Texas and OU, Count Your Money: The Cotton Bowl's $25 Million Facelift is a Lock

CottonBowl.jpg
The backdrop, the pageantry, the Fried Everything: There are plenty of reasons the folks at Texas and Oklahoma wouldn't mind keeping the schools' annual rivalry at the Cotton Bowl.

But these are college football guys we're talking about, so you can't underestimate the Big R. The schools split $10 million in revenue with the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl, Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told the News recently, more than they would if they moved the game back to Austin and Norman. So, yeah: They want to stay here. The sheen on their back-up jets depends on it.

But the sheen on their back-up jets also depends on happy Sooners and Longhorns fans, and that happiness depends on the very swankiest accommodations. Thus the schools' call for $25 million in spruce-ups to the Cotton Bowl, just a few years after the city shelled out $57 mil for the same purpose. Clean it up and the game stays in Dallas through 2020: That's the deal, Pete Schenkel, chairman of the State Fair of Texas' sports committee, told the City Council late yesterday.

"Do we have a signed commitment? No," he said. "We have in Texas what I would call a handshake deal. ... It's ours to lose."

If anyone on the council harbors any hesitation, they weren't saying it on mic. The whole crew basically called the $25 million a no-brainer, with only Ann Margolin and Scott Griggs even pointing out the debt implications.

"This is knocking out other dollars," Margolin said. "I'm going to support it, but I think we need to put that on the table."

Everyone else was all in, with Dwaine Caraway suggesting that the city do an even bigger round of renovations, including artificial turf that could help the stadium host more events without fear of ripping up the grass for the next event.

"We must invest in the Cotton Cowl once and for all ..." he said. "When all these folks come here, all their eyes are on our house. And we can't continue to just patch it."

Caraway was echoing a similar point made by Griggs, who noted that the city was "buying a new stadium $50 million and $25 million at a time."

"It's like an old car that you've gotta keep taking to the shop," Caraway said. "You have to break down and do something you may not be prepared to do and buy a new car."

And where would the city find money to do that in the midst of a budget crisis?

"There are some creative ways for us to find some additional dollars," he said, vaguely. "I have some ideas, but I'm not going to put them out publicly." For some reason I'm picturing a complicated scheme to take down Las Vegas. Although felony bribery might be more fun.

The council will vote to borrow the money next week. Construction would start in January and be finished in time for next year's game, when Lee Corso is expected to christen the improved stadium with his biggest F-bomb yet.

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49 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Dallas can't fix a street,install street light keep parks open pay it's debt service,spent 57 million on Cotton Bowl four years ago but did not include this new renovation? What the hell.City won't keep Fair Park open year around  for entertament  but will spend this kind of money for Once A Year Visitors. Where is leadership why was this not included in first 57 million we have not started to pay it back yet.Where is Tea Party or do they only oppose Obama spending.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 That's the deal, Pete Schenkel, chairman of the State Fair of Texas' sports committee, told the City Council late yesterday.

"Do we have a signed commitment? No," he said. "We have in Texas what I would call a handshake deal. ... It's ours to lose."

This speaks for it self as well !

Zach
Zach

This part is seriously disturbing. We're really forking out $25m on a "handshake deal"? Some accountability for common sense is called for.

dallasmay
dallasmay

Remember: The Cotton Bowl is actually quite a bit larger than Jerry World. 

Real fans don't want to watch games in a dome. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The Death Star is only a dome because Jerry never opens the freaking roof.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

Sidewalks don't make it on to postcards. Bridges, stadiums, skyscrapers....do. When building a city's image, the commoners, will have to take a back seat.

GoDallas
GoDallas

Now that the new has worn off of JerryWorld the truth is coming out... A&M/Ark just released info that they don't make as much at JerryWorld as TX/OU do at Cotton Bowl.  The Cotton Bowl needs to use it's assets better to capture more games/events.

1.  They need to play up the History -- do a museum -- Statues of great players all around the place. 2.  They need to play up the open air  -- someone on here said "Real fans don't want it in a dome" 3.  Create a "Texas" Size Trophy that can be carted back and forth each year to the home of the winner.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I would imagine TX/OU makes more because of the State Fair, not bc of the cotton bowl, and more people care about TX/OU than they do about two SEC teams

dallasmay
dallasmay

No, I think it's mostly the other way around. The Fair continues to be extremely popular BECAUSE the game is there. Most other state fairs have shriveled into shadows of their glory days. 

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

How would the schools be making more off of the Fair?  The schools basically get the game ticket sales split between them and split the money the city pays them to cover travel and lodging.  The schools make more because they charge a higher premium for the seats and actually sell out what is a rather large stadium. Inaddition to the city covering the weekend costs.  A&M gives discount tickets to students and the A&M/Ark game does not sell as many tickets, thus they make less at JerryWorld.I like the idea of a Football museum and great player statues.  They could replace the women's museum that's closed/ing?  Fair Park during the fair should bill itself as the Mecca of the football world.  Everyone who's a fan should feel required to make a pilgrimage. 0 Since it's a religion down here already, football should play a heavy hand in October.  Hold conferences and national shows about Football in general. Have them play charity games during the weeks of the fair.  Steal the Texas Sports hall of Fame from Waco and give them buildings and top billing during the month with induction ceremonies during the fair.  

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

Attention Pig: Your lipstick shipment has arrived.

RC
RC

Brilliant. I gotta steal that line for just about everything else the city approves.

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

This is a rare smart move for the city council, or suhm, or whoever the hell runs this city. That game must be worth at least $5 mil a year in economic impact for Dallas, so to lock them up for another 5 years is great. Because once it's gone to the souless Jerry-world out on that concrete prairie, its gone for good. Sure, some folks will still stay in Dallas, but many will take their cash to Tarrant Co.

Why not try to bring in some additional college games, like SMU/TCU, NTSU/UH, etc during the fair or other weekends.   

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

Not sure TCU is going to travel across the metroplex for a neutral site game after spending a bunch of money upgrading their stadium.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

Yes, the Red River game is worth keeping, but at this price? Can't the city keep it for $12 million more? I know it's tradition and all, but sometimes I'd rather have smooth streets to drive on the 364 days of the year this game isn't being played.

Rsf
Rsf

A game at the Cotton Bowl is a transcendant experience.  Potholes come and go..

Guest
Guest

If potholes did actually achieve the "go" part of that saying, then there'd probably be less complaining about how many potholes never get fixed.

Guest
Guest

To quote a former council member: nobody remembers the little things they do (so they don't do them).

(Speaking of streets, I drove out to Wylie the other day, and it's amazing that you can see the shiny, expensive new city hall while driving down a street that has more deep pockmarks on it than a teenage fry cook's face, Just shows where the priorities tend to be with officials in any city).

S Boyd
S Boyd

We should upgrade and maintain our EXISTING properties and facilities.  This is an appropriate use of tax dollars.  We are not giving it to some business to use exclusively.  Council did something very right in dedicating funds to the Cotton Bowl.  It's historic.

rc
rc

Mary Suhm said that we could afford it, wouldn't add to the deficit, and that it's all good, no problem here.Her words need to be put on a plaque and hung on the wall.

Guest
Guest

The American Airlines Center is paid off, right?

Were those taxes (2% hotel room tax and 5% car rental tax) dedicated to something else, or could the city put it to a vote to reup those taxes to help pay for a new or very, very renovated Cotton Bowl stadium?

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

I think the money was dedicated to the arts district. But I think it's since been re-dedicated elsewhere.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Until they actually commit hard currency to place an actual cover over the cotton bowl, this is just another futile example of Dallas doing its best to "piss in the wind"

MBM
MBM

No real football fan wants to watch a game inside in October.  Sack up, amateur.  Football is made to played outside, in the elements.

You can't just sink that amount of money into putting a roof, retractable or not, on that stadium. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Its not about "sacking" up.  The cotton bowl will never have the amenities of the Death Star, and for that no other major college matchup will play at the cotton bowl outside of the state fair, becasue you cant match what JerrysWorld has to offer.  Do you think major money boosters want to sit squeezed in the middle of the cotton bowl, or be sitting in their posh climate controlled full service suite across town. 

Old School
Old School

JerryWorld offers the ability to pay exorbitant prices to watch a football game inside a vacuous canyon. Do it once for the experience and then watch a game on top of the action at the refurbished Amon Carter, Apogee Stadium, Ford Stadium, the new Allen Stadium, or hell, even in a State Fair setting on a sunny autumn day.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

hey I dont disagree, European futbol clubs have had those roof designs for years. The problem truly is selling other games to other schools.  Why go to an older somewhat updated stadium when 19 miles down the road there is a brand new state of the art facility that truly is world class

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

It doesnt even need to be a "retractable covering, it could be similar to what you see w/ modern football pitches similar to FC Dallas Stadium..

Anon
Anon

Most adult fans I know appreciate college games at the Cotton Bowl, and these are people who have a suite at Jerry World. And if this is really just about maximizing revenue, let's re-visit the tax exempt status of the college teams. 

MBM
MBM

Thank you, City of Dallas.  If TX-OU is ever allowed to leave the Cotton Bowl I fear I might do something rash.  Keep improving that stajum little by little and eventually they'll be able to attract some bigger neutral site games. 

Unlike the TX/A&M situation, TX/OU are fully aware of the stakes involved and that no one wants to see a home and home or the game moved to the Death Star.  The state fair is one of the best parts of that weekend.

Stay hard Dallas.

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

Attract bigger neutral site games? That's a joke, right?

The Cotton Bowl would have a hard time competing with Pizza Hut Park for the D2 Championship game at this point.

Sam
Sam

Pizza Hut Park, where in the hell is that?

Rob Braun
Rob Braun

Frisco, now know as FC Dallas Stadium.  Located at Dallas North Tollway and Main ST.

Lucas
Lucas

Don't really know what you're talking about, do you?

With 92,000 seats, updated concourses and bathrooms, a giant new video screen, and more improvements on the way, the Cotton Bowl is unquestionably one of the greatest "historical" stadiums in the country.

Get over your provincial suburban hatred of Dallas.

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

What a meaningless point. The stats sound great, but what are they offering the City when it comes to actual entertainment/sports?

There are numerous sports stadiums worldwide that are currently more relevant as monuments than venues. The Cotton Bowl is making rapid progress towards joining that group.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

what does it say about the future of that site when the cotton bowl committee wouldnt even keep their game or their offices over there?

Sammy
Sammy

The Cotton Bowl Committee is no better than Benedict Arnold. We should sue to take that name from them since they rejected history and sullied the reputation of the game.

MBM
MBM

Touche.  But I think that was more about trying to get the bowl game in the BCS rotation.  They should have changed the name of the bowl game though.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Agreed. Rather than the Cotton Bowl, we can call it the Cotton Socks, Cotton Underwear or maybe Cotton Gin.

It's the fabric of our lives, after all.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Its okay that they want to renovate/upgrade, but to bold faced lie to the public on your presentation is a joke.  Any large event outside of TX/OU will go across town to JerrysWorld

Sam
Sam

Sorry most people do not want to drive to Arlington and pay $75 to park in a wasteland.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

I know. Dallas has to be one of the most scenic places on Earth. Arlington's landscape is so much different.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

And while I didn't get into this above, this definitely was part of both the city's pitch and the council's response: We've gotta build it to get more events. Soccer, more big-time college football, concerts, whatever.

RC
RC

I know you're kinda new but none of those things will happen. It's all BS.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

That's the council talking, not me. 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I think WHATEVER sums this up.But it fits nicely into the City of Dallas Culture of BUILD BUILD BUILD.The new City theater in the AT&T arts district is an good example of the same thing .

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