IRVING – For 11 seasons Robert Newhouse pounded the defensive lines of the opposition at Texas Stadium as a hammering fullback for the Dallas Cowboys football team.
From 1972 to 1983 he was a major contributor to the glory days of the Cowboys under former head coach Tom Landry.
Today, Newhouse is back on the offense with the Dallas Cowboys. But this time, as a team representative in ticket sales and promotions, he’s trying to form lines – not run through them.
Old No. 44 now works selling season and group tickets to area businesses and organizations as part of an intensive marketing campaign launched last season by Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Newhouse said.. “When you’re a player you hear the cheers and the boos, but you never get the opportunity to meet or know the fans.”
Newhouse meets with groups at the offices of individual companies and with members of organizations. He was the catalyst behind getting the Cowboys involved with several area Pee Wee football organizations.
He acknowledges that being Robert Newhouse has helped get his foot in the door with several large local corporations, such as American Airlines, GTE, Bell Helicopter Textron, Delta Air Lines and Electronic Data Systems Corp.
“It helps that I didn’t fumble the ball too many times and I made one or two good plays,” he said.
The Cowboys’ marketing push has proved successful over the past two years, despite a lot of negative publicity surrounding Jones when he took control of the franchise in February 1989 and bought the lease rights to Texas Stadium.
Improvements on the field, in the front office and at the stadium have helped the Cowboys sell 46,000 season tickets so far this year – a 12 percent increase from the 41,200 the team sold last year.
Season ticket sales since Jones acquired the team have climbed 20 percent over the 38,300 sold in 1988, the season before he bought the Cowboys.
At the same time, average attendance has climbed in each of the last two seasons, increasing from 49,141 in 1988 to 52,293 in 1989 to 59,429 last season – a 21 percent jump during the past two years.
The reason behind that success is simple, said Joel Finglass, the team’s director of sales and promotions: The Cowboys are winning again.
“Winning cures all your problems,” he said.
He noted that although the team lost 1,500 season ticket holders this year, it signed up 7,000 new buyers.
“If we continue marketing the way we’re marketing and the team continues improving every year, we’ll pass the Cowboys’ season ticket record of 51,000 (set in the early 1980s),” he said.
Selling 51,000 season tickets would mean a big boost for the team and area fans. Cowboys’ home games would appear more often on local television because the team would only be 9,000 tickets away from selling out every game.
The stadium holds 65,000, but 5,000 of those seats are in the luxury suites – owned primarily by corporations – that line the rim of the stadium.
Finglass brought back people like Newhouse and former cheerleader Tamara Fulton to work selling tickets for the Cowboys.
“People like to know they are talking to a former cheerleader,” Fulton said. “They like to talk to Robert Newhouse for the same reason. It helps in selling tickets.”
The team’s three-tiered marketing plan includes boosting attendance at pre-season games, selling to companies and organizations and increasing pre-games sales of individual tickets.
It focuses on Fort Worth-Dallas, but also goes into areas of the state, like Austin, where the Cowboys have a loyal following.
The team develops marketing plans and sales goals for each game, such as the “Black and Blue” theme for Monday’s Raiders-Cowboys matchup, in which the team organization pushed season ticket sales.
Group tickets go to groups of 25 or more fans at a special $21 rate, $4 under the regular price.
The Cowboys ensure each group that they will be seated together and recognized in the game program – Gameday Magazine – and mentioned on the stadium’s Diamond Vision monitors.
This year’s season-ticket campaign was based on the theme of “Catch a Rising Star,” and used former and current Cowboys quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.
The team’s season ticket flier mentions draft picks Russell Maryland, the 1990 Outland Trophy winner from the University of Miami, and Alvin Harper, a rookie wide receiver who has done well in pre-season games.
It advises fans to “secure your seats now so you can be there when the stars come out to shine.”
Said Finglass: “We want to let people know that if they didn’t get their season tickets this year that the seat locations aren’t getting any better.
“Now is the time to get involved with us. Don’t wait until we’re 15-and-1 because then there won’t be any good seats.”