Future Of "Heart Of Dallas Bowl" Uncertain

Steven Pickering
August 09, 2018 - 5:59 am
Cotton Bowl Stadium, Fair Park

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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - Members of the Dallas City Council have postponed a vote on a deal with ESPN to televise the "Heart of Dallas Bowl" for the next two years. The city is considering an economic incentive package of $150,000 per year for the network to keep the December game at the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park.

The game was created to fill the void left by the move of the Cotton Bowl Classic to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The game is dedicated to honoring first responders. Firefighters, police officers, EMS personnel and military responders are eligible for free tickets.

Supporters say the event can bring crowds to Fair Park, attract new customers for surrounding businesses and generate positive national publicity for Dallas.

"The question is - are we going to support Fair Park or not? We'd sure like December 26th to be one of the days we have tens of thousands of people visiting from all over the country to see the progress that we're making," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "Every opportunity we have, I'm going to be voting to bring people in, not keep them out."

But other members of the City Council didn't like the deal. "We have to make sure that we use taxpayer dollars prudently," said Council Member Kevin Felder, who represents the Fair Park neighborhood. "We can't just spend it willy-nilly."

His concern about the use of the city's money was shared by several other Council Members.

"The game is welcome here. ESPN, please come here," said Council Member Scott Griggs. "Just pay for it yourselves, please."

In addition to being opposed to giving public money to a large corporation, Council Member Philip Kingston has not been impressed with the quality of the games.

"This is an example of corporate welfare," he said. "Even if you deeply believe that spending public money on sporting events is somehow beneficial for the economy...and you're a huge football fan, you should understand the level of the games we're producing with this bowl. It's a crime against the bowl system. The teams that get to go to this bowl shouldn't be bowl-eligible. So even if you're a football fan, you're actually hurting football if you're supporting this game."

Last year's Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl featured the University of Utah Utes against the West Virginia University Mountaineers. Utah won, 30 to 14, in front of a crowd of about 20,000.

While a majority of the Dallas City Council supported the deal with ESPN to keep the game in Fair Park, the measure required a 3/4ths majority vote. When it became clear that opponents would have enough votes to block the proposal, supporters voted to postpone a decision until September 12th. Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway was not at Wednesday's council meeting. He resigned this morning after entering a "guilty" plea to federal criminal charges.