2011 ESA Summit Extravaganza Ends with (Surprisingly Fun) Elevator Entrapment

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 to tears, thanks to a moving "In Memoriam" tribute, to a birthday singalong to panic, when 24 of us became trapped in elevator 1 for an hour.

The event included a backstage tour of Cowboys Stadium. We saw the AT&T Data Center, the Sony Club, the radio booths, the command post, the control room, and at around 11 pm, 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. Dom D'Ascoli, president of ESA, who was trapped with us said that was the sound of the elevator brake. The doors did not open. Our very-apologetic tour guide radioed for help.

As the minutes ticked on, D'Ascoli 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 coolness and 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.

D'Ascoli even collected all 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. Finally, after an hour, stadium staff were able to open the doors. The over-stuff elevator's extra weight caused the elevator cab to fall below the field 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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