If someone on the Dallas City Council doesn’t change their mind, the Heart of Dallas Bowl could leave the heart of Dallas after this season.
In March, the Dallas City Council rejected an $800,000 incentive package to keep the game and now, with $200,000 pitched in from the city’s tourism board, the City Council is also rejecting a $200,000 grant that would come from the Park and Recreation Department’s general fund. The grant would need 12 votes from the city’s 15-member board, and it currently has 11.
One member rejected the grant on grounds that it amounts to corporate welfare, while councilman Philip Kingston told the Dallas Morning News he was against it on football terms, saying the HOD Bowl is “a crime against the bowl system.”
The Heart of Dallas Bowl launched in 2010 after the Cotton Bowl Classic left the Cotton Bowl stadium for Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. While the Cotton Bowl Classic never struggled to draw fans to an outdoor game in Dallas’s dicey January weather, the Heart of Dallas Bowl has not benefitted from the Cotton Bowl Classic’s tradition and high-level tie-ins. The Heart of Dallas Bowl also faces a high level of competition from surrounding postseason games. In addition to the Cotton Bowl Classic, the Dallas-Fort Worth area also hosts the Frisco Bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl and the FCS National Championship.
The 2013 HOD Bowl drew 48,313 fans — good for a bowl game, but still roughly half of the Cotton Bowl’s 92,000 capacity — to see Oklahoma State’s 58-14 blowout of Purdue. But last year’s game failed to inspire Utah and West Virginia fans to spent the day after Christmas outdoors in Dallas to watch a 6-6 team beat a 7-5 team. Utah’s 30-14 win over WVU drew an announced crowd of 20,507 fans, but TV cameras showed a crowd closer to 2,000.
While the 2018 game is not in question, the 2019 Heart of Dallas Bowl would not take place unless a Dallas City Council member changes their mind.
“There is the option of looking at other facilities,” Heart of Dallas Bowl executive director Brant Ringler told the paper, “but we’re so far into the year right now, hopefully we’ll continue to play here.”
If the HOD Bowl survives at another location, it would not be the first time an ESPN-owned bowl moved from its home location. The Miami Beach Bowl lasted for three years before moving just up Highway 75 from the Heart of Dallas Bowl and becoming the Frisco Bowl.