The Land Of Cotton Is All But Forgotten
Texas/ou weekend is an experience that the English language cannot fully express. Once you enter the State Fair grounds, you are transported into 80 years of football history. The scent of cotton candy faintly engulfs the air as you wade through the crowd to the nearest ticket booth. The Texas Star revs up its motor as a local band serenades the crowd with music that makes you proud to be a Texan. When the Star Spangled Banner is belted out, you catch yourself taken aback with the clear division of burnt orange and crimson in the stands. After the final whistle blows, there is a family atmosphere in victory and a common bond in defeat. This is a place where adults can be young again and children can learn that a corn dog is an acceptable breakfast food.
But, in the age of technology, the Cotton Bowl has fallen behind. For years, renovations have been promised and never delivered. The stadium is old and very worn down. The seats are very small and uncomfortable. The toilets are a hazard to passersby on the lower levels. The seating capacity rivals some Texas high school stadiums denying entrance to even the most loyal faithful. The neighborhood gives you a worrisome feeling as you spend the entire day wondering if the owner of the house where you parked is truly earning his keep by watching your shiny new SUV. For decades the City of Dallas has made politician promises to Texas and Oklahoma with a sly wink knowing that the presence of tradition would far outweigh any of their failures to deliver.
So, what should we do?
I am against ever making the series a home and home affair for several reasons. At the top of the list is that it takes away from the uniqueness of meeting on a neutral field to decide what state has control of the Red River. While each school will have their turn with attendance, an away game only provides 4,000 seats for the other diminishing the ability to annually witness the game in person. Going to a city that breathes their team and hates yours with a passion also begs the question of personal safety. Having visited both cities, I can state that Norman clearly suffers in the "things to eat, see and do" factor.
As a Texas alumnus, and a diehard fan, I advocate a move to the new Cowboy's stadium.
One of the biggest advantages is the seating capacity. By moving the game further down I-30, you are allowing 20,000 more fans to witness the greatest rivalry in America. This translates into $17,000,000 more in revenue on ticket costs alone. The stadium can mirror the 50/50 division of the Cotton Bowl while providing a neutral field for the teams to play on. While you cannot fully capture the Fair experience, there is no reason why the Fair vendors could not be contracted to have a temporary home in the midst of the tailgating venue. This also does not preclude purists from visiting the State Fair the day before or after the game. As is true with the State Fair, the stadium would be on the train route allowing people to eliminate the high cost of parking and time spent in traffic. The addition of big screen scoreboards both in and out of the stadium are a very attractive feature. Unlike the Cotton Bowl, a person could experience the uniqueness of the weekend and have a viable option of watching the game outside the stadium. The comfort and amenities alone makes the shift a more attractive option. If the stadium is not utilized for the Red River Shootout, it will be pounced on by another school waiting in the wings. (Do we really want to give Texas a&m or Tech more of a recruiting presence?) Most importantly, Texas and Oklahoma could take away something that the City of Dallas has taken for granite for far too long.
It pains me to say it, but the schools would be crazy not to jump at the chance to move the wagons West. If I must turn in my diploma for saying so...so be it.