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The Future of the Cotton Bowl

DMN's Chuck Carlton has a very interesting article on the Cotton Bow and, possibly, it's eventual demise. I've only been to the Cotton Bow a couple of times in my lifetime despite living in the Dallas area. I've never thought of it as a destination and the Big 12 may start to lean in the same direction.

At a meeting with Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg and several Big 12 athletic directors, a small group of Cotton Bowl officials discovered that Houston was making a major pitch for their teams. The Cotton Bowl was guaranteed the first Big 12 selection and the second SEC pick after the Bowl Championship Series.

Houston offered a retractable roof, lavish amenities and revenue streams that allowed it to offer payouts of $1 million per team more than the Cotton Bowl each year.

Everything from the game experience to the climate control to the money favored the striking steel-and-glass construction. No longer would schools have to worry about cold or ice or cramped fan conditions in a stadium built during the Great Depression.

Naturally, and understandably, the decision is about money. But more than that, it's about guaranteed money. What's better, the promise cash in hand or a guaranteed payout? If I'm the Big 12, I would not want to deal with the school that doesn't get paid what's been contracted.

As far as non-monetary reasons, there's something to be said for nostalgia of the Cotton Bowl, but I would think that at some point the fans would take comfortable seats and air conditioning over the elements (we're all getting soft). That being said, I still think, although I'm admittedly biased, that Dallas is more of a destination city (that's gut feeling, but more than likely stemming that I haven't spent much time in Houston) than Houston.

Keith Whitmore has also weighed in on the subject.

However, I'm not convinced the Big 12 and SEC would have carried through on this threat. Not unless the Houston people could show they had $8 million in the bank to pay the participating teams. Besides the fact the city of Houston has yet to prove it can sustain a bowl game, the old Houston Bowl (now reorganized as the Texas Bowl) had trouble paying its bills. Houston had the hat - Reliant Stadium - but no cattle, i.e. no time-tested infrastructure or financing.

I'm thinking the Big 12 and SEC would still take the Cotton Bowl's guaranteed $3 million per team over the promise of $4 million from Houston. It was more of a warning sign than a real threat. Now that everyone seems so open in talking about it, the Houston threat helps the Cotton Bowl make a stronger P.R. case for moving to Arlington. ("Dang, Honey! We can't lose our bowl to Houston!")

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