High School Sports

Cowboys schedule paves way for possible UIL return to AT&T Stadium

Aledo quarterback Luke Bishop, left, and Temple quarterback Chad President prepare for the coin toss at the Class 5A Division I football championship game at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 20, 2014.
Aledo quarterback Luke Bishop, left, and Temple quarterback Chad President prepare for the coin toss at the Class 5A Division I football championship game at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 20, 2014. Special to the Star-Telegram

When NRG Stadium in Houston hosted the UIL state football championships, it produced a lot of exciting and thrilling games.

But it came at a costly price.

During the three-day event of hosting all five classes, the attendance for 10 games fell 94,509 fans from the 2014 title games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

AT&T Stadium was out of the running last year when the Dallas Cowboys were scheduled against the New York Jets for a Saturday night game (Dec. 19) that same weekend. But Arlington could see a return this December.

The NFL released the 2016 schedule on Thursday, and neither the Cowboys nor the Houston Texans have games that Saturday.

The NFL released the 2016 schedule on Thursday, and neither the Cowboys nor the Houston Texans have games on Saturday, Dec. 17. The state title games would be Dec. 15-17.

“We’re still looking at venues and still have those same criteria that we have in place,” UIL athletic director Susan Elza said.

In 2014, attendance was 250,652 during the three-day event in Arlington. During the final day of 4A, 5A and 6A title games, the attendance was 138,878, just 17,000 off the overall total in Houston (156,143).

Three stadiums in the state meet the UIL’s requirement: AT&T Stadium, NRG Stadium and the Alamodome in San Antonio, which has already been ruled out for this upcoming season.

“We still want the four locker rooms and covered field, and so it’s all open for options right now,” Elza said. “We’re still at a point where we’re checking our options and figuring what we’re going to do and where will the best place be to have the state championship games.”

No doubt in the years we’ve played there, it’s been an advantage opposed to everyone else having to come out, spend the night and travel.

Aledo coach Steve Wood, on the advantage for DFW teams to play at AT&T Stadium if they reach the state championship game.

The Alamodome is booked through December and can’t host this year’s games, Mike Sawaya, the city’s director of conventions and sports facilities, told the San Antonio Express-News.

Aledo coach Steve Wood took his Bearcats to the 2014 Class 5A Division I championship at AT&T Stadium, beating Temple 49-45.

Wood says it’s an obvious advantage for the Dallas-Fort Worth schools.

“If you got that opportunity, it serves as an advantage, opposed to driving to Houston or San Antonio,” he said. “But my only concern is getting there. No doubt in the years we’ve played there, it’s been an advantage opposed to everyone else having to come out, spend the night and travel. We jump on a bus and it’s 30 minutes to the stadium.”

138,878 Combined attendance at AT&T Stadium for the final three state title games on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Houston’s total attendance for Dec. 17-18, 2015 was 156,143.

The change to Houston not only served as a significant attendance drop, but a hefty cost for the UIL.

NRG charged the UIL $495,000 for a usage fee in 2015. AT&T Stadium charged the UIL $195,000 in 2014.

“I haven’t heard a lot and I can’t speak for the UIL, but I look forward to it coming back,” said Arlington ISD athletic director Kevin Ozee. “It’s a great venue. I’m a bit biased but I think AT&T Stadium is the best stadium in the world.”

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