Goodyear renews its relationship with cotton

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The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is not the first time Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has had a close relationship with cotton. The football game's sponsor has been closely linked to the fiber for nearly 100 years.

"While the use of cotton in tires today is very minimal, the common fiber was integral in the early days of tires, and Goodyear invested heavily in a pursuit of controlled production of it via the creation of cotton-specific farms in the southwestern U.S.," says the company.

By 1916, Goodyear was making cotton-cord tires. However, obtaining high-quality cotton presented a major problem to tire manufacturers after World War I, and Goodyear’s success in tires made it sensitive to high-quality cotton prices.

So Goodyear began farming cotton in the southern U.S. and in Arizona (there had been only two sources of the long staple cotton supply used in tires at this time -- in Egypt and the coastal islands of Georgia). As Goodyear describes it, Arizona’s Salt River Valley near Phoenix "appeared to offer the ideal Nile River-like conditions to grow long staple cotton."

"Initially, Goodyear executives travelled to the area to offer incentives to farmers to plant this type of cotton. However, the farmers showed little interest." Goodyear did the next best thing -- it bought land, developed irrigation and brought in labor for a 33,000-acre farm of its own.

The project, originally called "Goodyear Farms," turned out to be a success. The city of Goodyear, Ariz., was created because of the formation of the Goodyear cotton farms, and was given its official name in 1946 as a nod to the company that literally put it on the map.

The popularity of cotton cord tires fell dramatically after World War II, and its use as a product reinforcement was virtually eliminated in the 1950s as other materials, such as rayon, nylon, polyester and steel were used in tire cords and belts.

"Today, the use of cotton in tires is limited – mostly as a processing aid and not a primary reinforcing component," says the company.  

"Almost 100 years after it planted innumerable fields of cotton in rural Arizona, Goodyear cotton is on another field – with the game logo stitched on the playing field of the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic."

For more information on the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, click here.

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