Elevatorgate at 2011 ESA Summit Extravaganza

The 2011 ESA Summit Extravaganza was held in the AT&T Star Club at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, last night. Members showed up sporting their favorite team jerseys: Packers, Chiefs, Eagles, Jets, Redskins, Vikings and Dolphins to name a few. Of course, there were also Cowboys fans in the house.

The reception was kicked off with three Green Bay fans lifting their jerseys to reveal painted a "G" on their chests to show team spirit.

The evening spanned all emotions, from laughter and tears -- thanks to a moving "In Memoriam" tribute -- to panic, when 24 of us became trapped in elevator 1 for an hour.

After the ESA Leadership Awards were handed out (congratulations to the winners: ADS Security, Safety Technologies, H&S Protection Systems and ASG), it was time for a backstage tour of Cowboys Stadium.

We saw the AT&T Data Center; the Sony Club; the radio booths; the command post, where Arlington police and fire personnel monitor all live events; the control room, where producers and directors are stationed; and at around 11 p.m., the tour of the field was next.

AT&T Data Center AT&T Data Center
Command Post Control Room

Our over-eager tour guide packed 24 of us into a regular-sized elevator. As we reached the field level, we heard a metal screetch.  The doors did not open. Our very-apologetic tour guide radioed for help.

As the minutes ticked on, Dom D'Ascoli, president of ESA, and other ESA members became comedians, cracking jokes to alleviate the situation. As someone who is claustrophobic and has been dreading this very scenario all her life, I never imagined I'd laugh as much as I did throughout the experience. The cool airflow did not hurt either! If I had to be trapped again, I sure hope I'm with the same funny, calm and good-spirited bunch.

For an extended video clip, click here.

D'Ascoli even collected our business cards, quipped about our entrapment being a networking opportunity and half-joked about sending us "We survived..." t-shirts. Another member threatened to give us an Amway presentation while we waited and there were many requests for alcohol to folks on the other side of the door. No one panicked -- at least outwardly -- and we really made the best of it.  We started taking pictures and videos to pass the time. After some hilarious demands, such as free tickets to the Super Bowl, asking the command center to stream video of our entrapment onto the giant Mitsubishi TV screen and use of Jerry Jones' private bathroom in his suite, finally, after an hour, stadium staff were able to open the doors. The over-stuffed elevator's extra weight caused the elevator cab to fall below the floor level, which caused the malfunction. Freedom involved a big step up onto the field level.

We finally made our way to the field, and it was totally worth it! Walking onto the field was an amazing and surreal experience.

A night that involves privilaged backstage access to the grandest sports stadium in the world and facing --and possibly conquering -- one of my worst fears makes this one event I will never forget.

Posted by Sherleen Mahoney on Jan 12, 2011

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