FAYETTEVILLE — The annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game will be returning to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, after all.
The schools announced this morning they will resume the neutral site, Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas, for the 2014 season. It’s part of an 11-year deal that will keep the Southeastern Conference game in Cowboys Stadium through the 2024 season. The new agreement amends the original contract, which stretched to 2018.
“We are excited to have reached a new agreement to return our series with Texas A&M to Cowboys Stadium,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement Tuesday. “The addition of Texas A&M into the SEC will only increase the excitement surrounding the Southwest Classic played in the world’s most spectacular stadium.
“In the past three years, the University of Arkansas has seen the benefit of an annual appearance in the Metroplex with increased enrollment from the area and in student-athlete recruiting in all sports. We appreciate the efforts of the Jones Family and the Dallas Cowboys for working with both institutions to maintain what has quickly become one of college football’s premiere games.”
Arkansas and Texas A&M played in Cowboys Stadium during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons as non-conference foes. But the game was moved to campus for the 2012 and 2013 season with the Aggies moving into the SEC.
The Razorbacks play Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, on Sept. 29 this season. The Aggies will travel to Fayetteville during the 2013 season.
Long has been a vocal proponent of playing in Arlington, Texas, lobbying to keep the game at the neutral site even though the teams had become conference foes.
Even after it was announced the teams would play on campus for two years, Long remained confident it would return to Cowboys Stadium in the future.
The teams originally agreed to a 10-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys to play the game in Arlington through 2018. Arkansas and Texas A&M are now scheduled to play a total of 14 games in the stadium when the amended contract expires in 2024.
The Razorbacks, who have touted Cowboys Stadium as their third home since playing in the Metroplex, are 4-0 in Arlington. It includes three wins against Texas A&M and the victory against Kansas State in the 2012 Cotton Bowl.
“Moving back there, again, I think is a presence that we should have,” Arkansas coach John L. Smith said Wednesday. “The University of Arkansas, having a presence in Dallas, where if I’m not wrong is our largest alumni ground, which is our largest booster groups, all of the above, and we recruit there heavily. So having that presence is a plus for us. That’s a game we should have.
“Really, that will be a home game. We have to treat it as such. We have to make our players, fans, believe it is such. But I think it’s a great deal.”