Schools may opt out after 2007

DALLAS -- Athletic directors at Texas and Oklahoma want to see some improvements in the Cotton Bowl if the annual Red River rivalry between the two schools is to continue in Dallas.

"I don't think the University of Oklahoma is sitting here saying that we want gold-plated hand rails," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a story in Wednesday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. "But if you go sit in that stadium and see its condition, you'll see that there has to be some improvements."

The schools took up the issue last week when announcing a new sponsorship agreement with SBC Communications Inc. for the traditional October matchup during the State Fair of Texas.

A clause allows the schools to opt out of their agreement to play at Fair Park in Dallas after the 2007 game. The game has been played there since 1929.

"The decision whether to opt out after the 2007 game would probably need to be made about a year in advance," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. "Joe Castiglione and I are having conversations with our staffs about it and trying to decide where Dallas is with our game and what the Cotton Bowl stadium is going to look like in 2008."

Castiglione said, "Turn it around. They want this game in Dallas. What are they offering to us? If the stadium is not in good enough condition to hold the game, what choice do we have? But we would rather not wait until the last year of the contract to make that decision."

State Fair of Texas president Errol McKoy said Tuesday that he sent a $26 million proposal to renovate the Cotton Bowl to Dallas mayor Laura Miller and the City Council a year ago.

Miller said Tuesday that public bonds could fund major Cotton Bowl renovations. She said she was committed to keeping the game in Dallas as well as hosting more games in the stadium.

Miller said in November that city officials would get the money to improve the Cotton Bowl and would seek a longer contractual commitment from Texas and OU.

However, Dodds and Castiglione said Tuesday that they were not aware of a renovation proposal and hadn't heard from the city about extending their contract.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Dodds said. "But it's not our decision to tell Dallas what to do to improve the stadium. It's our decision what to do with the game based on the facts we'll have at the time."

If improvements aren't made to the Cotton Bowl, Dodds has said that he would favor going to a home-and-home series. He said he wouldn't favor the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington because the State Fair is the basis of the game's tradition and the reason for playing it in Dallas.