State lawmakers passed a bill last week geared toward helping Cowboys Stadium land a BCS national championship game.The measure would ensure that the Arlington stadium is eligible for state funds to help draw the college football game to North Texas, even after the NCAA championship format changes next year. The bill gained final approval from the House and heads to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration.It is my hope that this bill allows Arlington to compete as the host site for the first national championship game under the new playoff structure, which would be the first time Texas has hosted such a game in 35 years, said Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, who shepherded the measure through the House.The proposal, Senate Bill 398, was crafted by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and has been approved by the Senate.The bill adds language so that the NCAAs new championship format a four-team, three-game playoff starting in 2014 remains eligible for funding through the states Major Events Trust Fund.The fund is among the primary incentive programs managed by the comptrollers office to help the state and its cities attract or keep high-profile events ranging from football bowl games to auto races.This bill would ensure that the NCAA can still participate in the program by including the name of its new format, a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision postseason playoff or championship game, according to a statement from Hancocks office.It is important that our community not be left out because of something as simple as a name change, Hancock said in an earlier statement.Experience Arlington, formerly the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, was pleased with the news.Its wonderful that we have leaders like Rep. Patrick and Sen. Hancock who understand the tourism value and economic impact events like these bring to Arlington, spokeswoman Decima Cooper said.No one has registered opposition to the bill. Its supporters include the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Association of Campground Owners, the Texas Travel Industry Association, the Downtown Arlington Management Corp., and Arlington, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Dallas.Major sporting events like NCAA Bowl Championship Series playoff games or the Super Bowl bring an immense amount of economic benefits to our state and local economies, Hancock has said.SB398 will ensure the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivisions eligibility to compete for these funds in the future.Super Bowl XLV brought an estimated $7.7 million to North Texas, based on applicable city and county tax rates, Hancock has said.The state received an estimated $294.7 million in direct spending associated with the game, he said.Patrick credits her North Texas colleagues, including Reps. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, and Chris Turner, D-Arlington, for helping the bill pass the House with bipartisan support.This legislation ensures that Texas has the opportunity to continue to participate in hosting this most-treasured college football event, she said. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley