Reporting Bud Gillett
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Red River Rivalry was renewed Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. The annual college football shootout had a lot of drama going in, and a lot at stake for fans and teams. A sellout means 94,000 diehard football fans make the annual pigskin pilgrimage to the Cotton Bowl. Undefeated Oklahoma figured to have the edge over struggling Texas. Teams and fans — like Lt. Governor David Dewhurst — were also treated to $25-million dollars worth of stadium improvements.
Most obvious, concessions areas are brighter, wider, and even have widescreen TVs so fans in line can keep tabs on the game. Many, like Jim Hairston of Dallas, called it a welcome change. “This place is fantastic. What they have done to this facility is remarkable. This was such a dump and look what they’ve done; the floors, the painting, the bathrooms are nicer. Everything is so much nicer than it’s been.”
Six national food chains were added to expand to the traditional beer and nachos fare. On The Border is one, and general manager of the stand, Kelly Varner, is glad to be on the concourse. “I believe this is the first year they’re doing it, I think we have some other chains as well. We had to fight to get our concession stand this year but we’re doing real well. We’re excited about it.
Former mayor Ron Kirk pointed out this 25-million renovation came on the heels of an earlier $50-million dollar upgrade. “It started before me but certainly we began it with updating the press box and then we made a major bond commitment in 2000 to do a $50 million renovation.” Keeping the game at Dallas Fair Park is vital to the city’s economy. “We know we’re competing with newer stadiums, but what we offer here is a history and an environment you just don’t get in any other venue in the country.”
Of course, the game is the real attraction. But Texas took control early. Some Sooner fans began streaming out in the third quarter grumbling out loud about not staying. “No, I think we’re going to save the day and do something else,” one fan told us.
Another laughed and said, ” Ha, ha; think it’s time for us to go home. OU fan John Wilson of Arlington put it in perspective. “They’re just beating us in every phase of the game. Every single phase. We can’t stop their run. And then they made a little bomb there to make it 31-13. It’s too high; it’s time to go home.”
Texas coach Mack Brown’s job was reported to be on the line going into this game. But the win brought nothing but good feelings on the part of fans.
Charles Frederick has been following Longhorns football for 57 years. “I think he has a good chance of keeping it, yeah. And it’s indicative of how our season should go from here on out.” Bob Reynolds of Austin told us, “I don’t think his job was in that much jeopardy. But, it doesn’t hurt.” Dan Eisenhauer, another UT fan from Austin acknowledged the Longhorns are still just a .500 team. “But these are the games that matter, right? Got to beat OU. Got to be his goal. And now he still has a chance to win the Big-12, right?”
Eisenhauer thinks Brown will weather the pressure to relieve him of his duties. “I think it comes down to his ability to delivering the games, is the key. Not so much politics.” At least Brown and the Longhorns have bragging rights for another year.
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