Texas-OU To Remain At Cotton Bowl Through 2008

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller announced Wednesday that the City of Dallas and the State Fair will provide additional expense money to Texas and OU, waive the rental fee for the Cotton Bowl, and make restroom renovations and add 4,000 additional end zone seats to the stadium, an effort that will keep the game in Big D for at least another five years.

The agreement, however, is an interim measure. Both schools want more revenue from the game, and the Cotton Bowl stadium is close to tapped out in terms of revenue potential. Eventually, the game's location will change. Whether it remains on the Fairgrounds or elsewhere in Dallas, moves to another "neutral" city, or reverts to a home-and-home will depend on a combination of factors, but none bigger than financial.

In the December edition of the Inside Texas magazine, I wrote the following editorial with my thoughts on the future of the game:

I Wish I Was In The Land Of Cotton

By Clendon Ross

It’s becoming a yearly occurrence. You can just about set your clock by it. No, I’m not talking about UT’s annual early October loss to Oklahoma in Dallas. I’m talking about the inevitable stories about the Texas-OU game’s tenuous position at the historic but decaying Cotton Bowl.

For several years, the cries largely emanated from north of the Red River, with at least one prominent Sooner booster -- the ridiculously named E.Z. Millions -- grumbling that the annual shootout should switch to a home-and-home format so that the state of Oklahoma, and Norman area businesses in particular, would reap the rewards of the game being played on the OU campus every other year. Typically, that argument has been roundly rejected in both camps, although the idea has more traction amongst those in crimson and cream than those in Burnt Orange.

With each passing year, as the Cotton Bowl continues to deteriorate and other cities and stadiums vie to host the annual shootout, the once unthought of possibility of a move becomes less remote. Last year, Texas Motor Speedway offered up a plan that would drastically increase attendance at the event (and at the near-$100 ticket price, any increase in seating could mean huge revenue gains for each school). This year, Houston and Reliant Stadium made its bid, while some civic leaders in San Antonio are considering a push to lure the game to the Alamodome. And there’s still the home-and-home idea floating around.

To all that I say, Stop the Madness!

The Texas-OU game no more belongs in Houston or San Antonio than in Honolulu or Spokane. Nor does it belong anywhere in the Metroplex but on the grounds of the State Fair. Texas-OU is the Cotton Bowl. It is Fletcher’s Corn Dogs and the International Food Pavilion just steps from the Burnt Orange end of the stadium. It is the gigantic Ferris Wheel and the Midway. It is the Car Show and $15 parking. The uniqueness of the game isn’t simply the half Orange-half red stadium. It is much, much more, including all of the things listed above, things that simply can not be replicated anywhere else, regardless of the comfort and amenities of the stadium and the incentives offered by the host city.

So, I humbly offer my solution: get Jerry Jones involved!

What?!? Why would Dallas Cowboys owner and former Arkansas Razorback player Jones want anything to do with Texas-OU? Well, it's simply economics (something that Jones values above most all else) and necessity.

The Cowboys are considering a new venue, possibly in or near downtown Dallas, to replace aging Texas Stadium in Irving, their home since 1971. And where did the ‘Boys play from 1960-1971? You guessed it, the Cotton Bowl. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Jones' team play in the old stadium as it stands today. I’m suggesting that Jones, in conjunction with the City of Dallas and the State Fair, tear down and rebuild the Cotton Bowl as a modern, amenity-filled stadium. A retractable roof, luxury suites, bars, clubs, restaurants, whatever. But to make this idea a reality, the City of Dallas will have to appeal to the business side of Jones, which means a massive redevelopment project -- with Jones intimately involved -- in and around the Fairgrounds, perhaps all the way to downtown. Hotels, condos, office buildings, you name it.

It would not only solve the Texas-OU dilemma, but also provide the Cowboys a new home with a direct tie to its storied past. It would make Dallas a viable Super Bowl venue and the Cotton Bowl competitive in its attempts to return to tier 1 bowl status along with its more tropical climate peers. It would also economically revitalize a blighted part of the city within a mile or so of Big D’s downtown. Oh, and it just might make Mr. Jones a mint.

Hey, I can dream big. And I’m only asking for a small percentage of the take! Anyone got Jerry’s number?

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