A crowd of just over 16,000 at Wednesday’s ServPro First Responder Bowl — which was canceled after just one quarter because of weather — is again raising questions about the game’s future in Dallas.
Since 2012, the bowl game has been played at the Cotton Bowl but has often struggled to fill the stadium’s 42,000 seats.
In September, the Dallas City Council narrowly voted to approve continued subsidies for the game, paying ESPN $300,000 for the next two years.
“It’s an asset that the City of Dallas has, we’ve got to use our asset,” said councilman Tennell Atkins, who voted in favor of the subsidy.
Atkins is among those who believes the game's worth stretches beyond just attendance and includes marketing and advertising value that can be hard to quantify.
“I think it’s a good investment,” Atkins said of the $300,000 subsidy.
But his colleague, Dallas City Councilman Kevin Felder, is among those who do not agree.
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“The City of Dallas should not be subsidizing the game. That was my position then and it’s my position now,” Felder said.
Felder argues that the investment never reaches most local businesses and recent attendance numbers give serious reason to rethink the game.