The Cotton Bowl is a stadium which opened in 1932 and became known as "The House That Doak Built" due to the immense crowds that former SMU running back Doak Walker drew to the stadium during his college career in the late 1940s. Originally known as Fair Park Stadium, it is located in Fair Park, site of the State Fair in Dallas, Texas, USA. Concerts or other events using a stage allow the playing field to be used for additional spectators. The Cotton Bowl was the longtime home of the annual Cotton Bowl Classic college football bowl game, for which the stadium is named; beginning with the January 2010 game, the Cotton Bowl will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
The Cowboys hosted the Green Bay Packers for the 1966 NFL championship at the Cotton Bowl. Artificial turf was installed in 1970 and removed in 1993 in preparation for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
The stadium has been home to many football teams over the years, including: SMU Mustangs (NCAA), Dallas Cowboys (NFL; 1960-1970), Dallas Texans (NFL) (1952), Kansas City Chiefs (as the Dallas Texans) (AFL; 1960–1962), and soccer teams, the Dallas Tornado (NASL; 1967–1968), and FC Dallas (the Dallas Burn before 2005) (Major League Soccer; 1996–2002, 2004–2005). It was also one of the nine venues used for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Construction began on Fair Park Stadium in 1930 in Fair Park, Dallas on the same site as a wooden football stadium. Completed that year, the first game in the stadium was between Dallas-area high schools in October 1930. Built for a cost of $328,000, the stadium held 46,200 spectators. In 1936, the name officially changed to the Cotton Bowl.
In the late 1940s, the stadium was decked on both the west and east sides, increasing capacity to 75,504. These decks were added to respond to the demand for fans to watch SMU halfback Doak Walker, lending the Cotton Bowl to be known as "the house that Doak built." The superstructure was also built at this time, creating the distinctive facade for the stadium. In 1968, chairbacks were installed, reducing capacity to 72,032. In 1970, the Cotton Bowl installed an AstroTurf surface, which remained until 1993.
In 1950, as a way to break the Texas League record for opening-day attendance, Richard Burnett got permission to play in the Cotton Bowl, which at the time could hold as many as 75,000. In order to draw a big crowd, he wanted a lineup of former stars to don Dallas Eagles uniforms and face one Tulsa hitter in the top of the first inning. Most of the retired stars were cool to the idea, except for then-current Dallas Eagles manager Charlie Grimm. When the legendary Ty Cobb agreed to come to Dallas, the others followed his lead. Preceding the game was a parade through downtown Dallas. "It was the pre-game show that got 'em," bellowed Dizzy Dean by way of self congratulation. "Cobb, Cochrane, Home Run Baker, Speaker, and Ol' Diz in Dallas duds." The 54,151 who showed up were lucky enough to see Ty Cobb hit several balls into the stands, just to show he could still handle the bat. The Kilgore Rangerettes drill team performed on the field prior to the game. Texas governor Allan Shivers threw out the first pitch. Defensively, the old-timer lineup of the Eagles were: Duffy Lewis in left field, Cobb in center field, Texas native Tris Speaker in right field, Frank "Home Run" Baker at third base, Travis Jackson at shortstop, Charlie Gehringer at second base, manager Grimm at first base, Mickey Cochrane at catcher, and former Houston Buffaloes star pitcher Dizzy Dean on the mound. Dean walked the leadoff batter for Tulsa, Harry Donabedian, on a 3-2 count, and then the regular Dallas players took the field. Dean got into an orchestrated rhubarb and was tossed from the game. The attendance figure still stands as the largest in Texas League history and second largest in the history of the minor leagues.
The Cotton Bowl hosted six matches of the 1994 World Cup. In preparation for these games, the stadium field was widened, and the press box was enlarged.