After the AT&T Cotton Bowl game packs up and leaves Dallas in January 2009, our grand old decrepit/refurbished Fair Park stadium will almost immediately host another college football bowl game. So says State Fair of Texas president Errol McKoy."I'll say it with certainty," McKoy told Unfair Park Tuesday afternoon. "We've got two different bowls -- one existing and one new one -- seriously looking at the Cotton Bowl for their game come 2010."
For those of us who've been chastising Cotton Bowl renovations as the spending of $50 million to smear lipstick on a pig, this is big, refreshing news. After visiting the Cowboys' new joint out in Arlington last week for the announcement of the Texas A&M-Arkansas series, I called McKoy to check on the status of talks to bring a Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game to Fair Park in 2009. Turns out -- despite Jerry Jones wooing his close friend and gazillionaire OSU booster T. Boone Pickens -- that could still happen as well.
"We’re working on them, and we’re not about to play second fiddle to anyone," says McKoy. "At this point we think our chances are as good as anyone else's. Our place will never be spit-shine new, but we think with 90,000 seats and a 300-acre park bustling with activities outside, the Cotton Bowl is still one of the most attractive facilities in college football. It's Dallas' field of champions."
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Actually, the A&M-Arkansas move to Arlington probably bolsters Dallas' chances of landing Tech-OSU. Teams are willing to give up home dates, but only if the money is right and the setting and atmosphere are unique enough to call their own. That said, the telling point will be when Texas-OU takes the new Cotton Bowl upgrades for a test drive in October. A good review and, presto, Fair Park could land another game. But another bowl game?
It's gonna be weird enough seeing the Cotton Bowl leave the namesake stadium it's played in since 1937. But the old stadium getting re-married? So soon? Delicious.
McKoy said negotiations are also ongoing with eight different combinations of regular-season rivalries, as well as with an international soccer tour and with a major concert promoter. Considering the place can't even attract a high-school playoff game these days, we'll believe those when we see it. But McKoy went on to say he thinks the Metroplex can -- and will -- support three bowl games in 2010 with the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Arlington, the Fort Worth Bowl at TCU and a new game in Fair Park.
Adds Chris Heinbaugh, Mayor Tom Leppert's chief of staff, "In our opinion the Cotton Bowl is still the best place to play and watch college football in this area." Mr. Jones, your move. --Richie Whitt