Cotton Bowl (stadium)

Cotton Bowl Stadium
"The House That Doak Built"
Former names Fair Park Stadium
Address 1300 Robert B. Cullum Boulevard
Location Dallas, Texas
Coordinates 32°46′47″N 96°45′35″W / 32.77972°N 96.75972°W / 32.77972; -96.75972Coordinates: 32°46′47″N 96°45′35″W / 32.77972°N 96.75972°W / 32.77972; -96.75972
Owner City of Dallas
Operator City of Dallas
Capacity 92,100[1]
Record attendance 96,009[2]
Surface Natural grass (1994–present)
AstroTurf (1970–1993)
Natural grass (1930–1969)
Broke ground 1930[3]
Opened 1930, 86 years ago
Renovated 1968, 1994, 2008
Expanded 1948, 1949, 1994, 2008
Construction cost US$328,200
($4.66 million in 2016 dollars[4])
SMU Mustangs (NCAA) (1932–1978, 1995–1999)
Cotton Bowl Classic (NCAA) (1937–2009)
Dallas Texans (NFL) (1952)
Dallas Texans (AFL) (1960–1962)
Dallas Cowboys (NFL) (1960–1971)
Dallas Tornado (NASL) (1967–1968)
Dallas Burn/FC Dallas (MLS) (1996–2002, 2004–2005)
Dallas Desire (LFL) (2010)
Heart of Dallas Bowl (NCAA) (2011–present)

Cotton Bowl Stadium is an outdoor stadium in the south central United States, located in Dallas. Opened 86 years ago in 1930 as Fair Park Stadium, it is located in Fair Park, site of the State Fair of Texas. Concerts or other events using a stage allow the playing field to be used for additional spectators.

The Cotton Bowl was the longtime home of the annual college football post-season bowl game known as the Cotton Bowl Classic, for which the stadium is named. Starting on New Year's Day 1937, it hosted the first 63 editions of the game, through January 2009; the game was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington in January 2010.

The stadium has been home to many football teams over the years, including: SMU Mustangs (NCAA), Dallas Cowboys (NFL; 1960–1971), Dallas Texans (NFL) (1952), Dallas Texans (AFL; 19601962), and soccer teams, the Dallas Tornado (NASL; 19671968), and FC Dallas (the Dallas Burn before 2005) (Major League Soccer; 19962002, 20042005). It was also one of the nine venues used for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

It became known as "The House That Doak Built", due to the immense crowds that SMU running back Doak Walker drew to the stadium during his college career in the late 1940s.[5]

In their seventh season, the Cowboys hosted the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship at the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1967.[6][7] The college bowl game that year included SMU and was played the day before, New Year's Eve, which required a quick turnaround to transform the field.[8] The two games were filled to the 75,504 capacity, but both local teams came up short.

Artificial turf was installed in 1970 and removed in 1993 in preparation for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The elevation of the playing field is approximately 450 feet (140 m) above sea level.


Construction began on Fair Park Stadium in 1930 in Fair Park, Dallas on the same site as the wooden football stadium before known as Fair Park Stadium. Completed that year, the first game in the stadium was between Dallas-area high schools in October 1930. Built for a cost of US$328,000, the stadium held 45,507 spectators. In 1936, the name officially changed to the Cotton Bowl.

In 1948, the stadium was decked on the west side, increasing capacity to 67,000. The east side was decked the following year, increasing capacity to 75,504. These decks were added to respond to the demand for fans to watch SMU halfback Doak Walker, leading the Cotton Bowl to be known as "the house that Doak built." The superstructure was also built at this time, creating the distinctive facade for the stadium. In 1968, chair-backs were installed, reducing capacity to 72,032. In 1970, the Cotton Bowl installed an AstroTurf surface, which remained until 1993.

In 1950, as a way to break the Texas League record for opening-day attendance, Richard Burnett got permission to play in the Cotton Bowl, which at the time could hold as many as 75,000. In order to draw a big crowd, he wanted a lineup of former stars to don Dallas Eagles uniforms and face one Tulsa hitter in the top of the first inning. Most of the retired stars were cool to the idea, except for then-current Dallas Eagles manager Charlie Grimm. When the legendary Ty Cobb agreed to come to Dallas, the others followed his lead. Preceding the game was a parade through downtown Dallas. "It was the pre-game show that got 'em", bellowed Dizzy Dean by way of self-congratulation. "Cobb, Cochrane, Home Run Baker, Speaker, and Ol' Diz in Dallas duds." The 54,151 who showed up were lucky enough to see Ty Cobb hit several balls into the stands, just to show he could still handle the bat. The Kilgore College Rangerettes drill team performed on the field prior to the game. Texas governor Allan Shivers threw out the first pitch. Defensively, the old-timer lineup of the Eagles were: Duffy Lewis in left field, Cobb in center field, Texas native Tris Speaker in right field, Frank "Home Run" Baker at third base, Travis Jackson at shortstop, Charlie Gehringer at second base, manager Grimm at first base, Mickey Cochrane at catcher, and former Houston Buffaloes star pitcher Dizzy Dean on the mound. Dean walked the leadoff batter for Tulsa, Harry Donabedian, on a 3-2 count, and then the regular Dallas players took the field. Dean got into an orchestrated rhubarb and was tossed from the game. The attendance figure still stands as the largest in Texas League history and second largest in the history of the minor leagues.

The Cotton Bowl hosted six matches of the 1994 World Cup. To meet FIFA requirements for these games the stadium field was widened, the press box was enlarged and natural grass was re-installed. The playing surface has remained natural grass ever since. Capacity was decreased to 71,615 in 1994 and to 68,252 in 1996.[9] The Stadium also Hosted the Gold Cup Soccer Matches in 1993.

In the 2000s (decade), the renewed dominance of both the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns created a new interest in their rivalry, and the stadium. Temporary stands were erected in each end zone to increase seating for these games from just over 68,000 to 90,000.

In November 2006, the city of Dallas and the State Fair of Texas finally agreed on funding for a long-planned[10] $50 million renovation, with $30 million of this amount from a city bond.[11] Thus, in April 2007, the schools signed a contract to play at the Cotton Bowl through 2015, coupled with a $57 million fund for upgrades and improvements to the aging stadium.[12] The 2008 game was held on October 11.

The 2008 renovations include the expansion of the seating capacity of the stadium from 68,252 to 92,100,[1] mostly through the complete encircling of the second deck, new media and VIP facilities, a new scoreboard and video screen, updated restrooms and concession areas, lighting, utility and sound upgrades and the replacement of all the stadium's seats. A new record for attendance was set when 96,009 fans attended the 2009 Oklahoma vs. Texas football game.

Stadium usage

The Cotton Bowl has been used by a number of teams in several sports throughout its history, and has hosted three collegiate bowl games. The Cotton Bowl has also hosted large music concerts, including the inaugural Texxas Jam and other similar events.


Cotton Bowl Classic

Main article: Cotton Bowl Classic
Panoramic view of the 2008 Cotton Bowl Classic between Missouri and Arkansas

From 1937 to 2009, the Cotton Bowl hosted the Cotton Bowl Classic, an annual NCAA Division I bowl game. Beginning in 2010, the bowl game has been played at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas. From 1941 to 1994, the Southwest Conference champion would play in the bowl game; since 1997, the first postseason of the Big 12 Conference, its second-place team has competed against an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Dallas Cowboys

Main article: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys also called the Cotton Bowl home for 12 seasons, from the team's formation in 1960 until 1971. After playing their first two home games in 1971 at the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys opened Texas Stadium in Irving on October 24.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Main article: Heart of Dallas Bowl

Since January 2011, the Cotton Bowl has been the home of the Heart of Dallas Bowl, an annual college football bowl game. The game was tentatively named the "Dallas Football Classic" prior to TicketCity being announced as the bowl game's title sponsor. The game was called the "TicketCity Bowl" for the first two match ups. On October 4, 2012, the name changed again to its current incarnation. The game has had bowl tie-ins with the Big 12 Conference in 2011, Conference USA in 2012, and the Big Ten Conference in both 2011 and 2012. The inaugural game saw the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeat the Northwestern Wildcats, 45–38.

Red River Rivalry

Main article: Red River Showdown

The annual college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns, also known before 2005 as the Red River Shootout, is played at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas, instead of on either school's campus. Ticket sales are equally divided between the two schools, and the fans are split on the 50-yard line. The Longhorns have a record of 61-44-5 against the Sooners.

SMU Mustangs

Main article: SMU Mustangs football

The Cotton Bowl served as the home for the SMU Mustangs football team for two periods in the program's history. SMU played at least a few games at the Cotton Bowl from 1932 to 1947, and moved there permanently in 1948 due to Doak Walker's popularity. The Mustangs played at the Cotton Bowl until 1978, when they moved to Texas Stadium. The Cotton Bowl also served as home to SMU in the 1990s, after the team served the NCAA death penalty and played at Ownby Stadium on campus. Games moved back to campus in 2000 with the completion of Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

State Fair Classic

Main article: State Fair Classic

In addition to the Red River Rivalry, the Grambling State University Tigers and the Prairie View A&M University Panthers play each other at the Cotton Bowl in the State Fair Classic. This game often occurs the weekend before the Texas-OU Red River Rivalry game. It is a neutral site for both teams; Grambling State is located in northern Louisiana and Prairie View A&M is located about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Houston, Texas. The halftime show, the "Battle of the Bands", is arguably more eagerly anticipated than the game itself. The State Fair Classic is heavily marketed in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex, with local hip hop stations encouraging a large turnout among the region's African-American community.

Texas High School Football

The Cotton Bowl has a long history of hosting Texas high school football games. From the early days of the stadium, it was used for playoff and championship games. In 1945 and 1967, the stadium hosted two of the largest audiences to ever see a Texas high school football game.[13] In 2011 and 2012, it played host to the North Texas Football Classic to kick off those seasons.

Powderpuff Football

Blondes vs. Brunettes powderpuff football games are played in cities across the United States.[14] Proceeds from the event are donated to The Alzheimer's Association. The annual contests were started by Sara Allen Abbott whose father, Texas State Representative Joseph Hugh Allen, died of Alzheimer's disease in 2008. Looking for a way to raise funds for The Alzheimer's Association, Abbott organized a powderpuff football game in tribute to her father, a lifelong football fan.[15] The games are currently played in over 20 cities throughout the United States. The increasing popularity of the game in the Dallas area resulted in moving the 2012 game to the Cotton Bowl where it could accommodate a larger crowd.[16]

Soccer (Association Football)

On July 29, 2014, the Cotton Bowl hosted a soccer match between Real Madrid and A.S. Roma which was part of the 2014 International Champions Cup and AS Roma won the match 1-0.[17]

Dallas Tornado

Early in their existence, the Dallas Tornado played two seasons of professional soccer in the Cotton Bowl. They spent their inaugural year, 1967, as a franchise of the United Soccer Association and 1968 as members of the North American Soccer League, in the Cotton Bowl before moving first to P.C. Cobb Stadium, and then on to other venues. The Tornado played for 15 years and used a total of six different Dallas-area stadiums before finally folding after the 1981 season.

1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup matches

Only games in Group B, other semifinal, third place match and Final were played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Spectators
July 10, 1993 Honduras5–1 PanamaGroup A11,642
 United States1-0 Jamaica
July 14, 1993 Jamaica3–1 Honduras13,771
 United States2-1 Panama
July 17, 1993 Jamaica1–1 Panama18,527
 United States1-0 Honduras
July 22, 1993 United States1–0 a.e.t. Costa RicaSemifinals14,826

1994 FIFA World Cup

The Cotton Bowl was one of the venues of 1994 FIFA World Cup

1994 FIFA World Cup matches

Date Time (CDT) Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Spectators
June 17, 199416:30 Spain2–2 South KoreaGroup C56,247
June 21, 199418:30 Nigeria3–0 BulgariaGroup D44,132
June 27, 199415:00 Germany3–2 South KoreaGroup C63,998
June 30, 199418:30 Argentina0–2 BulgariaGroup D63,998
July 3, 199412:00 Saudi Arabia1–3 SwedenRound of 1660,277
July 9, 199414:30 Netherlands2–3 BrazilQuarterfinals63,500

Dallas Burn

Main article: FC Dallas

FC Dallas of MLS (formerly known as the Dallas Burn) called the Cotton Bowl home for its first 7 seasons, between 1996 and 2002, as well as for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, before opening their own stadium, Pizza Hut Park, in Frisco.



The stadium has also been a venue for a number of historic concerts, most notably that which featured then 21-year-old Elvis Presley, which took place on October 11, 1956 and attracted what was then the largest audience in Texas history for an outdoor concert, in excess of 27,000.

Many consecutive summers of huge concerts, featuring several artists, began in July 1978, with the 1st annual Texxas Jam, which sold out with over 80,000 attendees. Each Texxas Jam had a unique lineup of major artists chosen by the promoter. Over the years, the Texxas Jam featured some of the top-billed headliner artists of the day, including Aerosmith, Heart, Deep Purple, Boston, Journey, Ted Nugent, Scorpions, Loverboy, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Blue Öyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, Nazareth, Styx, Foghat, Santana, The Eagles & Triumph, among others.

The annual events came to an end in the summer of 1988, when Van Halen headlined the "Monsters Of Rock" Tour.

Since then, the stadium has continued to be used as a major concert venue; Eric Clapton notably held his first massive 3-day Crossroads Guitar Festival there in 2004.

Drum Corps

The Cotton Bowl was also the site for the 1991 Drum Corps International World Championships.



  1. 1 2 "College FootballState Fair of Texas". State Fair of Texas. October 10, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  2. "Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns – Recap – October 17, 2009". ESPN. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. "Welcome to the City of Dallas, Texas - Fair Park, Tx. One fun thing leads to another". City of Dallas, Texas. June 2, 2001. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  4. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  5. Weller, Robert (September 28, 1998). "His college's only Heisman winner; played for Detroit Lions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. A14.
  6. Johnson, Chuck (January 1, 1967). "Today's the day – Packers vs. Dallas". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, sports.
  7. Lea, Bud (January 2, 1967). "Packers tip Dallas for title, 34-27". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  8. "Georgia grinds out 24-9 Cotton victory". Milwaukee Journal. January 1, 1967. p. 1, sports.
  9. "Stadium – AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  10. Levinthal, Dave (2005-08-20). "Miller determined to keep Texas-OU game". Dallas Morning News.
  11. Dallas, City of (2006). "City of Dallas 2006 Bond Program". Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  12. "Texas-OU game to stay in Cotton Bowl through 2015". ESPN. Associated Press. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  13. Doelle, Chris. "Texas High School Football All-Time Highest Attendance". Lone Star Gridiron. Archived from the original on June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  14. Blondes vs. Brunettes Powderpuff Fundraiser
  15. The Non-Profit Times: "Blondes vs. Brunettes: Grassroots Effort Scores for Alzheimer's Association" September 15, 2010, page 7. Retrieved March 16, 2012 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  16. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth Channel 5 "Blondes vs. Brunettes for Charity – Cotton Bowl to Host Blondes vs. Brunettes Football Game on Aug. 11" Retrieved October 6, 2012
  17. Totti lifts Roma past Madrid July 30, 2014 Retrieved July 30, 2014
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cotton Bowl.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the Dallas Cowboys
1960 October 11, 1971
Succeeded by
Texas Stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the Dallas Texans
1960 1962
Succeeded by
Municipal Stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Dragon Stadium
Home of the Dallas Burn
1996 2002
2004 2005
Succeeded by
Dragon Stadium
Pizza Hut Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the Cotton Bowl Classic
1937 2009
Succeeded by
Cowboys Stadium
Preceded by
Rich Stadium
Host of the Drum Corps International
World Championship

Succeeded by
Camp Randall Stadium
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