Cotton Bowl (stadium)
"The House That Doak Built"
|Former names||Fair Park Stadium|
|Address||1300 Robert Cullum Blvd.|
|Owner||City of Dallas|
(1930–1969, since 1994)
|Opened||1930, 92 years ago|
|Renovated||1936, 1968, 1993, 2008|
|Expanded||1948–1949, 1993, 2008|
($5.32 million in 2021)
|Architect||Mark Lemmon, 1930|
George Dahl, 1936
Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, 1993
|Structural engineer||Chappell, Stokes & Brenneke, 1948-1949|
Dallas Burn/FC Dallas (MLS)
The Cotton Bowl
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|Part of||Texas Centennial Exposition Buildings (1936-1937) (ID86003488)|
|DLMKHD No.||H/33 (Fair Park)|
|Designated CP||September 24, 1986|
|Designated TSAL||January 1, 1984|
|Designated DLMKHD||March 4, 1987|
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 73 editions of the game, through January 2009; the game was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington in January 2010. The stadium also hosts the Red River Showdown, the annual college football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns, and the First Responder Bowl.
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; 1960–1962), and soccer teams, the Dallas Tornado (NASL; 1967–1968), and FC Dallas (MLS; as the Dallas Burn 1996–2004, as FC Dallas 2005). It was also one of the nine venues used for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. As of 2022, it is the largest stadium by capacity in the United States without a professional or college team as a regular tenant.
In their seventh season, the Cowboys hosted the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship at the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1967. 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. The two games were filled to its 75,504 capacity, but both home teams lost to the visitors.
Construction began on Fair Park Stadium in 1930 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. The original stadium–the lower half of the current facility–was built for a cost of $328,000 and seated 45,507 spectators. The name was officially changed to the Cotton Bowl in 1936.
In 1948, a second deck was added to the west side, increasing capacity to 67,000. The east side was double-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. 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 $50 million renovation, with $30 million of this amount from a city bond. 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. The 2008 Red River Showdown was held on October 11.
The 2008 renovations include the expansion of the seating capacity of the stadium from 68,252 to 92,100, 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 Texas vs. Oklahoma football game.
The renovation was also intended to increase the chances of the Cotton Bowl Classic becoming a part of the Bowl Championship Series. However, the renovation was not enough to prevent the Cotton Bowl Classic from moving out of its namesake stadium after the 2009 game. Dallas' occasionally cold January weather had been a longstanding concern for the game, and was believed to have precluded any prospect of adding it to the BCS even after the expansion. (The Cotton Bowl Classic would eventually be added to the "New Year's Six" College Football Playoff bowls after the game moved to what is now AT&T Stadium.) 
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
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. 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 Texans (NFL)
The first professional football team in Texas was the Dallas Texans of the National Football League in 1952. Plagued by financial hardship and poor play, the Texans lasted only one season. The team played four games in the Cotton Bowl before going bankrupt, being taken over by the league, and finishing the season as a traveling team based in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The Dallas Cowboys called the Cotton Bowl home for 12 seasons, from the team's formation in 1960 until 1971. The 1966 NFL Championship Game between the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers was played in the Cotton Bowl. After playing their first two home games in 1971 at the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys opened Texas Stadium in Irving on October 24.
Dallas Texans (AFL)
The Dallas Texans of the American Football League used the stadium all three of their seasons in Dallas (1960-1962), sharing it with the NFL Cowboys. Following the Texans’ 1962 AFL Championship season, owner Lamar Hunt moved the franchise to Kansas City, Missouri and renamed it the Chiefs.
First Responder Bowl
Since January 2011, the Cotton Bowl has been the home of the First Responder 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 first title sponsor. The game was called the "TicketCity Bowl" for the first two match ups. On October 4, 2012, the name changed again to the "Heart of Dallas Bowl" for eight seasons before changing to the "First Responder Bowl" for the 2018 season. In 2019 the game was temporarily relocated to Gerald J. Ford Stadium at Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas, to accommodate the 2020 NHL Winter Classic.
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
The annual college football game between the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners, 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. Following the 2021 game, the Longhorns have a record of 62-50-5 against the Sooners.
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 onward. They gradually moved more of their home games there during the 1930s and 1940s, as it was double the size of their on-campus stadium, Ownby Stadium. The Mustangs 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 due to numerous recruiting violations, and spent the first six years after their return at Ownby Stadium. Games moved back to campus in 2000 with the completion of Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
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. 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. The State Fair Classic is currently the largest FCS football game in Texas.
Texas State Fair Classic Showdown
In 2016, the Texas State Fair in conjunction with the City of Dallas announced an expansion of games played during the state fair for 2018 and 2019. Following the Red River Rivalry weekend, the Texas Southern University Tigers played against the Southern University Jaguars. The game was on a neutral site for both teams, Texas Southern University is centrally located in Houston and Southern University is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (South Louisiana). The two schools are long-time SWAC rivals and have nationally recognized marching bands.
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. In 2011 and 2012, it played host to the North Texas Football Classic to kick off those seasons.
Blondes vs. Brunettes powderpuff football games are played in cities across the United States. 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. 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.
1994 FIFA World Cup
|Date||Time (UTC−6)||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round||Attendance|
|1994-06-17||18:30||Spain||2–2||South Korea||Group C||56,247|
|1994-06-28||15:00||Germany||3–2||South Korea||Group C||63,998|
|1994-07-03||12:00||Saudi Arabia||1–3||Sweden||Round of 16||60,277|
2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup
|Date||Time (UTC−5)||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round||Attendance|
|14 July 2021||20:30||Guatemala||0–3||Mexico||Group A||15,391|
|18 July 2021||21:00||Mexico||1–0||El Salvador||45,792|
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. It also hosted 6 matches of the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Other international matches
|Date||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Attendance|
|September 8, 1974||Mexico||1–0||United States||22,164|
|July 10, 1993||Jamaica||0–1||United States||11,642|
|July 14, 1993||Panama||1–2||United States||13,771|
|July 17, 1993||Honduras||0–1||United States||16,348|
|July 21, 1993||Costa Rica||0–1||United States||14,826|
|March 26, 1994||Bolivia||2–2||United States||26,835|
|March 25, 1995||Uruguay||2–2||United States||12,242|
|April 28, 2004||Mexico||0–1||United States||45,048|
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.
The Dallas Burn of MLS (rebranded as FC Dallas in 2005) called the Cotton Bowl home for its first seven seasons, between 1996 and 2002, as well as for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, before opening its own stadium in Frisco.
NHL Winter Classic
The 2020 NHL Winter Classic was held at the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 2020. The game was hosted by the Dallas Stars against the Nashville Predators; the Dallas Stars won. It was the first Winter Classic appearance for both teams. It also marked the first outdoor NHL game to be hosted in a southern state. The Stars defeated the Predators in a 4-2 comeback victory. Recorded attendance was 85,630, the second highest ever for an NHL game.
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. For crowd control purposes, ticket sales for any future Cotton Bowl General Admission floor seating was limited, and Jams following the 1978 Jam, never reached 80,000 for that reason. 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. U2 played here during the first leg of the Popmart Tour
The Rolling Stones have played 7 shows at the Cotton Bowl July 6th 1975, October 31 1981, November 1 1981, November 10 1989, November 11 1989, November 18 1994 and November 2 2021.
|Date||Artist||Opening act(s)||Tour / Concert name||Attendance||Revenue||Notes|
|October 11, 1956||Elvis||27,000+|
|July 6, 1975||Rolling Stones|
|October 31, 1981 November 1 1981||Rolling Stones|
|November 10 and 11 1989||Rolling Stones|
|November 18, 1994||Rolling Stones|
|November 2, 2021||Rolling Stones||Juanes|
|May 6, 2022||Coldplay||H.E.R.||Music of the Spheres World Tour|
In popular culture
- Football game scenes from the 1977 film Semi-Tough were filmed in the Cotton Bowl.
- The stadium was featured in a 1981 episode of Dallas where J. R. Ewing meets Dusty Farlow.
- In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, two young men are on their way to the Cotton Bowl when they are killed.
- The rock band Journey recorded two videos in the 1980s in the Cotton Bowl.
- The daytime scenes from the video "I Won't Forget You" by the rock band Poison were recorded during the 1987 Texxas Jam on June 20, 1987 in front of over 80,000 people.
- The rock band Rush played their first concert in the Cotton Bowl in 1979 at Texxas Jam, and again in 1984.
- The 2009 television reality series 4th and Long filmed the majority of its material at the Cotton Bowl.
- In the 1984 Emmy Award-winning made-for-TV film The Jesse Owens Story, made by Paramount Pictures, the Cotton Bowl was used as the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the 1936 Olympics. A local flag maker had to make large Nazi flags and banners to cover up Cotton Bowl emblems and other Texas State Fair items to give the impression that the film took place in Berlin, Germany in 1936.
- In 2010, a commercial for McDonald's was filmed at the Cotton Bowl. The commercial featured Donald Driver, wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
- A 2010 episode of The Good Guys, entitled "Dan on the Run," culminated at the Cotton Bowl.
- The WCCW Cotton Bowl Extravaganza was an annual professional wrestling supercard promoted by Fritz Von Erich's World Class Championship Wrestling / World Class Wrestling Association. It was held in October every year from 1984 through 1988.
- The stadium was the location of the Texas High School State Championship game with the East Dillon Lions in the series finale of Friday Night Lights.
- "Baseball in the Lone Star State: Texas League's Greatest Hits", Tom Kayser and David King, Trinity University Press 2005
- "Storied Stadiums: Baseball History Through Its Ballparks", Curt Smith, c.2001
- "Welcome to the City of Dallas, Texas - Fair Park, Tx. One fun thing leads to another". City of Dallas. June 2, 2001. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
- "College Football–State Fair of Texas". State Fair of Texas. October 10, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
- "Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns – Recap – October 17, 2009". ESPN. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
- "Ordinance No. 27079" (PDF). City of Dallas. 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- Weller, Robert (September 28, 1998). "His college's only Heisman winner; played for Detroit Lions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. A14.
- Johnson, Chuck (January 1, 1967). "Today's the day – Packers vs. Dallas". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, sports.
- Lea, Bud (January 2, 1967). "Packers tip Dallas for title, 34-27". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
- "Georgia grinds out 24-9 Cotton victory". Milwaukee Journal. January 1, 1967. p. 1, sports.
- "Stadium – AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic". Attcottonbowl.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- Levinthal, Dave (2005-08-20). "Miller determined to keep Texas-OU game". Dallas Morning News.
- "City of Dallas 2006 Bond Program". City of Dallas. 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- "Texas-OU game to stay in Cotton Bowl through 2015". ESPN. Associated Press. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
- "Cotton Bowl reportedly hoping to join BCS party in 2011". ESPN.com. 29 December 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Baby, Ben (May 23, 2019). "Conflict with Winter Classic forces First Responder Bowl to move from Cotton Bowl to SMU's Ford Stadium". dallasnews.com. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
- "Red River Showdown". Red River Showdown.
- Johnson, Luke (October 8, 2016). "'This is a major deal' Southern to play Texas Southern in 2018-19 Texas State Fair Football Showdown". The Advocate. Baton Rouge.
- 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.
- Blondes vs. Brunettes Powderpuff Fundraiser
- "Blondes vs. Brunettes: Grassroots Effort Scores for Alzheimer's Association". The NonProfit Times. Morris Plains, New Jersey. September 15, 2010. p. 7. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- Pressley, Ty (August 3, 2012). "Blondes vs. Brunettes for Charity – Cotton Bowl to Host Blondes vs. Brunettes Football Game on Aug. 11". KXAS-TV News. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
- "Roma vs. Real Madrid: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction from 2014 ICC".
- Relations, NHL Public (2019-01-25). "Matchup Confirmed: The @DallasStars will face the @PredsNHL outdoors at Cotton Bowl Stadium on New Year's Day in the 2020 Bridgestone NHL #WinterClassic.pic.twitter.com/EWsSgAJQ8o". @PR_NHL. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
- Minton, Chad (26 December 2019). "Nashville Predators: Everything You Should Know About 2020 Winter Classic". Retrieved 2020-01-01.
- "Stars rally to beat Predators in Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl". Sportsnet. Associated Press. January 1, 2020.
- Sun, Rebecca (March 26, 2020). "BTS Postpones North American Tour Amid Coronavirus Crisis". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
- "2022 GLOBAL STADIUM TOUR UPCOMING DATES". redhotchilipeppers.com. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
|Events and tenants|
| Home of the Dallas Cowboys
1960 – October 11, 1971
| Home of the Dallas Texans
1960 – 1962
| Home of the Dallas Burn
1996 – 2002
2004 – 2005
| Home of the Cotton Bowl Classic
1937 – 2009
|Preceded by|| Host of the Drum Corps International
|Preceded by|| Host of the NHL Winter Classic