UIL Announces Football State Championship Games Will Return To Arlington
The University Interscholastic League announced in a press release Thursday its intention to return the football state championship games to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, will host at least the 2016 and 2017 installments of the state championship games before the UIL examines other venue options. The stadium previously hosted all of the 11-man football state championship games from 2011 through 2014.
This upcoming season's championship slate will begin Dec. 14 and continues through Dec. 17.
The venue news followed a disappointing showing at NRG Stadium in Houston last season. NRG Stadium got the games because the National Football League assigned the Cowboys to host the New York Jets at home on a Saturday night -- coinciding with when the UIL anticipated playing a Class 5A game and both Class 6A championship games.
There was a miscommunication between the UIL and Cowboys last year, which caused the professional franchise to not inform the NFL of the the state championship games' dates as the NFL drafted its schedule. Once the Cowboys-Jets game was set, the UIL opted to investigate other stadiums rather than reschedule the title games around the pro game.
The 10-game state championship set in Houston attracted 156,413 spectators. In Arlington the year before, 250,652 people attended the games.
It also cost the UIL $345,000 more to play the games in Houston compared to Arlington, according to the Dallas Morning News. AT&T Stadium charged the UIL $150,000 to rent its venue in 2014 while NRG Stadium charged $495,000 last year.
There are always winners and losers in terms of travel based on the pre-planned hosting venue. The Texarkana metropolitan area as well as the Canton-Tyler-Longview-Hallsville-Marshall corridor are winners of the decision.
Lufkin and Nacogdoches area teams and fans are losers, although a trip to AT&T Stadium is only about 60 miles further than a trip to NRG Stadium.
Waskom, near Marshall, participated in the 2014 and 2015 Class 3A Division II title games. The team made the round trip in a single day in both cases.
AT&T Stadium is 184 miles from Waskom one-way. NRG Stadium is 258 miles away.
AT&T Stadium also is more accessible by vehicle for teams and fans in West Texas, including the El Paso area -- which has never sent a team to the state championship round of competition.
Canadian, located 100 miles northeast of Amarillo, had to drive 598 miles one-way to Houston to enjoy a second straight state championship win. In 2014, Canadian traveled 342 miles to AT&T Stadium.
In addition to announcing the venue news, the UIL revealed its two six-man football state championships will be played during the same span as the 10 11-man games. Six-man state championships were historically played a week ahead of the 11-man games.