Picking Cotton

Texas-OU is great and all, but what about the Cotton Bowl's other 51 Saturdays a year?

The minuscule gathering was swallowed by the mammoth stadium, like Winona Ryder trying to fill out Amber Campisi's bra.

The Cotton Bowl is finally a bowl, its open ends now closed and stubbornly blocking out the scenic views of the Texas Giant, Big Tex and the downtown skyline. A fresh coat of sand-colored paint has been slapped on widened corridors and concourses, and the restrooms have increased in quality and quantity. The video scoreboard is fantastic and mesmerizing. Unless, that is, you happen to be sitting in the south end zone, whereupon it's inconveniently located in your blind spot, leaving you looking at a north end-zone auxiliary scoreboard with pizzazz befitting a Class A high-school field.

The biggest change is the seating. From a capacity of 76,000 to 92,000, making it the nation's ninth-largest stadium. And from fold-down seats to 26 miles of hard, skinny aluminum benches, making it no longer cozy nor comfy. Style has always ridden shotgun to the Cotton Bowl's substance, but you'd think $57 million would offer something a little less barbaric than armless, contiguous, numbered personal spaces.

For the new and improved Cotton Bowl to be a viable venue, it had better bring in some attractive sports gigs—and fast.
For the new and improved Cotton Bowl to be a viable venue, it had better bring in some attractive sports gigs—and fast.

Not to say the stadium needs placement on Leppert's hit list of eyesore buildings to be paved over before the Super Bowl's "arrival" in 2011. Some Botox, a little liposuction and, voila!, the 76-year-old is presentable and functional, if not irresistibly desirable.

  Works for Cloris Leachman, why not the Cotton Bowl?

With the stadium's trademark game and our region's major sporting events migrating to Arlington, something about this reconstruction smacks of a horse and a barn and a door. It will take Tech-OSU, TCU-SMU, Mexico vs. Real Madrid and perhaps a new bowl game pitting teams from the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA to resurrect the stadium's relevancy.

For now, The House That Doak Walker built—once playing to Tom Landry and Jim Brown and Elvis and the Texxas Jam—is being kept on life support by Grambling's kick-ass band and a former Cowboys defensive end's small-school alma mater.

I, too, hope the sparkling old stadium keeps Texas-OU past its current contract and lands another crown jewel or two, lest it go the way of once-proud Midway sideshows like the bearded lady and fried Twinkies.

T. Boone Pickens is impressed. Color me intrigued.a

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