Dec. 28, 2013 - update 9:10 p.m.
DALLAS, Texas - The North Texas football team arrived by police-escorted bus caravan in Dallas Saturday afternoon, and immediately checked into the team hotel, the Omni.
Photo Gallery - team arrives in Dallas
The Mean Green football team is sharing the Omni tonight with a large crowd of fans headed for the second night of Lights All Night, a two-night electronic-dance music festival at Dallas Convention Center, next door to the Omni and to Eddie Deen's Ranch, site of tonight's Heart of Dallas Bowl Welcome Reception (the reception, hosted by the Heart of Dallas Bowl, is not open to the public).
If you haven't been to the Omni, one of the area's newest hotels, the views of downtown Dallas are impressive. From the east side of the hotel, room on the upper floors (including several held by the North Texas football team, have an un-obstructed view of the Cotton Bowl, site of the Mean Green's New Year's Day bowl, and the Texas Star ferris wheel in Fair Park.
Crews are painting logos on the field at the Cotton Bowl on Sunday.
Rooms at the Omni have a small television screen mounted in the bathroom mirror. Still trying to figure out how to take that home with me.
The team's demeanor in its first day in Dallas is not much different from that of any other road game this season. The players are clearly happy to be here, but satisfied to be here. The consensus of a number of observers who have spent much time around the team was that the players appear focused on the task at hand.
Photo Gallery - Reception at Eddie Dean's Ranch
Saturday night, the team joined UNLV at the Bowl Welcome Reception at Eddie Dean's Ranch, a special event venue next to the Dallas Convention Center.
North Texas players arrived wearing new green Heart of Dallas Bowl warmups outfits, with the bowl logo on the back of the jacket. UNLV's players were wearing camouflage warmups.
The Welcome Reception ended with the teams pouring into the "gifting suites," a room for each team loaded with merchandise from which players could choose. Each player got five points, and each item - which were dominated by watches and electronics - were worth various points. Each player could choose items totaling five points. There were a lot of watches and speakers selected. Players did not walk out with their choices, but the merchandise instead will be shipped to the teams.
There was a fair amount of consultation via smart phones with girlfriends and family regarding some of the gift choices.
North Texas will conduct its first Dallas practice Sunday morning. Just like practices in Denton, all practices are closed to the public (as are UNLV's practices). The teams will participate in a chartiy event in the afternoon at City Square, then will attend a Dallas Stars game Sunday night.