Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dallas draws for the Cowboys, but has no spring outdoor football history to draw from

The Dallas, Texas, market is known for big things – big stadiums, big cowboy hats, big business, etc.

This is all with good reason – after all, it is the fifth-largest United States television market in the United States, according to Nielsen.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of the Dallas, Texas, market is its professional football stadium – the newly-christened AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington. Since 2009, the state-of-the-art facility has been the home to the National Football league’s Dallas Cowboys, as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic, and has a capacity of 80,000 – which is expandable with standing room to more than 100,000.

And since 2009, the Cowboys have been the NFL’s pacesetter in terms of average percentage of capacity filled for home games – 110.7 percent in 2012, 106.9 percent in 2011, 108.8 percent in 2010 and 112.2 percent in 2009.

One of the Cowboys’ previous homes was The Cotton Bowl Stadium. The venerable stadium, newly renovated, now has an expanded capacity of 92,100 fans, and certainly would fit the bill for a possible new spring outdoor alternative professional football league team. The Cotton Bowl Stadium still plays host to the annual Red River Rivalry each fall between Texas and Oklahoma.

A smaller Dallas-based football stadium is used by Southern Methodist University – Gerald J. Ford Stadium. It has a capacity of 32,000, with the possibility for future expansion to 45,000. A multi-purpose stadium in Dallas is John Kincaide Stadium, a 15,000-seat facility owned and operated by the Dallas Independent School District.

The Dallas area also features a relatively-new professional soccer stadium in FC Dallas Stadium in nearby Frisco. It opened in 2005, and has a capacity of just more than 20,000.

If a new football league wanted to think “outside the box,” it could try to play at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, whose only tenant since 1994 has been the Major League Baseball Rangers. Fitting a football field in a baseball stadium never is easy, but the capacity of 48,114 certainly is attractive.

The interesting thing about Dallas is it is the largest United States television market never to have a spring outdoor alternative pro football league team. Dallas didn’t have a team in the XFL or United States Football League, and while there was a “Team Dallas” in the original incarnation of the World League of American Football (1991-92), it was a farm team for the league’s 10 franchises which practiced during the week but didn’t play an actual game.

BOTTOM LINE – A Dallas-based team in a new spring outdoor alternative pro football league would be a trailblazer – and a smart one. The venues, market size and insatiable Texas appetite for football has the makings of a perfect storm.

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