For the second consecutive season TCU is playing a precious home game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
But TCU insists this will be the Horned Frogs' swan song at the billion-dollar stadium.
Coach Gary Patterson thinks Cowboys Stadium is a great place to play, but he'd much rather have BYU, a longtime Mountain West Conference foe, coming into Amon G. Carter Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.
"Of course. I'd have 40,000 in purple instead of it being 50-50," Patterson said. "That's why we won't play people in the Big 12 over at Cowboys Stadium, if I get any say. Because I'd rather have home-field advantage. As soon as you go into Cowboys Stadium you no longer have home-field advantage."
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That's what most TCU fans want to hear. With renovations to Amon G. Carter Stadium up to $164 million, it'd be hard to explain why you're playing, say Oklahoma or Texas, 19 miles east in Arlington, even if you could sell 30,000 more tickets.
"If winning is important you need to keep it at Amon G. Carter Stadium," Patterson said. "If you want to just make money then you go to Cowboys Stadium. If you want it to be about winning the conference title then we need to play here. I don't know why we'd build a new stadium and then go play somewhere else."
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte says rumors of TCU (5-2) potentially playing a Big 12 game at Cowboys Stadium "have never been factual or based on anything."
"We've never had any discussions about that ever," he said. "Our full intent, because of the investment we are making, is to play all of our games at home. All I know is, right now, we're playing all of our games here. We have no intentions of moving our conference games out of our venue."
More than 40,000 tickets at $55 apiece have been sold for Friday's game with BYU, according to TCU, but Del Conte said he expects that number to rise by Friday. In the season opener last year, TCU and Oregon State drew 46,138 to Cowboys Stadium. In 2009, BYU defeated No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13 in the stadium's first college game with 75,437 in attendance. The Cougars (6-2) are playing as an independent after 11 seasons in the MWC, but still feel like a conference meeting for Patterson and his players.
"I know they're not in our conference anymore but you almost forget that half the time," TCU defensive end Jon Koontz said. "So we treat them like a conference opponent. We're familiar with them and they're familiar with us. It's not like we're playing a random school in the middle of the season."
Said Patterson: "I consider this like a conference game, we've played BYU for so long. I'd rather not play a nonconference game in the middle of the season but this is the only time we could work it out."
Del Conte agrees with Patterson, but said "this is just an unusual year." TCU had to fill three holes in its schedule in February when Utah left for the Pac-10, BYU went independent, and Texas Tech backed out of a scheduled Sept. 17 nonconference game at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
"We were looking at a game where we could have max capacity," Del Conte said. "We knew [BYU] was an opponent that could be a common draw. The allure for me was to get our product on national television. We had Baylor the first game, and this is our second game that will be on a national platform."
When the renovations are complete next summer, Amon G. Carter Stadium's seating capacity will be about 50,000. This season, during construction, the capacity is listed as 32,000, but the attendance against SMU was announced as 35,632.
Koontz, like his coach, would prefer playing on campus, but understands the reasoning, at least for this season.
"That's a tough question," Koontz said. "I like playing here. I don't like leaving here, but with the stadium under construction it will be good to get more people at Cowboys Stadium. I guess you can call it a home game for us, but nothing is like playing in the Carter."