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Saturday, October 6, 2007
Cotton Bowl hopes to compete despite losing namesake game

Associated Press

DALLAS -- Officials with the State Fair of Texas are still talking to six major college football teams about matchups that could be played in the Cotton Bowl stadium during the annual October fair.

Texas and Oklahoma have been playing in the Cotton Bowl during the fair each year since 1929. Prairie View and Grambling State meet on another weekend.

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller had hoped to announce a third college game by the end of last year's fair. But, a year later, nothing has been finalized.

Errol McKoy, State Fair of Texas president, said negotiations continue with six teams, including Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor and LSU. He doesn't expect a third game to be played before 2009 at the earliest.

In addition to attracting another college game, officials are trying to bring soccer matches to the stadium.

"What we've learned is that it is very slow and tedious to work through all the scheduling of the different college conferences and the league play in Mexico," McKoy said. "It's taking a lot more time than anticipated."

A $50 million renovation is under way. McKoy believes it will help the Cotton Bowl compete for events with the new Dallas Cowboys stadium under construction in Arlington.

The namesake Cotton Bowl game, played on New Year's Day, is moving to Arlington in 2010. Notre Dame and Baylor plan a regular season game there in 2012.

"It's not the end of the world if Baylor-Notre Dame goes to the Cowboys' new facility," McKoy said. "We're not discouraged. We think we're going to be competitive."

The Texas-Oklahoma game will be played at the Cotton Bowl through 2015. Prairie View and Grambling State have been offered an extension through 2015.

McKoy said the move of the Cotton Bowl Classic to Arlington could allow an existing bowl game to relocate to Dallas. He said serious negotiations have been held with one bowl.

McKoy said talks are planned to try to bring in a soccer match featuring elite Mexican professional teams. He declined to identify the promoter, citing competitive reasons.

"We're holding out for bigger, powerful, better-known teams," McKoy said. "If we have the right combination, we can hit 60,000 or 70,000 in attendance."

A 2005 game attracted only about 13,900 people.

"People have underestimated what we're doing to the Cotton Bowl," McKoy said. "I think people will be amazed at how good the Cotton Bowl will look when we're done."