The Cotton Bowl has always been associated with college football and continues to be today. For more than sixty years, it was the home to the annual Cotton Bowl game before it was moved to Cowboys Stadium in 2009. Now the Cotton Bowl is home to the annual Heart of Dalls Bowl that matches a Big Ten team against a Big 12 or CUSA opponent every year.
The Cotton Bowl has a long, storied football history, including being the home of two NFL franchises. However, the primary tenant of the stadium was the SMU Mustangs (NCAA). In the late 1920s, the team needed a stadium for its college football games. A stadium near downtown Dallas was constructed in 1930 at a cost of $328,000. The stadium was named the Cotton Bowl and had a capacity of around 45,000. The Mustangs played the first game at the Cotton Bowl in 1932. Throughout its existence the stadium’s seating capacity has been increased many times, the most during the 1940’s when the capacity was increased to over 60,000.
The expansion of the NFL brought Texas two new teams in 1960. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Texans played at the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys played their first game at the Cotton Bowl on September 24, 1960. The Texans played at the Cotton Bowl for three years before moving to Kansas City and becoming the Chiefs. The Cowboys played at the Cotton Bowl until the 1971 when they moved into Texas Stadium. Today, the Cotton Bowl has no major tenant. The SMU Mustangs played several decades at the stadium before moving to Gerald Ford Stadium in 2000. The Cotton Bowl was also home to the Dallas Burn (MLS) before they moved into Dragons Stadium. Today, the Cotton Bowl still hosts several major events. The stadium has a capacity of 92,100. The lower and upper levels enclose the entire field. The Cotton Bowl hosts the Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma each September.