Texas History

Heritage to Sell Odd Bit of Cotton Bowl History. Turns Out, the City Has Its Own Stash o' Seats.

For the longest time I've had this auction item sitting on my desktop: a chair said to be from the Cotton Bowl circa 1960-'62, during the Dallas Texans' days at Fair Park. Heritage is parting with the curio this weekend, during the same auction at which it's offering the Ted Williams Texas Rangers and Dallas Eagles jerseys. And I'll assume it's The Real Deal: PR man Noah Fleisher says the consigner and the auction house's consultant vouch for its authenticity. Besides, it's cheaper than Scott Laidlaw's Super Bowl XII ring.

But, for grins, I shot the link to Fair Park historian Willis Winters, who's also second-in-command at Park and Rec. Wondered if maybe he knew what was what. Nope, he said. "Strange," he said. And then he said this:

In 1968, the Dallas Cowboys yanked out all the old Cotton Bowl seats and installed those aluminum-armed turquoise-and-white torture devices that stayed long past the team's departure for Irving in 1971 -- all the way till the $57-million redo completed in September 2008, matter of fact. It never occurred to me to ask till today, but whatever happened to those old chairs anyhow?

Well, said Winters, "99 percent of them were recycled, but several sections -- about 40, 50 chairs -- sit in a Park Department warehouse." You don't say. "Along with the gold rings from the parking garage where Main Street Garden is now." Interesting. Seems to me if old Texas Stadium seats can go for a few hundred on eBay, certainly a cash-strapped city might want to consider auctioning them off to make a few bucks.

Maybe so, he said. Except the city would probably have to go through Lone Star Auctioneers, where they might not fetch as much as they would through Heritage or elsewhere. I said: Certainly Tom Perkins's office can find a way around that. "Let's see if this [red chair] gets a lot of money," Winters said. "Then maybe we'll consider sending ours to Heritage."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky