of the art facilities as well as being a selling point for prospective free agents. Now it has become another kind of advantage entirely, one that may be of tremendous help in this strange environment. You take the wins, whether you really meant to get them or not.