The Cotton Bowl is a large football (and soccer) stadium located in Dallas, Texas. The stadium lends its name to the NCAA college football bowl game which it hosts annually.

The Stadium
As Dallas prepared to host the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, it was decided to replace State Fair Stadium with a newer, more modern structure. The old stadium was only nine years old when it was torn down, but its all-wooden construction and limited seating (maximum capacity of 15,000) were liabilities. Construction began on the Cotton Bowl in 1930 at Fair Park, located in a residential neighborhood in south Dallas. Work on the new stadium came to a finish in 1937, with a capacity of 45,507 seats, and at a cost of $328,000.

The Cotton Bowl has played host to some of the greatest college football games ever played. In addition to hosting its bowl game namesake (see below), the stadium has spent the bulk of the last half-century as the home field for Dallas' Southern Methodist University (1948-78, 1995-2001). In the late 1940's, the SMU Mustangs were one of the strongest college football teams in the nation, always near the top of the Southwest Conference standings. The emergence of star quarterback/placekicker/punter Doak Walker forced the Mustangs out of Ownby Stadium and into the Cotton Bowl. In order to meet increased demand for tickets, available seating within the Cotton Bowl was increased in both 1948 and 1949, bringing it to its current level of 68,252 seats. This earned the stadium the moniker "The House that Doak Built". The Mustangs called the Cotton Bowl home until 1978, when they followed the Dallas Cowboys to Irving's Texas Stadium. The Mustangs (now a shadow of their former selves following vicious NCAA sanctions and demotion to the second-tier Western Athletic Conference) returned to the Cotton Bowl in 1995. There they played until 2001, when the team moved into its new on-campus facility, Gerald J Ford Stadium. (No, not that Gerald Ford.)

Since its completion, the Cotton Bowl also has played host to the Red River Shootout, the annual clash between football powerhouses and conference rivals the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The teams meet in Dallas every year (roughly halfway between Norman, OK and Austin during the middle of the Texas State Fair's run. In games played at the stadium, UT leads OU by a margin of 34-29-4. Lately, some efforts have half-heartedly been made to move the Shootout away from the Cotton Bowl in favor of a stadium with even more seating -- the Texas Motor Speedway, which can hold upwards of 110,000 fans and would allow Sooner fans to skip the drive through the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Although primarily a college football stadium, the Cotton Bowl has seen its share of professional football games, too. When the expansion Dallas Cowboys entered the NFL in 1960, the only NFL-calibre stadium in the DFW area was the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys weren't alone in the stadium, as they were forced to share the stadium with Dallas' fledgling AFL franchise, the Dallas Texans. The Texans didn't stick around long, departing for Kansas City (now competing as the Chiefs) following the AFL-NFL merger in 1962. The 'Boys played at the Cotton Bowl for a decade, before getting their own facility in Texas Stadium.

The Cowboys and the AFL Texans, however, were not the first professional teams to hang their cleats up at the Cotton Bowl. For one short and miserable season in 1952, an earlier incarnation of the Dallas Texans (previously known as the New York Yanks) played the part of NFL whipping boy. The team tallied a 1-11 season, promptly folding at its conclusion. The Cotton Bowl didn't even get the "honor" of hosting the Texans' final home game; with the team under league control, the NFL's head office decided to play the final game (against the Chicago Bears) in the football hotbed of Akron, Ohio.

The Cotton Bowl has a lesser-known (but equally-important) role as a soccer stadium. The stadium was the home of the NASL's Dallas Tornado, and hosted the Dallas Burn, an MLS franchise, until 2002. International soccer has been featured on the field as well, as several qualifying, opening round and quarter-finals matches for the 1994 World Cup were played within its confines. Prior to the World Cup matches, additional renovations were made to the stadium to accomodate the wider soccer field.

Architecturally, the Cotton Bowl is remarkable for its Southwestern-flavored art deco fascade, which has been painted both white and sand-colored. Most of the buildings from the 1936 expo survive, making Fair Park the largest collection of art deco exposition buildings in the world. The Cotton Bowl is widely thought of as having one of the best turf fields in the United States.

Mark Lemmon (original design)
George Dahl (1936 renovation)
Chappell, Stokes & Brenneke, engineers (1948 & 1949 additions)
Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (1993 addition)

The Game
Since 1937, the Cotton Bowl (stadium) has hosted one of the many annual college football bowl games played in late-December and early-January. Typically, the game has pitted a local team -- almost always a team representing the Southwest Conference (until 1995) or the Big 12 (1996-present) -- against one of the top-ranked independent and/or at-large schools on New Year's Day. During World War II, teams from local military bases occasionally were invited. The current arrangement pits the top Big 12 team (minus those who have qualified for the BCS) against the top Southeastern Conference (SEC) team (again, minus BCS qualifiers).

Lately, the Cotton Bowl has been known as the "SBC Cotton Bowl Classic", which certainly is better than the "Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl" or the "Continental Tire Bowl".

2002 Texas 35, Louisiana State 20       1969 Texas 36, Tennessee 13 
2001 Kansas State 35, Tennessee 21      1968 Texas A&M 20, Alabama 16 
2000 Arkansas 27, Texas 6               1967 Georgia 24, SMU 9
1999 Texas 38, Mississippi St. 11       1966 LSU 14, Arkansas 7
1998 UCLA 29, Texas A&M 23              1965 Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7 
1997 BYU 19, Kansas St. 15              1964 Texas 28, Navy 6 
1996 Colorado 38, Oregon 6              1963 LSU 13, Texas 0
1995 USC 55, Texas Tech 14              1962 Texas 12, Mississippi 7
1994 Notre Dame 24, Texas A&M 21        1961 Duke 7, Arkansas 6
1993 Notre Dame 28, Texas A&M 3         1960 Syracuse 23, Texas 14 
1992 Florida St. 10, Texas A&M 2        1959 Air Force 0, TCU 0
1991 Miami, Fla 46, Texas 3             1958 Navy 20, Rice 7
1990 Tennessee 31, Arkansas 27          1957 TCU 28, Syracuse 27 
1989 UCLA 17, Arkansas 3                1956 Mississippi 14, TCU 13 
1988 Texas A&M 35, Notre Dame 10        1955 Georgia Tech 14, Arkansas 6
1987 Ohio St. 28, Texas A&M 12          1954 Rice 28, Alabama 6
1986 Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16            1953 Texas 16, Tennessee 0 
1985 Boston College 45, Houston 28      1952 Kentucky 20, TCU 7 
1984 Georgia 10, Texas 9                1951 Tennessee 20, Texas 14 
1983 SMU 7, Pittsburgh 3                1950 Rice 27, North Carolina 13 
1982 Texas 14, Alabama 12               1949 SMU 21, Oregon 13 
1981 Alabama 30, Baylor 2               1948 Penn St. 13, SMU 13 
1980 Houston 17, Nebraska 14            1947 Arkansas 0, LSU 0
1979 Notre Dame 35, Houston 34          1946 Texas 40, Missouri 27 
1978 Notre Dame 38, Texas 10            1945 Oklahoma St. 34, TCU 0
1977 Houston 30, Maryland 21            1944 Randolph Field 7, Texas 7
1976 Arkansas 31, Georgia 10            1943 Texas 14, Georgia Tech 7 
1975 Penn St. 41, Baylor 20             1942 Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21 
1974 Nebraska 19, Texas 3               1941 Texas A&M 13, Fordham 12
1973 Texas 17, Alabama 13               1940 Clemson 6, Boston College 3
1972 Penn St. 30, Texas 6               1939 St. Marys, Cal. 20, Texas Tech 13 
1971 Notre Dame 24, Texas 11            1938 Rice 28, Colorado 14 
1970 Texas 21, Notre Dame 17            1937 TCU 16, Marquette 6

The History of the Red River Shootout! -
SMU Football: History, Decade by Decade -
Cotton Bowl History -
SBC Cotton Bowl -
Ballparks by Munsey & Suppes -
Dallas City Hall, Fair Park -

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