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Football

The Red River Rivalry Is Staying in Dallas

A new deal will keep the 119-year-old game in the Cotton Bowl through 2036. A series of renovations to the stadium probably had a lot to do with it.
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We've got many more years of this to come in the Cotton Bowl. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week, I wrote about the Dallas Open moving to Frisco in 2025 and the not-so-great message it sends about Mayor Eric Johnson’s Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention, which, as expected, has done minimal amounts of the former and the latter since its establishment in May 2022.

Today, however, brings better sports news in Dallas, albeit on the college front: the Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma will stay at the Cotton Bowl through 2036.

The deal is an extension of the current agreement that was set to run through 2025, and almost certainly coincides with a planned $140 million worth of upgrades to the 93-year-old stadium. Which, great! One can bemoan the perverse incentives cities and suburbs alike offer sports entities, often at the expense of their own taxpayers, but this is an example of how competition can incentivize municipalities to do better, too.

It stands to reason that Arlington, in particular, would have had plenty of interest in parking the 119-year-old game in AT&T Stadium after already pillaging the Big XII title game and the eponymous Cotton Bowl game sometime ago, which would have pulled an estimated $51 million or so in annual revenue out of Dallas and into the suburbs. Instead, Dallas and Fair Park officials kept the game by putting the work—and the money—into renovating a historic building. This will, in turn, make the Cotton Bowl more attractive for other events, which per the Morning News has increased three-fold since Fair Park First and Oak View Group360 began managing Fair Park at the start of 2019.

Hard not to be happy about that, even if this game probably should still be happening in the Big XII instead of just another alignment in college football’s ongoing hellish realignment.

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Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…
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