Prairie View/Grambling shine under the lights, State Fair Classic played at renovated Cotton Bowl
As I was driving in to the State Fair Classic on Saturday, I was already thinking about this post. I was fully prepared to suggest that Al Wash (who promotes the contest) move the game to a two o’clock start. There were two things that I was going to use as my reasons for a move.
First was the reaction that many people gave me when I told them of my weekend plans. At the barbershop I had a conversation where I told a gentleman I was taking my family to the PV/Grambling game. “Are you taking a knife or a gun?” he asked. Another friend told me to wear my track shoes so that I could take off running when the fights broke out.
Now I would not suggest to anyone that that type of attitude is totally unwarranted. I was at a PV-Grambling game in the late 80’s or early ’90’s (at least I know Grambling was there) where the football players all hit the deck because there was shooting (supposedly) inside the Cotton Bowl. And I also remember the crowds rushing through the stadium’s tight corridors because of fights. So yes, I understand where they were coming from.
The second thing that lead to my thoughts of a time switch was watching the NFL Network’s coverage of the Circle City Classic. That game featured Tuskegee and Alabama A&M and kicked of at 3:00 P.M. Central in Indianapolis’ brand new Lucas Oil Stadium.
The game drew 47,273 fans. As I watched I also wondered why couldn’t the 2009 State Fair Classic be televised on the NFL Network. Was the nighttime kickoff holding the game back from being seen in millions of homes across the nation?
But once I got inside Fair Park and was settled, I realized that the State Fair Classic belongs under the lights. There was a big game feel, and the new and the improved Cotton Bowl provided an outstanding college football setting. Believe it or not, this truly is big time College Football.
You don’t believe me? Well check this out. The State Fair Classic drew 54,315 fans on Saturday night. That’s a higher attendance figure than each of these games involving BCS schools:
1 Oklahoma at Baylor
#5 Texas at Colorado
#7 Texas Tech @ Kansas St.
#8 BYU at Utah State
Pittsburg at #10 S. Florida
and slightly less than #6 Penn State @ Purdue
Prairie View played in front of 50,000 plus fans the previous week in the Angel City Classic at the L.A. Coliseum. The Black Football Classic is big time football whether America knows it or not. And Dallas needs to realize what they have in the State Fair Classic before it’s too late.
A study conducted by Dr. Patrick Rishe of Sportsimacts and Webster University found that the State Fair Classic generated $6 million for the city, with $3.6 million remaining local. The State Fair Classic and Red River Rivalry (est. $34 million impact up from $30 because of new capacity) generate nearly as much revenue for Dallas as the Holiday Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl generate for San Diego.
My son’s birthday party always falls on the same weekend as P.V./Grambling, so going to the game has become a pseudo tradition. We’ve attended the game with my in-laws and my mom in 4 of my sons 7 years.
We decided to sit in the new end zone section opposite the Jumbotron. The first four rows or so on the second level had bucket seats that are much better than the old ones. The Cotton Bowl looks better, it sits MUCH better, and it was just a better overall experience. OU/Texas fans are in for a treat.
Our night concluded with a run through the midway. The kids had an excellent time and my wife and I delighted in State Fair treats. At no point did I feel unsafe and I asked my wife if she ever felt unsafe and her answer was no. For the last 10 years the Dallas Police Department has done an excellent job with crowd control and overall presence at the State Fair Classic. The same goes for their traffic plan after the game.
We did talk about the fact that there are probably some black folks that just aren’t used to being around that many black folks at one time. And many of us are conditioned by the media and one another to think that if this many African-Americans are in one place it can’t be a good thing.
Well I don’t claim that and I don’t believe that. Next year DART’s Green line will take away the traffic concerns and then we can try to pack out the Cotton Bowl with 70,000 fans.
On a final note, my prediction of P.V. claiming victory was way off and Grambling even took the halftime Battle of the Bands.
This week’s OU-Texas game should be one for the ages.
Dallas has created the 2nd best college football venue in Texas (sorry Kyle Field).
I’ll have more on the game later in the week.