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The Cotton Bowl has been a New Year’s Day tradition for decades. Several years ago, it moved from the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Whether you are going because you live in the area or you’re traveling to see your favorite team play, you want your Cotton Bowl experience to be the best that it can be. Due to the large size of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, there are some unique challenges with attending the Cotton Bowl that you need to be aware of in advance. Here are some tips to help improve your trip to the Cotton Bowl. For some general tips for maximizing your bowl game experience, click here.
Where to Stay
If you are traveling to Dallas-Fort Worth for the Cotton Bowl, or any other reason for that matter, it is important to realize just how big and spread out the area really is. It can realistically take an hour or more to get from Fort Worth to North Dallas. And that’s without traffic jams! You don’t want to spend your entire trip in the car just getting from place to place. It is vital that you think about what part of the metroplex you will be in the most and pick a place to stay that is close by.
AT&T Stadium sits right off of I-30 in Arlington, which is in between Fort Worth and Dallas. Although Arlington is in the middle of the two cities, it is much closer to Fort Worth than it is to Dallas. I would recommend staying either in Arlington or Fort Worth to maximize your time. There are a few hotels that neighbor the stadium. That would be your best bet, but these will fill up quickly. You can get from Fort Worth to Arlington in about 15-30 minutes most of the time. So, staying in Fort Worth is a pretty convenient place to stay for the Cotton Bowl. Not only does Fort Worth have more options for hotels, but it also has more places to eat and things to do than Arlington. You can’t go wrong with any hotels in the downtown, University, or Magnolia areas of Fort Worth.
Another important thing to think about when planning your trip to the Cotton Bowl is transportation. Like I said before, the area is very spread out. You can take the train in between Dallas and Fort Worth, but it doesn’t stop in Arlington. And, Arlington does not really have a public transportation system to speak of. Therefore, you will either need to have a car or rely on Uber while there. This is another reason why you should choose carefully when deciding where to stay during your trip.
There are approximately 12,000 parking spots in various lots around AT&T Stadium. There are also roughly another 12,000 parking spots located around The Ballpark in Arlington located next door to AT&T Stadium. Additionally, several businesses in the area allow parking in their lots for a fee on game days. Parking will cost you anywhere from $10 and up, depending on how close to the stadium the lot is. It is not unusual to have to spend $30-50 per parking spot. Many of the best lots around the stadium require a parking pass, which can be purchased in advance of game day. So, be prepared to pay for parking and be prepared to walk!
Eating on Game Day
While there are a few restaurants located near the stadium, they are several blocks away. I find that none of them are really convenient to get to on foot. So, unless you plan to eat at the stadium, I would recommend stopping to eat before you arrive and park. Plus, the few restaurants in the area will be very busy, and you will probably have to wait a good bit of time before getting a table on game day. If you do decide to eat inside the stadium, you will be pleased to find a wide variety of food that goes beyond your standard stadium grub. However, as you might expect, the concession prices in the stadium are pretty steep. Beer will cost you $9 per glass. A pretzel is $6, and popcorn will cost you $5.50.
Stadium’s Bag Policy
It is important to know that AT&T Stadium, like most NFL stadiums, has a strict bag policy. You can only bring in a clutch (approximately 8″ x 5″) size purse, a clear tote bag, or a gallon size Ziploc bag. All other purses, diaper bags, camera cases, backpacks, cinch bags, and other bags are prohibited. So, be prepared for this before arriving at the stadium. I simply put my phone, money, keys, ID’s, and camera in my pockets. This was the easiest thing for me.
Getting to Your Seats
You will see on your game tickets a particular gate to enter. While you are not required to enter through this particular gate, I would recommend it. AT&T Stadium is huge! And, there are clubs on a few of the levels right in the middle of the stadium on both sides. Unless you have club seats, you will not be able to get from one side of the club area to the other on these levels. This means that if you enter through a different gate, it may be impossible to reach your seats without going a long way out of the way. If you have small children with you or have trouble walking, you will definitely want to enter through the gate listed on your ticket to put you as close as possible to your seats upon entering the stadium.
Enjoy the Game
Lastly, enjoy the game! Bowl games are so much fun! This is especially true if your favorite team is playing in the game. The Cotton Bowl is no exception to this. With it taking place inside a dome, you can be assured of perfect weather during the game. So, if you are traveling to the game, get there early. Enjoy some of the festivities that take place just outside the stadium during the few hours leading up to kickoff, and then go inside and have a blast!
If you go to a bowl game, you should thoroughly enjoy your experience. These tips should help you plan the perfect trip and have a great time at the Cotton Bowl. For more football tips, see how to get football tickets. For tailgating tips, see tailgating with toddlers, tailgate packing tips, and the ultimate tailgate packing list. Happy travels!