GPRS Locates & Maps Utilities at Historic Cotton Bowl Stadium

GPRS Locates & Maps Utilities at Historic Cotton Bowl Stadium

One of the oldest, largest, and most historic stadiums in the United States is undergoing a massive renovation.

And GPRS has helped keep the project on time, on budget, and safe.

A team of GPRS Project Managers (PMs) recently spent four days locating and mapping utilities around the west side of the 91,000-seat, 94-year-old Cotton Bowl Stadium, as well as a significant portion of the surrounding, 277-acre Fair Park area in Dallas, Texas.

Cotton Bowl Stadium and Fair Park.
Cotton Bowl Stadium and the surrounding Fair Park are undergoing an expansive renovation – and GPRS has helped keep this project on time, on budget, and safe.

Both the stadium and the fairgrounds – home to the Texas State Fair – are being renovated as part of a $140 million, two-year project designed to enhance visitor experience and modernize some aspects of the stadium, according to an article on Community Impact.

Darren James, President of the Board of Fair Park First, the non-profit organization that manages Fair Park for the City of Dallas, said in a statement that the renovation “is the first cog in the wheel of a greater mechanism, providing funding for the future of the campus.”

“Unlike previous renovations, which centered around increasing capacity, this project amplifies the fan experience for everyone who visits Fair Park,” James added.

Planned improvements include:

  • Widening concourses
  • Tripling the current square footage per guest in key areas
  • Adding escalators
  • Improving the in-stadium Wi-Fi signal
  • Increasing the number of hospitality areas and premium environments

Overland Partners is leading the design of the renovations in collaboration with McAfee3 Architects, Modus and Norman Alston Architects.

“Guided by sustainable development strategies, an expanded array of hospitality areas and premium environments will elevate the Cotton Bowl’s overall fan experience and catalyze positive economic impact for future improvements across Fair Park and the community,” Overland wrote on its website.

A GPRS van in front of Cotton Bowl Stadium.
There was no historic infrastructure data available for Cotton Bowl Stadium, which originally opened as the 46,000-seat Fair Park Bowl in 1930. So, GPRS Project Managers deployed an arsenal of state-of-the-art utility locating equipment to fully map the site’s subsurface utilities.

Historic Infrastructure – and No Maps

According to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), the Cotton Bowl Stadium – also known just as the Cotton Bowl – is actually the second sports venue to occupy the same piece of land inside Fair Park. Its predecessor, the 15,000-seat Fair Park Football Stadium, was used for community events and football games from 1921 until 1930 when it was replaced by the 46,000-seat Fair Park Bowl.

The Fair Park Bowl was renamed Cotton Bowl Stadium in 1937, when the first Cotton Bowl Classic was held. Texas Christian University (TCU) defeated Marquette University 16-6 in that historic game.

The current expansion project is just the latest in a litany of renovations that have occurred in and around the Cotton Bowl over the past 94 years. Every renovation has only increased the complexity of the subsurface infrastructure both in and around the historic stadium.

GPRS Project Manager Boon Bowling is very familiar with the Cotton Bowl, having marched across its field a couple of times while a member of the Texas A&M Marching Band. An Architecture student in college, Bowling studied the site and knew its history and significance to the Dallas area well before he joined GPRS.

“The opportunity came up to go there and do some utility locating, and I was thrilled to go,” Bowling said. “It’s a really special place.”

Shortly after arriving on site, Bowling came to understand that beneath the nearly century-old stadium lay an equally old, equally complicated network of buried utilities.

“There were no existing construction documents or utility plans that anyone could locate,” he explained. “The gentleman on site providing us access was relatively new to that role and had no documentation, so he couldn’t tell us heads or tails. If we saw a trench patch, he [didn’t know] if it was [new or] old. [He believed] some of the infrastructure could be abandoned. He told us ‘We just don’t know what we have here, and what’s still active.’”

A GPRS Project Manager holds an EM locator while spray painting utility information on pavement.
GPRS Project Managers used electromagnetic (EM) locators in conjunction with ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate and map subsurface utilities at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

The Solution

Bowling and his fellow PMs deployed an arsenal of state-of-the-art, non-destructive utility locating equipment to accurately map the subsurface infrastructure in and around the Cotton Bowl. This included ground penetrating radar (GPR), electromagnetic (EM) locating, and remote-controlled sewer scope inspection rovers equipped with CCTV cameras.

GPR scanners utilize radio waves to identify objects buried underground or embedded in material such as concrete. The waves interact with – or “bounce” off – the objects they encounter, and the GPR unit detects these interactions and displays them in a readout as a series of hyperbolas. The hyperbolas vary in size and shape depending on what type of object has been located.

GPRS PMs are specially trained to interpret these readouts to tell you where it is safe to excavate, cut or core, and where breaking ground could have costly and dangerous consequences.

Our PMs use EM locators to compliment the findings of GPR and ensure the accuracy of our utility locates. Rather than locating the buried object itself as GPR does, EM locators detect the electromagnetic signals radiating from these objects. These signals can be created by the locator’s transmitter applying current to the pipe, from current flow in a live electrical cable, or as a result of a conductive pipe acting as an antenna and re-radiating signals from stray electrical fields.

Because GPR and EM locators detect buried utilities differently, they work well in concert to compensate for each other’s limitations. And because GPRS PMs like Bowling are certified in Subsurface Investigation Methodology (SIM), they are uniquely qualified to use these technologies to Intelligently Visualize The Built World® below your job site.

SIM is the industry-leading training method and specification for subsurface investigation, including utility locating, precision concrete scanning, and video (CCTV) pipe inspection. GPRS’ field team members are all required to become SIM certified, and they complete at least 320 hours of training in the field and 80 hours in the classroom to achieve this certification.

Because of this training and the tools at their disposal, Bowling and his fellow PMs were able to navigate the web of buried infrastructure beneath the Cotton Bowl to provide our client with an accurate map of their subsurface utilities.

“It was all brand new for [the client], because everything we presented was sort of the first glance for them at what was really going on there,” Bowling said. “It gave them a lot of peace of mind.”

GPRS’ Video Pipe Inspection (VPI) Service was called on to further evaluate Fair Park’s wastewater infrastructure. This sewer line inspection service utilizes remote-controlled rovers and push-fed camera scopes equipped with sondes: instrument probes that allow for locating and mapping of subsurface utilities that are otherwise unreachable.

GPRS Project Managers who conduct VPI services receive NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) certification in addition to their SIM training.

NASSCO sets industry standards for assessing, maintaining, and rehabilitating underground infrastructure. When GPRS conducts a sewer line inspection for you, we provide you with NASSCO-certified, WinCan reporting that details every defect found, geo-located, ranked by severity, and identified with both photo and video evidence. This way, you know what you’re dealing with, where you need to dig to complete repairs, and you can prioritize your maintenance work.

“Our VPI team came and spent a day mapping the sanitary sewer lines, which was phenomenal and extremely helpful,” Bowling said. “As you can imagine, with as many restrooms and concession stands as a facility this size has, there was just a lot going on in terms of sanitary.”

GPRS was proud to use our utility locating and mapping services to help ensure that renovations of the Cotton Bowl and Fair Park can be completed on time, on budget, and safe.

“This was a particularly special project,” Bowling said.

A screenshot of SiteMap® infrastructure mapping data.
All the data GPRS Project Managers collected on site at and around Cotton Bowl Stadium was uploaded into SiteMap® (patent pending), for the contractor’s future use.

Utility Mapping, Reimagined

To ensure that future projects at and around Cotton Bowl Stadium start off on the right foot, all the data our PMs collected was uploaded into SiteMap® (patent pending), GPRS’ cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets & people.

SiteMap® is a single source of truth for the field-verified data collected by our PMs, allowing you to securely access and share this information 24/7, from any computer, tablet, or mobile device. Whether you’ve got one site or multiple campuses across the country, SiteMap® can help you and your team plan, design, manage, dig, and build better.

GPRS’ SiteMap® team members are currently scheduling live, personal SiteMap® demos. Schedule yours today by clicking the button below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is private utility locating important?

Striking a single buried utility while excavating costs a facility, on average, $56,000 to repair, and it typically takes 6-8 weeks for that repair to be completed.

Calling 811 to have a one-call contractor provide you with the estimated locations of all public utilities on your job site is required by law, and simply a best practice for helping you avoid expensive and potentially dangerous subsurface damage. Public utilities, however, make up only about 40% of all buried infrastructure; the other 60% is private, and 811 does not locate private utilities. Hiring a professional private utility locating company is the best way to mitigate the risk of subsurface damage on your next project.

What do I get when GPRS conducts a utility locate?

Our Project Managers flag and paint our findings directly on the surface. This method of communication is the most accurate form of marking when excavation is expected to commence within a few days of service.

GPRS also uses a global positioning system (GPS) to collect data points of findings. We use this data to generate a plan, KMZ file, satellite overlay, or CAD file to permanently preserve results for future use.

Additionally, when you hire GPRS to complete a utility locate, you receive a complimentary SiteMap® Personal subscription. SiteMap® (patent pending), is GPRS’ cloud-based infrastructure mapping software solution that provides accurate existing condition documentation to protect your assets & people.

SiteMap® is a single source of truth for the field-verified data collected by our PMs, allowing you to securely access and share this information 24/7, from any computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Learn more about how SiteMap® can help you plan, design, manage, dig, and build better by clicking here to sign up for a personal, live SiteMap® demo today!

What are the Benefits of Underground Utility Mapping?

Having an updated and accurate map of your subsurface infrastructure reduces accidents, budget overruns, change orders, and project downtime caused by dangerous and costly subsurface damage.

How does SiteMap® assist with Utility Mapping?

SiteMap®, powered by GPRS, is the industry-leading infrastructure management program. It is a single source of truth, housing the 99.8%+ accurate utility locating, concrete scanning, video pipe inspection, leak detection, and 3D laser scanning data our Project Managers collect on your job site. And the best part is you get a complimentary SiteMap® Personal Subscription when GPRS performs a utility locate for you.

Click here to learn more.

Does SiteMap® Work with my Existing GIS Platform?

SiteMap® allows for exporting of data to SHP, GeoJSON, GeoPackage, and DXF directly from any user’s account that either owns or has a job shared to their account. All these file formats can be imported and utilized by other GIS packages if manually imported by the user. More information can be found at