Yesterday the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association announced that the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will move from its current location in Dallas Fair Park to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium currently under construction in Arlington. The move is scheduled to take place for the January 2, 2010 game, and the outcry from Dallas civic leaders is as loud as it is surprising.
I say surprising because anyone with an ounce of common sense knew that this move was coming. Dallas city government is completely inept when it comes to both attracting and keeping events and teams that will bring revenue and development to the city. If it were not for former Mayor Ron Kirk’s determination, as well as a sweet deal for the developers of American Airlines Arena, the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars would be playing in Frisco or Plano now instead of downtown Dallas.
The Cotton Bowl move was essentially sealed the day Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed the deal to build a new stadium in Arlington, leaving Texas Stadium after what will be a nearly 40 year stay in Irving. The new stadium will be, by all accounts, the finest, most state-of-the-art football stadium in the world. Given the choice between a new showplace stadium and the crumbling Cotton Bowl stadium, the decision was an easy one for the committee. The move ensures not only the survival of the game in a highly competitive bowl system, but may even allow it to move into the BCS Championship picture.
Some council members have lamented the loss of “history” that will come through this move. It is true that the game has been played in its current location for more than 70 years, but the council still had their heads in the sand. They must have overlooked the fact that neither the Sugar Bowl nor the Orange Bowl are now played in the original stadiums that bear those names. And every major professional sports team in the area has moved into a new stadium at least once since their founding here.
City leaders place the blame for the loss of the Cotton Bowl game squarely at the feet of Jerry Jones and his decision to move the Cowboys to Arlington rather than back to Dallas. This is ludicrous, and once again shows a city government in which no one takes responsibility for anything. Dallas had ample opportunity to present Jones with a deal that would have brought the new Cowboys and their stadium back, but the mayor, city council, and county commissioners all balked at the cost, believing Jones should have paid the entire bill himself. Arlington made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The result of the lack of vision on the part of the city’s “leaders” is that the Cowboys won’t be coming back, and the big events Dallas has taken for granted for so long will soon be gone. The annual Texas-OU game will most certainly leave, either to the new stadium or for an even more lucrative home-and-home format. Less people will attend the State Fair when this happens. And come January 2010 the old Cotton Bowl Stadium, site of so many classic games, will stand silent and empty in the cold, a fitting tombstone for a city whose leadership is dead on arrival.