Texas A&M and Arkansas will renew their football rivalry, which has been dormant since their days as Southwest Conference rivals, with a series of non-conference games in Arlington, officials from both schools announced today.
The teams will meet at the new Cowboys' stadium in Arlington on an annual basis, beginning with the 2009 season. The initial agreement between the schools and the Cowboys is for 10 years, followed by five consecutive, four-year rollover options. That means the Aggies and Razorbacks could play in Arlington for 30 consecutive seasons, with the first game to take place on Oct. 3, 2009.
All of the games will be played on one of the Saturdays that overlaps the dates of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas (late September to mid-October).
Both schools expect to net about $5 million per season from the game, largely because the Cowboys are charging only $100 per season to rent the stadium and are not taking a cut of ticket revenues. The financial ramifications of the agreement are such that A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said his school stands to make more by playing the contest in Arlington than the $3.5 million the Aggies clear from a typical home game.
Asked how long he hoped to keep the Arkansas series in Arlington, Byrne said: "We hope to be there forever."
In terms of what the game means to Aggies' fans, here are some highlights:
-- Byrne said A&M would continue to play six or seven home games each season in College Station, in addition to the annual neutral-site game with Arkansas.
-- Tickets for the A&M-Arkansas game figure to cost around $100, officials said. Multi-tiered pricing will exist, with discounts for students and deference given to season-ticket holders.
-- Capacity for the game in Arlington is expected to be 100,000, with each school receiving half the tickets. A&M fans will sit one one side of the stadium, Arkansas fans on the other.
-- Arkansas will be designated as the home team in odd-numbered years, A&M in even-numbered years. When Arkansas is the home team, the game is expected to be picked up by CBS, the SEC's primary network outlet. When A&M is the home team, the game is expected to be televised by ABC/ESPN, the Big 12's primary network affiliate.
-- Byrne said the opportunity to play each year at the Cowboys' stadium should aid recruiting efforts and qualifies as an "important" way to reach out to fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Byrne said roughly 25 percent of A&M's season-ticket holders live in the Metroplex.
"It's important that we have an annual presence in the Metroplex, like we did in the days of the Southwest Conference," Byrne said. "We lost that when we stopped playing TCU and SMU (as former SWC rivals)."
-- In terms of future non-conference schedules, Byrne said some tweaking will be necessary to free up a date each year to play the Razorbacks while the State Fair is in Dallas. Byrne pointed toward a potential issue in 2011, but said it should be remedied "easily." With Arkansas as a staple on the Aggies' non-conference schedule for the forseeable future, Byrne said A&M would focus on playing the brunt of its remaining non-conference games in College Station against Division I-A opponents.