The State Fair of Texas has officially been canceled due to the coronavirus, but that decision will not affect the Texas vs. Oklahoma football game — at least not yet.
The State Fair, which takes place annually in Dallas, attracts more than 2.5 million and is home to the Red River Rivalry game between the Longhorns and Sooners played at the Cotton Bowl. The State Fair also hosts the State Fair Classic between Prairie View A&M and Grambling State. In a press release, the State Fair said the NCAA, respective conferences and participating universities “will be in charge of making decisions” on football.
As of now, both Texas and Oklahoma anticipate the Oct. 10 game taking place as scheduled but acknowledge the uncertainty surrounding this fall’s college football season as a whole.
“Though we certainly respect and understand the decision of the folks in Dallas on their cancellation of this year’s State Fair of Texas, we fully anticipate that our annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma will be played in the Cotton Bowl and we are continuing to prepare for that,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said.
“We know the decision to cancel the fair was an extremely difficult one for everyone involved and that we all are dealing with this very fluid situation during these unprecedented times. But, as we’re doing with all our fall season planning, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, work through contingencies and make the best possible decisions we can with the health, safety and well-being of everyone involved as our No. 1 priority.”
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said that OU understands the decision and urged fans to follow CDC guidelines.
“We understand and respect the decision made by the State Fair of Texas and acknowledge that it was an extremely difficult one,” Castiglione said. “Our hope remains that we can play the OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, but obviously every aspect of our season requires constant monitoring and planning. The best thing all of us can do at this time is closely follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.”
If the game is indeed played in the Cotton Bowl, current mandates from Gov. Greg Abbott calls for a maximum 50 percent capacity. Texas and Oklahoma have played in Dallas for 91 consecutive years, but the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic have left the upcoming season in a significant state of uncertainty.
First State Fair cancellation since WWII
The State Fair’s board of directors voted Tuesday to cancel the event “after extensive consideration of the current landscape related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of all fairgoers, staff, business partners, and overall community.” It marks the first time since World War II that the event will not take place.
“This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process,” said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas.
“One of the greatest aspects of the Fair is welcoming each and every person who passes through our gates with smiles and open arms. In the current climate of COVID-19, there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love. While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas. The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season.”
More from Yahoo Sports: