It’s unlikely OU-Texas will stay at Cotton Bowl

The Oklahoma-Texas game is one step closer to a probable move after the Cotton Bowl announced this week it will shift about 20 miles west to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington.

Despite assurances from Dallas city officials that the Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park is still a viable venue for major college sports events, it would seem inevitable that OU-Texas is sure to follow the Cotton Bowl game’s lead in searching for a new home.

Oklahoma and Texas officials have been saying all the right things in public. The Sooners and Longhorns want to keep playing at the Cotton Bowl stadium as the centerpiece event for the State Fair of Texas.

But, privately, both schools have been studying the various options that are available for the future of the game.

Sure, a huge financial package that includes major renovations at the Cotton Bowl could still save the traditional October Saturday in Dallas. That now appears to be a long shot, at best.

However, it would seem far more feasible and realistic to believe the game will soon move to home-and-home or out to the new Cowboys stadium.

There’s no reason to believe the OU- Texas game will remain at Fair Park past the current contract, signed last year, that ends in 2010.

There are far too many hurdles to keeping the game at Fair Park.

A move to the new stadium or to a rotation between Norman and Austin would appear to be the best options.

There will be little incentive for Dallas to pour millions into the 71-year-old stadium to keep it an option for Oklahoma-Texas. Without the Cotton Bowl game, it leaves the stadium with just two major clients — OU-Texas and Grambling-Prairie View.

Neither of those generate the revenue of the Cotton Bowl. While Oklahoma and Texas teams come into Dallas for one night, along with most of their fans, the Cotton Bowl teams stay for a week and fans of the bowl game usually stay two or more nights.

In other words, the biggest revenue producer among the three games, by a significant amount, is the Cotton Bowl.

Sure, Dallas officials are saying they’ll do whatever is necessary to keep OU-Texas. That isn’t likely.

To put the kind of money into the stadium to keep OU-Texas doesn’t make financial sense.

It makes far more sense for Dallas to start working to keep the game in the metroplex.

If the game is destined to be moved, then it would benefit Dallas to jump on board with the new stadium in Arlington.

Fans will still flock into Dallas hotels and pack Dallas restau rants and bars whether the game is at Fair Park or in Arlington, but the big winner in a move to Arlington will be Fort Worth.

If it goes home-and-home, Dallas and Fort Worth will catch only an occasional fan passing through to Norman or Austin.

There is much sentiment at OU and UT to go home-and-home if the Cotton Bowl stadium is abandoned. The reasoning is simple. The financial windfall of any home game, especially one with a team like Texas or Oklahoma, is huge.

Still, there is something to be said for keeping the game in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It would remain a centerpiece game for college football, one of the few neutral site games on the college schedule between traditional powers.

The new stadium won’t just be another stadium. The $1 billion venue will feature over 200 suites, up to 100,000 seats and promises to be the greatest football facility ever built.

Plans call for a retractable roof and state-of-the-art amenities in every area of construction.

It’ll have more and better of everything in a football stadium. Plus, if you really miss the fair midway, Six Flags is next door.

Officials in Dallas believe the $50 million in stadium improvements to the Cotton Bowl will be the first step in keeping OU-Texas.

Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, LSU, Baylor and Notre Dame are among the schools Dallas officials have said are interested in some type of future games at the Fair Park.

Maybe. Given the option to play in the greatest stadium ever built would probably trump any offer from the Cotton Bowl stadium.

Yes, it would be nice to keep OU-Texas at the traditional home as the centerpiece of the State Fair of Texas.

But, it just doesn’t appear feasible or possible past the current four-year deal.

Things change. Even OU-Texas.


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