2024 Season

FC Dallas Returns to the Cotton Bowl 15 Years Later against Inter Miami CF

1.15 cotton bowl

FRISCO, Texas – What were you doing on Sept. 30, 2009?

"I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas was the #1 Song in the U.S., "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" was #1 at the Box Office and Lionel Messi hadn’t yet been awarded his first Balon d’Or.

That day was also the last time FC Dallas played at the Cotton Bowl. The iconic venue served as the club’s original home from 1996 until midway through the 2005 season when Toyota Stadium in Frisco officially opened (except for the 2003 season which was played in Southlake). The club's only return to the Cotton Bowl came on Sept. 30, 2009 for a league game against the New England Revolution, as part of a double header with the Mexico National Team. It hasn't been back since.

That changes for the 2024 preseason, though. FC Dallas will go back to its roots in Fair Park for a friendly against Inter Miami CF—headlined, of course, by Lionel Messi. Dallas will face the most star-studded roster in MLS history on Monday, Jan. 22 at 5PM.

For most attendees, the night will be made memorable by Messi’s appearance. For some Dallas diehards, though, it will be the long-awaited return to the Cotton Bowl.

“That stadium means a lot to me because it’s where everything started,” said Carlos Alvarado, FCD’s Spanish radio voice since 1996. “I look back and never imagined where my job would take me. I’m almost at 30 years with this franchise. I am very thankful to all the people who helped me during all these years.”

“By starting at the Cotton Bowl and playing there in the early years, it did a couple of important things,” said FCD's English radio analyst Steve Davis, who covered Dallas’ inaugural game in 1996 for The Dallas Morning News. “It gave the club some early legitimacy.  The Cotton Bowl had so much history and cultural heft, so it gave the Dallas Burn some identity and helped to establish the team in the market.”

Davis also covered FCD’s most recent outing at the Cotton Bowl in '09: “I remember that game well. Big crowd, important FC Dallas win late in the season. The international friendly afterward. Mostly I remember how excited everyone was to be back at Fair Park for the night, the fans and players. I think a lot of people in Dallas soccer were feeling nostalgic about the Burn's early years and thinking back on good memories.”

April 14, 1996: The Dallas Burn Era Begins -
Steve Davis' match recap of the Dallas Burn's first game for The Dallas Morning News

It's not a league game this time. The result doesn’t really matter and, so early in preseason, most players won’t play more than 30 minutes. Still, between the Cotton Bowl and Messi (who was recently awarded his eighth Balon d’Or), there will be plenty on show.

“It's been a while since the last time we were at the Cotton Bowl,” Alvarado said. “And this time with Messi, it will be a great opportunity for all of those who didn’t see him in Frisco last summer.

“For Messi, this will be his first time at the Cotton Bowl. He's been in Arlington at AT&T Stadium and in our Toyota Stadium, but not at the Cotton Bowl.”

Alvarado Cotton Bowl
Carlos Alvarado in the radio booth at the Cotton Bowl during the Dallas Burn era