Cotton Bowl revamp plans move forward


Cotton Bowl stadium renovation Image: Overland Partners

One of the greatest match-ups in North American sports will continue to be played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium after Oklahoma University and the University of Texas agreed a deal to keep the game at the iconic venue through 2036.

Dallas Innovates said that as part of the deal, the stadium in will undergo $140 million in renovations. The teams have been playing each other at the Cotton Bowl since 1929.

The Cotton Bowl is an outdoor stadium in Dallas, Texas, United States. Opened as Fair Park Stadium, it is on the site of the State Fair of Texas, known as Fair Park.

Improvements to Cotton Bowl Stadium include widening concourses and adding escalators, increasing fans’ comfort level while entering and exiting the stadium. This will also include renovations to concessions and restrooms, plus increasing the number of hospitality areas and premium environments, which will enhance the speed of service for fans during events.

Cotton Bowl stadium renovationImage: Overland Partners

The first phase of renovations to the west side of the stadium is to be completed by September 2026. The city is also scheduled to finish a second phase of significant renovations to the east side of the stadium by September 2034.

Last year, Dallas voters approved $300 million in improvements to Fair Park, including $140 million slated for renovations to the Cotton Bowl.

UT Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said in a statement, “There’s absolutely nothing like the Allstate Red River Rivalry game, and with all of its history, tradition and pageantry, it needs to stay in the Cotton Bowl. So many memories have been made by generations of fans at the iconic stadium surrounded by the spectacle that is the State Fair of Texas, and we’re excited to be continuing that long into the future.”

Overland Partners has been hired to lead the design work on the Cotton Bowl renovations, working with McAfee3, Modus, and Norman Alston to restore and renovate the venue in collaboration with Fair Park First, Dallas Parks and Recreation, Visit Dallas, OVG360, and AECOM.

The two-year project aims to infuse “new vitality” into the iconic venue while creating “indelible fan experiences.”

Cotton Bowl stadium renovationImage: Overland Partners

OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione said, “The relationship between the storied Allstate Red River Rivalry and the venerable Cotton Bowl is one-of-kind regardless of sport.

“Our new agreement guarantees this historic legacy of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at the State Fair of Texas will stretch into a second century. Millions of fans throughout the years have cheered, in-person, for the Sooners or Longhorns on what’s become almost sacred ground. It only makes sense for us to do all we can with our partners to keep that tradition alive but also continue to improve upon the experience and access for our fans. The stadium renovations will be extensive, and we can’t wait for our fans to experience the enhancements.”

The long and storied rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma goes back to 1900 and the two teams played for the 119th time in 2023. It was the 95th consecutive year (since 1912) the game was played at a neutral site, equal distance from both schools, while the rivals have met on the grounds of the State Fair since 1929 and in the Cotton Bowl Stadium since it was built in 1930.

The City of Dallas has engaged Bryan Trubey, FAIA, project principal with Overland Partners, to head up the redesign efforts for renovations to Cotton Bowl Stadium.

He said, “Overland is honored to work with an outstanding team of visionaries and stewards with the shared commitment of securing a bright, sustainable future for Fair Park starting with the renovations to the Cotton Bowl for the 2026 game.

“The Cotton Bowl harnesses our unique understanding of civic and cultural work, sports and entertainment venues, guest experience, and placemaking to reimagine one of Dallas’ – and our nation’s – most important and iconic venues.”

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