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DFW region shows its football chops

Multiple college bowl and high school games taking place at local DFW venues while following COVID-19 protocols

Daily Light report
May and Sterling City face off in the 1A DI state title at 2 p.m. Wednesday at AT&T Stadium.

IRVING — The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a national epicenter for football, will utilize its venues during December and January to host five college bowl games and numerous high school year-end state championships, showcasing the region as a powerhouse for highlighting the best at the college and high school levels.

“DFW has an incredible set of facilities while also being home to numerous national organizations at the center of promoting our great game,” said National Football Foundation President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “In a year that has seen unprecedented challenges, the DFW community has stepped forward to overcome the obstacles to host these games while ensuring the health and safety of the players and those in the stands. With five bowl games and 10 teams coming into the area, it’s exciting and lots of fun.”

In the months of December and January, DFW continues to host numerous football games at every level, including Wednesday night’s Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Oklahoma and Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, and the New Year’s Day College Football Playoff Semifinal at The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One between Alabama and Notre Dame also at AT&T Stadium. (The Rose Bowl Game was moved to the Arlington venue because of COVID-19 restrictions in Southern California.) Already this month, AT&T Stadium has provided the stage for the Big 12 Championship as well as the Dallas Cowboys games that have led the NFL in attendance.

“We are so pleased and proud that AT&T Stadium will, within a matter of four weeks, play host to the Big 12 Championship Game, two Dallas Cowboys games, the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Texas State High School Championship Football games, said Jerry Jones, a member of the NFF Board and the president & general manager of the Dallas Cowboys Football Club. “If you love football, it doesn’t get any better than that. This was what we had in mind when this venue was built. The goal was to create a home and a hub for the very best competition the sport has to offer at every level right here in North Texas.”

The Cotton Bowl Classic, which will stage the 85th edition of the game tonight, has followed the protocols that have been established in the region to protect the health and safety of both the fans and athletes. The effort includes complete bubbles at the team hotels with security at every door to prohibit entry by anybody not involved with the game. The Rose Bowl Game will follow two days later on Jan. 1.

“We have taken some very stringent steps, and we're very fortunate to have AT&T Stadium and the Jones family as partners who we have been able to watch all year long,” said Bry Patton, chairman of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. “We're fortunate because we have been doing this for so long, and when our friends at the Tournament of Roses Committee and the Rose Bowl asked, we were just glad we could help because we have a great venue and a team that can really take on the responsibility of pulling off two games within 45 hours, which has never been done before.”

All 12 of the Texas State High School Championship games have or will take place at AT&T Stadium. Next door at Globe Life Park, the former Texas Rangers baseball stadium, 18 regular season and 30 playoff games at the high school level have been or will be played. The high school games will showcase some of the top talent in the nation with more than 40 of the players having already signed national letters of intent to play at a Football Bowl Subdivision school next season. The venue also hosted the tilt between Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 24, and the new Texas Rangers stadium, Globe Life Field, will host the Air Force and Army game next season.

“The Texas Rangers Baseball Club enthusiasm towards amateur football has never been higher,” said Sean Decker, executive vice president for Sports and Entertainment, Texas Rangers Baseball Club. “It has been our pleasure to host football games at Globe Life Park this year, and we look forward to hosting even more games here and at Globe Life Field. We sincerely appreciate all those that promote the game, which has fueled our efforts to bring the best games and programs to our venues.”

Other venues throughout the region have or will be put to use during the period. The New Mexico Bowl was played Dec. 24 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco with Hawai'i notching a 28-14 win over Houston. The Serve Pro First Responder Bowl was played Dec. 26 at SMU’s Ford Stadium with Louisiana claiming a 31-24 victory against UTSA. The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will be played Dec. 31 between Tulsa and Mississippi State at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Football organizations headquartered in the DFW region are numerous and include the American Athletic Conference, American Southwest Conference, Annual State Fair of Texas Football Games (Texas vs. Oklahoma and Grambling vs. Prairie View A&M), Armed Forces Bowl, Big 12 Conference, College Football Playoff, Conference USA, Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, Dallas Cowboys and Cowboys Classics, Davey O’Brien Award, Doak Walker Award, First Responder Bowl, Football Writers Association of America, Lone Star Conference, National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, NCAA Division I Football Championship at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, NCAA Division II Football Championship at McKinney ISD Stadium, North Texas Mean Green, SMU Mustangs, Southland Conference, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Wesleyan Rams, Tropical Smoothie Frisco Bowl, and University Interscholastic League (UIL) Football State Championships.