If Texas and OU Need More Seats to Stay at the Cotton Bowl, Well, There Is Room to Expand
Turns out, though, all that money and all those seats and upgrades were nice, but not enough to guarantee Texas and Oklahoma will stay at the Cotton Bowl past 2015. A Friend of Unfair Park directs our attention to UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds's comments made earlier this week about how if Texas and OU are going to Red River shoot-out past the current contract, then the city and State Fair are going to "need to bring something to the table to have us go beyond that," which is why State Fair President Errol McKoy and Pete Schenkel are working on a plan to present to council some time early next year.
But, our Friend wonders: Is that even possible -- adding more and more to a stadium that's just been through a fairly extensive renovation? To which the short answer is: Yes, absolutely.
On the other side, Willis Winters, second in command at Park & Rec and one of those who oversaw the recent redo, explains.
"There is room," Winter tells Unfair Park this afternoon. "When we renovated and expanded three years ago, we designed it" so there would be room to expand if need be. "If you go now, there are club seats in the end zone over the team ramps. The two upper decks were designed structurally to allow that club seating -- and there's 200 seats in there -- to go around the two new upper decks in each end zone. So, structurally and from a design standpoint, it's very easy for us to add in additional club seats. We anticipated that this would be a request at some point in the future and incorporated it into the design.
"Basically, it's all open-steel structure under the upper deck, and it's easy to come back in and drop in a concrete slab and five, six rows of sets. But we'd have to put in stairs, restrooms and concession stands."
Not an elevator?
"There's an elevator in the south end zone and in the north," he says, "so, no, I don't think so."
As for how many extra seats they could pack into the Cotton Bowl, well, Winters doesn't want to be too specific at the moment. After all, this is a ways down the road, and the city would have to hire an architectural design firm and draw up construction docs before it can drill down to the exact number of seats it can add. So, for now, let's leave it at this: "It's substantial." Not ginormous, not insignificant -- but somewhere in between. Substantial.
As for the cost ...
I've left messages for McKoy and Schenkel, who Winters says have been crunching the numbers. Right now, though, the city understands the price tag to be somewhere around $35 million. And, Winters reminds, there's no city money available to pay for the project -- which is why, per Chuck Carlton's story, Schenkel's crafting a plan to present to city officials sooner than later. If the State Fair or the private sector wants to cough up the money, that would be one thing; but if they expect the city to kick in a contribution, Winters says, that would have to be part of a bond program. And City Hall's just now gearing up for the 2012 bond election, which will be held in 14 months.
Finally, how long would this latest round of renovations take? Not long at all.
"It could be done in one season, between the Ticket City Bowl and the Texas-OU game in October," Winters says. "That project could probably be accomplished in a 10-month period."