I don't know the exact numbers and years off of the top of my head, however for the first several years Houston was always one of the top Ice Bowl cities. We won the basket for being the top city more than once. Seems like Arlington was always battling us for the top spot.
Of course back then a lot more effort went into raising funds for the Food Bank. As Suemac mentioned Kent Bray ran his Soup Bowl events, Mr. Ed ran the Discathon at Moffitt, and Jack Camp got a nice matching donation from BP.
Ice Bowl has always been more about fun than competition. If it was more of a competitive event or if we made a big push towards raising funds again I could see the justification for using more than one course. Otherwise to me it seems that having a large group all in one location ideal.
And just for the record, I'm not old I'm just high mileage.