Dallas could lose UT-OU classic over funding issue

Saturday, October 4th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ The city of Dallas reportedly has until November to raise hundred of thousands of dollars or risk losing the annual grudge match between the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma held at the Cotton Bowl each year during the State Fair.

The schools are threatening to pull out of their contract with the State Fair of Texas and go home-and-home if the city, the State Fair and other private groups fail to come up with the money to keep the Longhorns-Sooners classic in Dallas.

``If we don't meet demands by Nov. 11, then they have the choice to move the game outside of Dallas, said Sandi Bailey, executive director for the Hotel Association of Greater Dallas. ``We're in an emergency state.''

Ticket sales from the Red River Shootout generate $1 million for each school. But last year, school officials say, they needed more money to cover the cost of insurance and travel and lodging expenses for their bands and cheerleaders for the 2003 game, scheduled for next Saturday.

The schools are asking for an additional $350,000.

The State Fair of Texas and Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau agreed to payment and the November 2003 deadline, but didn't specify where the funds would come from.

State Fair officials, so far, have come up with $50,000. Members of a newly formed committee called ``Save the Game'' are hustling to raise another $50,000.

No other money is on the table, and it is uncertain whether school officials will accept a lesser amount.

Based on their contract, UT and OU are scheduled to hold their matchup at the Cotton Bowl through 2006. However, they can opt whenever they want.

This year's game will be held as planned, but Dallas could end up as just a pit stop next year as the home-and-home series alternates between Austin and Norman, Okla.

The State Fair has hosted the annual game since 1929, and it has been an economic boon to the city.

Fans from both teams spend on average $18 million to $20 million on food, liquor, hotel rooms and gas.

Mayor Laura Miller says the city will try to keep the game by offering a multiyear contract that gives the schools extra money.

``We're going to talk to the teams and offer a five-year deal, but I'm not going to talk about the terms of the deal,'' Miller told The Dallas Morning News in Saturday's editions. ``I'm trying to put together an incentive package, so we don't have to revisit this problem every 12 months.''

Miller declined to speculate on the Texas-OU game's future, should the schools reject the city's offer.

About $244,000 of the money the schools want this year would be paid to OU and UT directly for travel expenses. The other $106,000 would be used to pay Fair Park expenses, such as increased insurance and security costs.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said extra money is key to keeping the game in Dallas but said Cotton Bowl improvements also are important.

The Cotton Bowl has 71,500 seats, but UT and OU stadiums seat about 80,000 each _ which means more money in ticket sales.

``The money part was just part of the deal. That amount won't go up. What we really need is additional seats,'' Dodds said. ``It's a lot of years of tradition, and it's something that's been a national game. We like that. I think fans like that. It's something we don't want to change.''


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